|How do you like
|I grew up in Missouri,
so it feels like home. Same weather temperament
and landscape. Good people.
|What records have
you put out?
put out 8 albums, with my friend illtrip, as a group
called Labklik.. Last year I put out an album with
my friends on Uprok/EMI records called "The
Night We Called it a Day". The group is Deepspace5.
|Eight records is
a lot of material. Do you see a continues thread
that ran through those records? Maybe also a way
|There are definitely
themes that go from record to record. We have always
tried to put out positive, sensitive, interesting
hip-hop. Not all our songs have been groundbreaking,
but there is nothing I would dismiss about those
recordings. It was a definite learning and growing
process, not only as a person, but as an artist.
It was the best thing for me in making me who I
|What records have
you been on?
|I was on Mars ILL's
"Raw Material" album. I did a track with
Sev on his latest solo project. I did a track with
Future Shock on their album "The Art of Xenos".
I did a song with 2Mex for the next "Underground
Rise" album, and I'm on the current "Undergorund
Rise" album with Sev. There are several more,
|What's coming next?
|I'm doing a couple
songs with a group in Finland called the Ceebrolistics
in June. I have a new album coming out in July on
Mush records called "Whispermoon".
|What can you tell
us about those releases: who are you working with,
what's to expect, etc?
is an album that I've been recording over the past
year. I recorded half of it in LA, and the other
half at the Mars ILL Studio in Atlanta. Dust produced
about half of the beats. Various others on the rest.
I did one, illtrip1, Freddie Bruno, Ohmega Watts,
E.O. And I have my friends from DeepSpace5 on a
song, Manchild on another, and illtrip1 on a third.
I'm not too big on collaboration songs. It's a solo
album, and it is rap music.
|How did you 'hook
up' with Mush?
|I sent them a copy
of the finished album, and they liked it. They had
heard me on the Deepspace5 record, and we talked
for a little bit, and it just fit. I was needing
a label to put some muscle behind my album and they
were looking for an artist to fill up there July
21st date. Really they just liked my music, and
I respect what they've done in the past so it was
a mutual thing.
|Mush is out there
as far as with the music they release. And they
also want the artists to go as far as they can.
So how do you think you'll fit into their roaster?
|Well, I don't see
myself as 'out there'. I'm just trying to be a good
hip-hop artist, whatever that is. Some of the people
on their roster could be considered as 'out there'.
But the thing about Mush is that they don't put
out only one style. So I think I'll fit in fine.
I'm an artist just like the other cats. I'm a new
guy to so many people, so I have my time coming
of paying plenty of dues. But it's a good fit. I'm
ready, I'm poised for the work load.
|But in what way
do you 'go all out'?
|Uhm, I dyed my hair
white once. It's all who you compare me to. To some
who uphold a strict rule book on rap music I might
seem cryptic, dark and artsy. But you have others
who are so far past all of the rules that might
see it as a normal hip-hop album. It's all up to
the perspective you're looking from.
|The 'scene', is
most often referred to as 'Christian Hip Hop'. Now,
as I understand it, this term is not really enjoyed.
|I've know about the
'Christian Rap' scene for almost 15 years. I've
heard a lot of the stuff that gets released, and
too often it's subpar compared to the regular hip-hop
scene. It's mostly because the artists goals are
only to please their Christian record label. I think
the best way is to just be a part of all of hip-hop
and be a Christian in it. It's good to come together
and be around other Christians who do music, but
why limit your music to just Christians?
|Is that part of
the idea why to go with Mush that is completely
separate from the Christian hip-hop scene?
|I'm an artist. I make
raps. I do hip-hop, whatever you want to call it.
I'm also a Christian, but I'm a rap artist. My faith
will be talked about. I'm not against talking about
faith, but I'm an artist. I want to make art for
everyone who will listen, and not limit myself to
only a portion of heads out there who share the
same beliefs I do. Christians will listen too, hopefully,
and everyone will be happy. I don't see a need to
separate my music from people who don't share in
the same beliefs as I do.
|At the same time,
there seems to be a need to identify the music as
'Christian Rap'. Why do you think that is?
|Who knows? Every other
rapper who attaches themselves to a religion doesn't
get labeled with their religion before the word
rap. I think because there has been this side-subgenre
going for so long that people who are Christian
artists are getting lumped in there too. There is
an entirely separate Christian music industry and
it's a multi billion dollar a year industry. I'm
not a part of that industry and yet I'll probably
get lumped there. Who knows, maybe I'll be surprised.
|Do you feel like
there's a 'circle' or a 'scene' of like minded people?
|Like minded in faith,
yes, but not necessarily in method. There are many
different speeds of Christianity in the US, different
divisions. They teach anywhere from traditional
views to more radical free thinking. It's all up
to the type of Christian church you attend, about
the denomination. The main points of the faith are
the same, but the methods are different.
|In what way do
you see this in the 'Christian rap' circle?
|Some people think
that if you're a Christian and you rap or do any
kind of art, you should use it as a radical evangelistic
tool to tell everyone how to join the faith. Others
are on the opposite side of the spectrum and they
wish to go about their music, talking about their
lives, which includes Christian thinking, but just
connect to people on a personal level.
|Is it just a 'circle'
or an actual 'support network'?
|Well, the Christian
music industry, just like any other industry in
general, is jaded in my opinion. I really don't
think it's a good idea to separate themselves like
they have and live in the bubble that they've created.
