Street Hymns on the Block
Q: Congrats on the Die Daily Team signing. What is your official affiliation with Die Daily? Would you mind sharing with us how you die on a daily basis?
A: Before I joined Die Daily I had very close relationships with a few of its members. I’ve known Dillon Chase for over 7 years, A. Ward for over 5 years, and Dwayne Pano for over 12. Then through music I began to organically develop companionship with other members. Once they asked to be a part of Die Daily I was super excited because I was already in love with the branding. So after being cleared up on what Die Daily truly was (more of a movement with a cause and less a label) the decision to affiliate was easy.
I believe that the earlier groups like Cross Movement & 116 Clique were extremely important to the culture of CHH. Though I have never been signed to organizations like CMR or Reach I have always been supportive of what they stood for even to the place where I proudly represented their brands and ideas on some of my own material. So yes, I believe Die Daily has the same potential as 116 and in time it will have a similar cultural impact that people will gravitate toward because the message is simple. Die to yourself and count others to be even more significant.
Q: How long have you been involved in the battle rap scene? What drew you in to becoming a battle rapper? And what are some of your favorite battle rappers?
A: My first battle was on the DFW Battle League platform against a rapper named “Sparrow” back in October 2014. When Eminem’s epic movie “8 Mile” released I was still in Jr. High but it seemed as though whether before school, or lunch, or even after school there was always someone playing a hip-hop instrumental while a freestyle rap battle pitted one MC against another.
My friend Jarami Thomas (JT “Mr Guaranteed to Wreck”) and I would battle just about ANYONE on the yard or off! We were doing that as far back as 7th grade. My father still reminds me of when I would come home from school back then and ask if I had permission to battle rap. At first he was completely against it because he knew how extremely competitive I can be in certain areas. But I would keep asking him and finally he gave in but he said, “No matter what they say about you or your clothes or even your mother and I, we want you to use it as an opportunity to promote Christ.” On the surface it may sound completely spiritual of him to respond that way but in time I found out that because he was working in the school system and he would see the fights that would break out over battle rap he decided to set the bar so high I couldn’t possibly win but it was sincerely mistaken because not only did I lift up Christ in my rhymes I still found a way to get the best of the other MC.
And today, battle rap has definitely evolved from the early instrumental format to more of an acappella style which in turn allows for a more pre-meditated thought process and much more lyricism.
I remember telling Dillon Chase about 6 years back that I wanted to officially battle rap and he asked “Well what does it look like for a Christian to battle rap” and in response to his question I had no idea. But as I look back I believe I was led to Th3 Saga who is also an openly Christian Battle Rapper and it was impressive to see how he was genuinely representing Christ and still killing it in the BR Culture. He inspired me to take that next step and he has also been a pivotal character in my accountability, my impact and even my relevancy within battle rap. My favorite battlers at the moment are my homie Ki’Shon Furlow, Saga, Danny Myers, Daylyt, & Big T.
Q: The battle rap scene is slowly opening up to Christian battle rappers, however with so many various faiths & beliefs, it was only time that those beliefs would clash. You battled an atheist once, how do you conduct yourself when faced with such disbelief & opposition to your own faith & belief in the battle rap scene as well as in your own personal life?
A: The toughest part about preparing for a battle as a Christian Rapper is that we almost always walk in to the ring on the defense. You never really know what your opponent might say against you or your faith so you have to be prepared to give a solid answer to contend for the faith. Although it is impossible to have a response to every single thing they might say ahead of time, there are other tactics to use aside from directly responding to every bar,
I try to mix it up and be unpredictable. But although battle rap is immersed in vulgarities, profanities and insults I try to avoid personal attacks because I don’t see the reasoning behind getting on stage and becoming someone I’m not. If I’m moved to say it to you on the stage, I’m likely to tell you the same thing off the stage. That’s my positioning. But I also allow for some jokes and the entertainment factor to be an element while maintaining a healthy respect for personal boundaries.
I believe that in life we should be proud to be who God made us to be. “I Am An Original Individual” and I want to show people that Christ respectfully comes to meet them where they’re at. It’s cool cause he can get on our level without compromising his own. Whether you’re from the streets or the suburbs Christ is about unifying all people in all walks of life.
Q: “But that’s what Bible study’s for.” usually ends all of your battle rounds, where do you usually have Bible study? Is there a church home, if so, how involved are you in the church?
A: My battle rap slogan was originally crafted for the purpose of sparking curiosity. I desired to give general lyrical references in the beginning of my rounds and then end with a Biblical reference that people would want to research for themselves or just hit me up personally to find out. I also do Bible Studies on my periscope account and have found that people from the battle world will tune in from time to time. I attend a great Bible teaching church in West Dallas called “Restoration Community Church”. Our fellowship is actually a church plant in fact it was placed right in the thick of the urban so we are without excuse, we kinda have to be that redemptive impact in our community.
