Monday, December 3, 2012

VIDEO: KB responds to reports of possible group album with Trip Lee & Andy Mineo (a site with a good reputation for reporting information about Reach Records) recently published a report about a possible group album by the “retiring” Trip Lee, KB, and Andy Mineo. The story is based in part on this recent Tweet from Andy Mineo.

Since KB was in town for the “No Boundaries” concert with Tedashii and Suzy Rock, I had to ask him about the “rumor.”

Here is his response.

Fans may recall that the trio got together for the “One Sixteen” song/video which has been a crowd favorite throughout the year.

What are you thoughts? Is this confirmation of the collab? Is this something you’re excited about?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

VIDEO: Sho Baraka “disses” fellow High Society member Swoope

In this clip I captured at Lecrae’s Gravity release concert in Houston, Sho Baraka calls out his High Society group member Swoope.

As you can tell when he pops into the frame with his “Come on, son!” face, Swoope didn’t feel too threatened. Also, that’s Collision Records co-owner Mike Luna on Sho’s right.

NOTE: Don’t believe everything you see and read on the Internet. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The new Social Club album, “Misfits,” sounds like…


The new Social Club album, Misfits, sounds like:
  • A spaceship landed at your junior high school in Miami, it’s the night of the Sadie Hawkins Dance, and you showed up without a date.
  • Members of Odd Future and Maybach Music Group reading you bed time stories.
  • A pull-string baby Moses doll who wears sunglasses at night.
  • The music coming out of a teenager’s Skullcandy ear buds when his older sister forces him to accompany her down the feminine hygiene product aisle at Walmart.
  • Your youth pastor’s ringtone.
  • The heartbeat of the kid who has to save up money to buy one “cool” shirt at Hot Topic he prays doesn’t go out of style before he can wear it.
  • A hip hop album made by Veggie Tales characters who need a throat lozenge after trying to discuss their set list in a loud nightclub.
  • Ke$ha and Andre 3000’s submission to your church talent show.
  • Hip hop music your mom doesn’t like but hopes “has really good words.”
Interested? Download a free copy of the project here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

INTERVIEW: Author Seth Tower Hurd talks about “Hip Hop & Jr. College”, poverty, racism, and Christians

The night before the Thanksgiving holiday I conducted my first Google Hangout interview with former Christian radio personality/current author Seth Tower Hurd about his new book Hip Hop & Jr. College.

In our conversation below, we get into:

- The background of the book
- The hip hop EP he organized to promote the it
  • Which contains songs from Manchild of Mars Ill, Wit & Dre Murray, theBREAX & DJ Wade-O, and Heath McNease
  • Which you download for FREE here
- How Christians deal with racism and poverty in America
- How hip hop and sports can start to help heal those type of issues
- Whether or not our country is more or less racist after electing a black President

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you can grab Hip Hop and Jr. College from Amazon or Barnes & Noble for $2.99.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

INTERVIEW: Brinson on “No Other Heroes” and what to think when God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers


I recently caught up with GodChaserz Entertainment CEO/producer/rapper Brinson via e-mail to discuss his new album, what to think when God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers, and which film made the best superhero movie this summer.

Sketch: No Other Heroes marks your third solo album and 22nd release from the GodChaserz record label you founded and own.

After so much time and effort spent in music ministry, I imagine that things can occasionally get boring, frustrating, or just routine. So what motivates you to press on and move forward these days?

Brinson: A couple of things really.

First and foremost, I believe I am called to do GodChaserz. If I didn’t believe God sent me to do this I would have quit a million times.

The second reason is all the testimonies, they really help me stick it out in the hard times. That being said, I quit at least 20 times while making NOH. Then the Lord would have people from all over the country send me emails, texts, tweets about how my music has impacted their kids, youth ministry, or changed the culture of their church, etc. That is one of the biggest things.

Also, I think I have had that “I’m being slept on” mentality for so long that I still work extra hard like I have something to prove. Every album it feels like I (or any of the guys on the label) have to reprove that GodChaserz is a force in Christian Hip Hop.

Other than that, I’m still having fun. I love to be on stage, I love meeting people. And I want to make sure I’m clearing a path for other GodChaserz artists.

Sketch: Your song “Gold” unfolds a pretty interesting story. What inspired it?

Brinson: I was inspired by watching numerous artist on TV. We see the same story all the time. From KC and Jo Jo, to the late, great Whitney Houston – the list goes on and on. They all come up in church, God gives them a gift, then they leave the church and blow up. Drugs and all sorts of crazy things come into play when money is involved. It always leads to emptiness.


Sketch: Your song “Hit the Floor” is a bit of a departure from your typical sound but may be my favorite track on the album. What made you want to spazz out on the song and in the video?