It is good to be around other Christians, but not
to the point that it is a separation from the rest
|In what way does
this 'network' function: means of communication,
means of meeting, etc.?
|There are several
websites where people talk on message boards. Touring
groups visit youth groups all over the US and meet
with people, and there are the occasional Christian
Rap convention type events where people get together
and meet and network.
|How do we have
to imagine such a convention?
|Well, it's usually
a bunch of artists and fans and people wanting to
be artists mingling about, attending seminars on
music and such. And there are always showcases and
rap shows where groups perform. It's just like any
other convention, but with rappers and fans who
are all of the same religion.
|Do you think this
network makes 'it' easier for you?
|It makes it easier
to stay in the bubble, but it can be a positive
thing too. If there were a happy medium I'd be more
fond of the whole thing.
|What do you mean
by 'happy medium'?
|Maybe a happy medium
in the way people view what goes on. I think everyone
can understand though. It's a scene where people
of like faith can get together and be themselves
and not worry about stuff that would go against
their belief system. Everyone likes to go where
everybody knows their name, and is on the same page
as them. To some people it's more important to be
on the same page with religion, to others it's just
the music. I think this scene wants to focus on
|Does beef exist
in this 'scene'?
|I think so, but mostly
on how different groups go about their music. Mostly
about the methods.
|Who do you see
as the pioneers of it?
|Chris Cooper (Soup
from SFC), Gospel Gansters, Future Shock, LPG, and
|Who do you see
as leading figures today?
|Maybe I'm biased,
but all the members of Deepspace5. We got Mars ILL,
Playdough, Sev from the Tunnel Rats, Sintax, ill
harmonics, labklik. Most of us though don't really
have a tunnel vision target on just putting our
music out for people of like faith. I would say
a group called the Cross Movement runs thing in
the "Christian Rap" world.
|How do you see
your role in it?
|I try and make good
music for everyone, not just Christians. I am an
artist who is a Christian, but I try to make the
best music I can. As we discussed, I'm signed to
Mush Records that is home to Aesop Rock, Busdriver,
Awol One, and several Anticon members, and I'm a
guy who makes music and happens to be a Christian.
|How do you see
the level of attention that your music, and the
one of the 'scene' receives?
|I don't have any comparisons
as of yet.
|Does the 'scene'
impose restrictions on the way you do your music
(i.e. obligation of a certain positivity, etc.)?
|Not for me. There
might be some labels trying to do that. It's my
life choice that restricts me from certain subjects.
But I really don't see it as a restriction. People
rap about their life. If eating teeth were a part
of my life, I'd rap about teeth eating.
|I know that you
are not to curse. For those that don't understand
why, what's bad about a curse word?
|Cuss words are just
words, like any other words. But what's so good
about them? I guess I was just raised to not cuss.
I don't see the need for it, it's not in my vocabulary,
so it doesn't come up in my writing.
|Does being a believing
person prevent you from centering your mind around
bling bling, and other evils of today's mainstream
|Some people write
about that. Personally, as said, I just write about
my life, and that's just not a part of it. So it's
not a part of my music.
|Does this mean,
that this could be a reason, why your rap seems
to be upholding the values of hip hop more than
the mainstream rap?
|You could say that,
but I also think that it holds people back from
being original and creative. If you truly know your
boundaries, you can be extremely original and be
creative within those boundaries. A lot of Christian
artists only mimic what everyone else is doing,
but with a Christian twist. That's where it all
goes down the toilet.
|Do you think that
your music, also considering the strength of the
Christian movement in politics, that in terms of
major success, will be getting very big, very soon?
|No. Mostly because
of the money that is put into the industry. There
really isn't a huge market for it. There is a market,
but it isn't enough to be big and see major success.
|You don't think
that considering the bible belt, as well as how
widespread strong Christianity is in the US compared
to many European countries, that the market is actually
big? It isn't, maybe because the regular Christian
doesn't listen to rap?
|Exactly. Not only
does the Industry limit themselves in only targeting
Christian people, they are limited to the number
of people who actually listen to rap. And it's even
more watered down to the fans who like their specific
style of rap. Historically the bible belt doesn't
like rap music, no matter what they are saying.
|How do you view
the current political influence of conservative
|I see it as a positive
thing, but then again our country was based on Christian
principles and beliefs.
|Do you feel that
the youth has some misconceptions about Christianity
and about being a Christian?
|If I were to take
a stab at how 'youth' misconceive Christianity I
would say it is because of all the rules and how
it limits their fun and experiences. I think a lot
of people hold on to things that are bad for them
because they feel good to do. Abusing alcohol and
sex, putting harmful drugs inside their body, etc.