Q: Mixing theology with pop culture & anime, you certainly go against the grain of the typical rapper. How important is it for you to be unique in your walk of life? And for those who may have not yet figured it out on their own, how & where can they find their own identity?
A: Psalm 139:13-14 “You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.”
God has made me the way that I am and people have a misconception that in order to come to God you have to change what makes you unique. But it is the exact opposite! God has made each and everyone of us but only one of “you” so by being who He has made you to be in Christ, you portray the beauty of diversity in his body. So yea… I’m an anime loving nerd who enjoys watching reruns of The Office. A lot of times nerdy people who are at times anti-social tend to be ostracized (even in church) and it shouldn’t be this way. I grew up listening to Lupe Fiasco and admired how (although we share separate beliefs) he never allowed stigmas of Hip-Hop culture to dictate his style, character and morals. So it is cool to be in the battle rap culture in a time when it is slowly but surely becoming accepting of “Christian” Battle Rappers.
Q: Besides music, what are some of your other interests & pursuits in life?
A: I have a genuine passion for people who are left out. Whether it be the nerdy, the bullied, or the homeless I love being able to serve in public schools and in my community . I love being able to encourage others and tell them my testimony. I am also a leader in a non-profit organization founded by my good friend Jahmaol Clark. The non-profit is called “2 Talented” and it is a Hip-Hop discipleship group that allows us to disciple young rappers and give them what we lacked coming up in CHH.
It is hard to stay encouraged in CHH when there is such a lack of common community among us and Jahmaol understood the importance of following the Biblical model of discipleship. You can find out more about what 2 Talented is up to at iam2talented.com. I am also in a discipleship group called “72”and it is a network of young missionaries in the Dallas area. Basically, we’ve assembled a diverse group of young leaders from different churches across the city. Each of them making significant strides in their calling at a very young age.
Among the talented youth we are seeing writers, rappers, architects, lawyers, teachers, videographers, etc. There may be a negative image of millennials, but our hope is to “set the believers an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) You can find out more about 72 at www.initiativenetwork.org/seventy-two/#seventytwo. I’m also involved in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) under my church and we thoroughly enjoy being able to chop it up with young athletes and tell them about life, manhood, and what it means to be a Christian.
Q: Recently, tragedy struck those residing in Brussels, which is one of many devastating events that have been happening for years globally. Unfortunately, it’s feeling like it’s a sign on things to come. How can we as human beings come together in times like these?
A: I think in tragedy there is always a little more to the story than we were able to initially comprehend, but we do see and hear what we’re “supposed to” but like a puzzle we are dependent upon other points of view in order to get the full picture. With that being said I think that no matter where we are in the world, we are all searching for the same thing, which is Truth. People are so diverse it is illogical to think that we will be completely tolerant of everyone else’s beliefs at all times, in fact there are some who believe that we should deliberately be intolerant. I believe the answer is found in Christ because he signifies unity in diversity. The Father is not The Son nor is The Son The Holy Spirit, they are unique yet indivisible (it’s a mystery) but Jesus’ prayer was, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” – John 17:20-21
Q: And on a lighter note, from various posts, captions, & even your SnapChat handle, there seems to be a strong liking to turtles. Are they your favorite & what does “slow and steady” represent for you?
A: As the “zombie kid” once said when asked about his costume on Halloween… “I like turtles”. Haha!All jokes aside turtles are my favorite animal. But mostly because of what it means to me metaphorically. I love tying childhood memories into my art because what we learn as children is what will have such an impacting and lasting impression on who we become. I loved the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare” because it gave so many moral lessons that could also be applicable spiritually. “Slow and Steady wins the race” mirrors the scripture that says “The race isn’t given to the swift nor the battle to the strong”. So my entire life I’ve always taken life quite slow in comparison to others.
I never desired to be on an all out pursuit for the fast life. As rapper Kendrick Lamar said “This is your generation. Live fast die young. Who’s willing to explain this story?” People embrace a fast-living carefree lifestyle that seeks the moment but there are many benefits to preparation and patience. So I made a project that tells this story. Tells my story. The project is called “Slow & Steady” and it was released April 11th exclusively on Rapzilla.com.
Because of the commonly true statement that “battle rappers cant make good music” and the statements that I wasn’t able to make commercial tracks due to my lyricism, I wanted to make a super diverse mixtape that leaves people wanting more! Instead of saying “wow Street does THIS or THAT, very well” I wanted people to walk away saying “wow what CAN’T he do??” I am proud of the hard work put into the “Slow & Steady” project and I believe that it will have tremendous replay value.