Brinson: On every album I always have some sort of hybrid song (ex. “Green Grass Theory,” “80/20″, “Hello”). This time around it’s “Hit the Floor.” I’m big on pushing the envelope with fusing styles on my albums.

As far as spazzing out, while Juice2020 (co-producer) and I were going over the project, we kept pushing hard for lyrics, harder lyrics. I just had fun with “Hit the Floor” and it came out great. I never thought it would be the first video but God brought it all together; the concept, look, everything. I think everyone is going to enjoy this one.

Sketch: You attempted to fund the production and promotion of this album using the popular crowd-sourcing site With it you set, but did not reach, a goal of $50,000. What made you post such a lofty target figure and what does it say about faith and God’s willingness to financially bless or not bless your work here?

Brinson: Man Sketch…. this is a hard thing to talk about.

I wasn’t going to do it at all. As you know, I’ve been doing this for so long without any big label push behind me. I’ve been relying on favor and faith in God’s provision. Many doors have opened that way, so I was just going to stick to the formula.

But I know the message has to reach more people. So I prayed on it and believed the Lord said “Go.” I still fought with it too. But, I know an obedient and willing heart will always win with the Lord. So I stepped out on faith and went for it.

We didn’t reach our goal, and naturally a man will question if he obeyed God. The “Where did I go wrong?” question came up. Ultimately, I just chalk it up to God having a greater purpose, maybe to just kill my pride of not wanting to ask for help.

I set the target so high because I know what good can be done with that amount of money. I could reach more people – especially orphans and kids in group homes. As far as God’s willingness to bless, I still believe He’ll do it. God is able.

Would I do it again? Probably not. But, if I feel the Lord is saying do it, I’m not dumb enough to tell God “No”. Those things never work out.

Sketch: Since the new album is called No Other Heroes and I know you’re a film fan which made the better movie this summer: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Returns, or the Spiderman reboot? Why?

Brinson: The Dark Knight Returns was the best movie of this year – hands down. It was more than a comic book movie, it had everything: suspense, great acting, a plot twist, drama, great fights, shoot’em up, bang bang… it was a great story all around. I thought the acting was at a high level. They nailed every scene. I had to go back and watch The Dark Knight. So yeah, Dark Knight Returns.

The Avengers was a close second. It was a GREAT comic book action movie. Robert Downey Jr. really did a great job acting. He was very impressive, better than all of his Iron Man movies.(I thought Iron Man 2 was horrible.) The dude who played the Hulk was great. I really like him. I appreciated that Samuel L. Jackson didn’t ruin the movie. He isn’t good in sci-fi movies.

Spiderman was an epic fail. I thought the story told was good, but the dude who replaced Toby Mcguire was thumbs down. But hey, you can’t win ‘em all Hollywood.

That was a great question man. You know I’m a big movie buff. I’ve seen at least 20 movies in the theater this year. SMH I need to repent, LOL.


Sketch: What song(s) have you’ve made that you think got overlooked, but you thought it was special?

Brinson: On my first album it would be a song called I Remember.” I thought it was a great song. We talked about so many things about the 80′s (toys, candy, TV shows etc). It was overshadowed by “Solar Powered” that was a big song.

Then on OMG i would say it would be “Breaking Down.” It was a great storytelling/fantasy song. I think my flow and voice tone was great and the third verse was very good.

No Other Heroes releases today at all major digital download stores including iTunes and

INTERVIEW: Will The Ambassador be more preachy or less preachy on his next album?

  When the MOVE Tour hit Houston a few months ago I got to sit down with The Ambassador and talk about his approach to music.

Now that Xist Records has announced the date of the still-untitled release (March 26, 2013) it’s a good time to share this part of our conversation where he discusses whether or not he plans to be more preachy or less preachy on that upcoming project.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beautiful Eulogy on their unique sound and recent collaboration with Lecrae

Beautiful Eulogy performed at Sam Houston State University on October 11 - Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Last week when the Beautiful Eulogy boys were in town I had a chance to sit down with them after a show and ask about a wide variety of topics. Here, we discuss their unique sound and recent collaboration with Lecrae on the song "Misconception" for the Church Clothes mixtape hosted by DJ Don Cannon.

3 Christian rap connections to the Houston Texans


As you may have noticed, people around these parts are kind of excited about the way the Texans have been playing lately. So it should be no surprise that Houstonians in both the hip hop and Christian communities are jumping on the bandwagon to celebrate the team’s record-setting 5-0 start.
Here are three Texan Christian rap connections you need to know about:

1. Quintin Demps’ raps “No Struggle, No Pain”

As you might recall from my Houston Chronicle profile a few weeks ago, strong safety Quintin Demps is starting his own record label for Christian music called Purpose By Faith.