It feels good to do that stuff. It isn't until you
are 35 and addicted to crack, or have lost your
brain from cocaine, or are beating your wife in
an alcoholic rage that you realize the things that
you held the highest in your life have taken over
your life. Christianity isn't about a set of man
made rules. It's a way of life, and you don't have
to give up having fun. There are boundaries, but
those boundaries allow you to live a more fulfilling
life. Amongst other things it helps me live a clean
|You mention sex.
Now a young buck out there will quite likely have
a problem to understand why sex is so bad, or at
least isn't to be practiced before marriage. So
what do they not get?
|There are the normal
answers of STDs, and pregnancy. Which, to me, are
setbacks to practicing sex with anyone you meet.
A lot of people don't practice sex with anyone they
meet, and only engage in it when inside of a more
meaningful, long term relationship. This type of
sex comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Either
way there are risks, but people will do what they
want. We don't always weigh out the circumstances.
If you aren't a Christian you might not understand
a lot of these 'rules'.
|How important is
it to you to work with likeminded people, as far
as the strength of faith concerns?
|I don't require someone
to change their life to rap on my record. I want
to work with artists who I think are good. Sometimes
they share the same faith.
|Do you think it's
possible to write sermons as raps? Or raps as sermons?
|You can rap about
anything. For me personally, no, I'm not a preacher,
but my raps might be sermons for some people though,
that's up to them. I talk about my boring life,
I don't preach in my raps.
|While many speak
about their faith and beliefs, few seem to give
something like a Bible studies rhyme. How come and
how do you see that?
|It's creative license
|A lot of people
seem to separate between faith and religion. Do
|Yes, I am Christian
by faith, I do not really subscribe to the religious,
man made aspect to it all. I do go to church, but
Christianity in the US is set up in so may different
denominations, divisions, that believe slightly
different from the next church. It's this division,
or religion, that I can't be about. As far as faith
goes I'm just about my faith in Jesus Christ.
|How much of an
awareness is there about the differences of people's
religious background: Methodist, Catholic, Baptists,
|There is quite a bit
of awareness of the different denominations, but
as you can tell from my other answers I think a
lot of it is silly little divisions. Different strokes
for different folks I guess. It's a free country.
|But are the denominations
something you discuss in say Deepspace5?
|It's not really that
|And also considering
the answers of some of the Deepspace5 members, they
are at times moderate, and other times very firm.
Does this show in discussions you might have?
|We are all Christians.
Some people have different views or convictions.
Some might be loose, some very strict. It's all
up to how they choose to live their life. We talk
about it, but it isn't a problem.
|What's your opinion
on other religions like Islam, Buddhism, etc?
|Well, God created
the earth, and the purpose for man is to worship
him with everything He gives us. In a nutshell the
main purpose is to believe in Him so that we will
be accepted into heaven after we die, and not be
sent to hell. He gives everyone a choice to serve
Him or not. I feel like people who are a part of
other religions have the same choice. Those religions
are man made, although a lot of religions require
a morally good lifestyle. It is still man made and
how can you follow another person whom God created?
There is only one true God.
|Now to word it
very harshly: Christians don't have to be tolerant
with other religions, because they're right?
|I'm very tolerant
of other religions. I'm all about somebody practicing
what they want to, because they have the same choice
as I do. God gives everyone in the world a choice
as to whom they want to serve Also remember what
I sad about following a man-made religion.
|How do you deal
with scientific findings that dispute what's written
in the bible?
|I'm not sure what
scientific findings those are. I haven't heard any.
|Let's put it like
this: as much as creationism disputes the evolution,
other findings dispute creationism. Are you willing
to consider their arguments?
|Well I studied art
and broadcasting in college. I'm not well equipped
to debate on scientific arguments. I know that faith
in what the bible says to be true is a part of being
a Christian, and that's what I go by. I believe
God created the earth. I don't hate people who think
|Do you feel like
an alien in your circles: in the circle of hip hop
as well as your circle of faith as being hip hoppers?
|No. I honestly want
to be a part of any hip-hop scene no matter what
religion. Hip-hop, or rap, is about music and art.
The fact that I'm a Christian is extra to the music
|Do you listen to
rap that's outside of the 'faith hip hop'?
|Would you be doing
rap, if there'd not be this 'faith rap' that you
|Of course. Like I've
said before: Being a Christian has nothing to do
with me being a hip-hop artist. God gave me the
talents I have, and what I write about is my life.
And I happen to be a Christian, so those raps are
going to be from my perspective. From the outside
it may look like a whole other set of limits I have
when it comes to the topics I can discuss, but I
don't see it that way. Why would I want to rap about
drugs, or how much money I have, that's not who
I am. Besides those topics have all been done before
and the people that rap about them are usually controlled
by their vices.
|A lot of you are
married? Do you think that's a coincidence?
|I don't know. I met
the right girl.
|Aight, thanks a
lot for your time. Let us wrap this up with you
speaking on what I missed to ask you about, as well
as shout outs if you'd like to do those.
|I think we hit it
all. I don't do shout outs.
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