3 ½ years + roughly 100 days a year on the road = Grammy ®, Stellar and Dove Award nominated, Christian Hip Hop artist and record label executive, Flame. Sounds something like a mathematical equation; but, it’s much more ordained than it is calculated.
Flame has continually delivered fresh and relevant music to the masses via inspiration that comes from a variety of sources, mainly his relationship with Christ and the Word of God. But there are also, “A collection of things that keep me motivated to do music. And that’s important because the moment you lose that passion, it will spill over to the passion of your music. I like to stay engaged in the culture to see what’s going on in people’s minds and what they think is important in this time…just staying connected to great books, great people, great Pastors, hurting people, honest people…makes for creative writing.”
And Flame’s “creative writing” has translated well to his growing fan base. His latest album, “Royal Flush,” has received, “An overwhelmingly great response. The consensus is it’s a great album. People feel like I worked very hard in the production [and] the writing. They feel like I served them well. That’s something that I really appreciate because I worked very hard on the album and tried to bring together the right elements. [I] really wanted to make a solid project that was a strong selling album because at a certain point you start to feel like, ‘What else is there to say? I’ve been doing this for so long.’ So to still have that second wind, and the passion and that excitement, I believe resonated with people and they felt really pleased with it, so I’m happy.”
But one song in particular on “Royal Flush” speaks to the side of life that’s not so “happy.” As Flame shared, “Maranatha is a Latin word that means: ‘Come, Lord, quickly.’ It is a one word prayer found in the book Revelation. So while in the album it’s a lot of fun, it’s very bright, it’s very exciting; but, there is a reality in that the Christian doesn’t always detect that they have the highest hand. They may not always feel that they are on the winning team. So I wanted to speak to the flip side…and let people know that we as Christians, at times, feel the struggle and the tension between the already and the not yet. So it’s partially true from my own experience and other people’s experience and then just the Christian experience in general. I just think it’s the aspect of human suffering and struggle that everybody can relate to.”
So with his new album making such an impact, many are wondering what’s next for Flame’s record label, Clear Sight. And with clarity Flame shares, “We have three tours coming up and new music from V. Rose that we are excited about. We are also releasing a project called, “Jesus or Nothing.” The Dean of Students at the school I graduated from, Boyce College, wrote a book titled Jesus or Nothing and we’re going to do the soundtrack to the book. So we’re going to be very busy traveling all over the place, and it’s going to be super fun and I’m excited about 2014.”
As for expanding the Clear Sight roster, Flame had this to say, “Yes we definitely want to do that. Right now we’re continuing in building up the company, developing behind the scenes staff and getting the right elements in place, so that when we bring someone on board it’s a better situation for them and we can serve them better. So that’s what we’ve been preparing for and we’re looking forward to in the near future; bringing some new talent to the table, but nobody as of yet. But, we’re excited about that next phase also.” And for anyone who wants to know what Flame might be looking for in an artist, take note. “Artistically, I look for someone that is skilled in their craft. I should be able to enjoy their music just as Flame. I want to be able to put the music in and hear it and feel good about it, so that has to be at the top of the list; great art [and] great music. Then the person has to be [a] teachable, humble, hard worker because there is nothing easy about this. I had somebody crack a joke telling me and my homeboy Thi’sl, ‘Man I can’t wait to do fulltime ministry so I can sleep in all day.’ We just burst out laughing and was like, ‘You have the complete wrong idea of what this is.’ So we need someone that is a hard worker, willing to grind, someone that can travel and has the freedom in their schedule to go on tour with us, someone who is concerned about doctrine and theology in the scriptures, someone who is committed within their local church so that we can see their type of discipline and their commitment to the call of the gospel. When those things come together in a person, that seems like something that God put together and we’ll be excited about that.”
But, is Flame as “excited” about the current culture of CHH (Christian Hip Hop)? “Overall I think CHH has contributed such major portions of what I think the church needed…it stirred up the pot and produced passionate young people that were ready for ministry. That’s what I was excited about as a young person getting into Christian rap; seeing other young people excited about Jesus [and] doing ministry, excited about transitioning out of music at some point and going back to leadership positions within a local church or breaking into the world and becoming a light in other arenas. But as of late, there has been a shift or a transition in the culture, where more people kind of view it as just a vocation or as a career; and that doesn’t mean they’re evil or they’re not saved and not going to Heaven. I just see a lot more of that, and in that aspect I’m kind of concerned. So I would love to see a day where the majority again sees this as a means to an end and not just an end in and of itself. So praise God for what its done. But, I do long for that day when there is just an influx of young people getting saved, passionate about the music, passionate about missions, and seeing people rescued from their sin- using music as a direct means to do so. I think if we can keep that central to our genre, that’ll make us unique.”
To keep up with Flame, visit www.clearsightmusic.com
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