Higher Learning Tour Hurdles Obstacles in DC, Enlightens Crowd
When Dee-1 said, “Shout out to God, the only one who can stop me from doing what I’m ‘bout to do,” at the start of his “I Hope They Hear Me” mixtape, it turns out—at least on Wednesday night—he was right.
Snow virtually shut down Washington D.C. on Mar. 6, but the weather proved to be no match for Dee-1, Lecrae, Propaganda, Bone Hampton and the Higher Learning Tour. The Christian hip-hop collective and comedian left their Howard University crowd not only excited, but educated.
Prior to the concert, the performers dropped knowledge in a Q&A with VIPs.
“People think that’s devil horns. That’s Houston,” said Lecrae of his hand signs fueling Illuminati conspiracy theorists. Where does most of Crae’s criticism come from, the secular industry or the church?
“That’s easy,” he said. “[The] church love to eat their own.”
Speaking of the church, Lecrae didn’t expect to receive radio airplay—Christian or mainstream—anytime soon.
“Christian radio is really catered to suburban soccer moms,” he said before adding what he’d need to do to appeal to such an audience: “7-10 more ‘Background’s’.” And in terms of mainstream radio, Lecrae said one must “pay to play” and he doesn’t “do payola.”
Other Q&A highlights included Lecrae announcing he’d begin recording Church Clothes Vol. 2 as soon as the tour concludes, Dee-1 discussing his newfound hunger for honoring the Lord (“I feel like I’ve been born again, again”) and Propaganda telling his audience, “I hope to melt your faces today.”
Hampton kicked off the concert playing the role of hype man, but he had his own set between Propaganda and Dee-1 and had the crowd rolling. While he was the only non-rapper performing (though he may object to being a non-rapper), Hampton fit in seamlessly with the hip-hop trio, evening showing off his dance moves with them on stage for the final song of the evening, “Spazz Out.”
The song selection was tailor made for a concert on the Higher Learning Tour.
Propaganda went back and forth between crowd movers like “Dig,” “Lean” and “Raise the Banner” and spoken-word pieces “Don’t Listen to Me” and “Be Present.” Dee-1 took a more don’t-clap-so-loud-you-don’t-catch-the-lyrics approach performing songs which included “I Am Who I Am,” “3’s Up,” “One Man Army” and new off his latest mixtape “Psalms of David,” “I’m Not Perfect (I’m A Christian).”
Lecrae catered to the college-majority crowd mixing in more “Church Clothes” tracks
than his usual “Gravity”-flooded, routine. He also performed a compilation of classics featuring tracks such as “Jesus Muzik” and “Don’t Waste Your Life.”
The melting of faces has yet to be reported. The raising of eyebrows, however, was a frequent occurrence at the concert.
Lecrae was a household name, but many in attendance had never heard Propaganda or Dee-1’s music before. And according to a post-concert poll, it was love at first sound for everyone who fell into that category.
Propaganda’s “deepness” won one fan over, and Dee-1’s “nasty lyrics” and realness another. Their performances left others confident that Christian hip-hop artists are just as talented as those in the mainstream.
While Propaganda and Dee-1 were pleasant surprises for fans new to their music—and The District’s own Trip Lee hyped up the crowd with an appearance on “Spazz Out”—Lecrae still left most folks shocked, at least those who were aware of his state. Not only did the weather threaten to force the Reach Records artist to take a day off, he felt under the weather too.
“We had to quarantine him. Boy got a cloud of Lysol we follow him with—shhhh,” said Propaganda mimicking the sound of a spray can. “Don’t touch what Lecrae touched.”
Despite his illness, Lecrae still delivered his patented energy, dancing and jumping around the stage no less than his typical concert. And because of that, fans who were unaware of his condition (only VIPs were informed) were stunned to hear he performed so passionately with anything less than 100 percent health.
“That’s a testament to the Lord,” one fan said in reaction to hearing news of his illness. Another sang the same tune: “Nothing but God.”
The crowd met a cold winter night as it exited Cramton Auditorium, but it was fired up.