This week he dropped his first rap single, “No Struggle, No Pain” under the stage name Q Demps.
Although he’s currently sitting out a few games due to an injury, it seems like the perfect time for him to release this track (featuring Von Won) about the emotional ups and downs that everyone, especially Christ-pursuing believers, will face in their lives.

And while the song contains lines specific to Demps’ job as a professional athlete, there are also plenty of lyrics that any oxygen-breathing Earthling can relate to.

Free stream and download from the widget below:

2. Local Christian rappers create Texans’ fight song

The team has also had a fight song written for them by Christian rappers World Rejects and Bless’t.

Sample lyrics from “Kings of the Gridiron” include:

Ask that boy Quintin Demps how Jesus is his safety
With Barwin and Cushing on D, that AFC is on lock
From the boroughs to the swat, JJ Watt can’t be stopped

Free stream and download from the widget below:

3. Running back Justin Forsett is a Lecrae fan

During the top-selling Christian rappers’ “Gravity” tour stop at Warehouse Live last month I ran into Texans running back Justin Forsett who told me about how he first got introduced to this message music.

INTERVIEW: Cody Miles on bringing Beautiful Eulogy to Sam Houston State University


I recently caught up with rapper/full-time student Cody Miles via e-mail to discuss his role in bringing Christian hip hop to campus at Sam Houston State University (my alma mater), why he selected Beautiful Eulogy for this week’s show, and whether or not we need to dress like hipsters to enjoy the concert.

Sketch: What most impressed you about Beautiful Eulogy? Why bring them to Huntsville, Texas?

Cody: Honestly, when I get to put on these concerts at Sam Houston State the first question I ask myself is, “Who do I want to meet next?”  And then I convince my team and the Dean of Students that all their wildest dreams will come true if they listen to me.  So, there’s that.

But really, I’ve been following Braille and Odd Thomas separately since I started college in 2009. They are phenomenal rappers and they’ve impacted my life in so many ways as it is.  When they released the Beautiful Eulogy record, they also really filled a hole in a genre that was so needing of them.  It’s funny.  When I describe their music to people, especially church-kids, I tell them, “It’s kind of like combining abstract worship music and dope hip-hop with a little folk.”  It’s just good.

We’re bringing them to Huntsvegas primarily because my team’s focus is on Christian leadership and stimulating conversations about faith.  That involves doctrine.  I think Beautiful Eulogy is able to communicate the character of Christ as the motif for Christian behavior better than most artists in the genre.  Braille is also giving a message about Christ as a leader after they perform.  It’s just a great fit for what we want to do on our campus.

Sketch: What’s the biggest challenge of throwing a concert like this?

Cody: Haha, oh man.  College students.  College students are the freaking worst.  We’re in an environment so saturated with events and promotion that it really takes work to get noticed.  Besides that, we’re not playing the hottest club hits so students are confused as to what we’re even doing.  But, really, does anyone actually like “Gangnam Style”?

This year, we tripled our promotion budget, placed the event on campus and received sponsorship with Monster Energy Drink.  I’m opening for Beautiful Eulogy and it’s kind of embarrassing how many times my face is actually plastered in the hall ways and class rooms.  We have something like 2,000 flyers floating around and another 50 large posters around campus.  So, we’ll see what happens.

Sketch: You’re a public relations major at SHSU. So tell me, how did you put your education to use to promote this show?

Cody: I’ve come to learn that Public Relations can be a very equivocated term.  It’s not exactly rocket science.  Really, it’s just a game of educated guess and check.  In our case, we took some very informal surveys (we definitely didn’t get our research approved by the IRB), confirmed my already-cemented bias for Beautiful Eulogy, and tried to get the attention of college ministries.

In our luck, we’ve teamed up with a nationwide event called Engage24, which serves as a vehicle to encourage all campus ministries to evangelize to a part of the campus for 24 hours.  Our event will culminate all of that at the end of the day.  Then there is radio and newspapers and blogs. Oh my.

We’ll see how it turns out!

Sketch: You’re a recording artist too, so apart from getting to perform and open the show for these guys, what’s been your favorite part of organizing and promoting concerts like this for Tedashii, Sho Baraka, Freddie Bruno, Playdough, Heath McNease, RedCloud, and now Beautiful Eulogy?

Cody: It’s cool, man.  I really live for this stuff.  I’m writing the business plan to do it in Austin when I graduate in December.  I love seeing progress – having a vision for something and seeing it come to life.  I love that people support me in these sometimes retarded ideas.  I love that I get to show people how to put these things on so they can carry the vision when I leave.  I love that, in some ways, this is a legacy that I get to be part of.  Building the Kingdom of Heaven at Sam Houston State University.  That’s kind of an honor.

My favorite part is getting to meet the people you listen to on the daily.  I got to spend 14 hours in a car with manCHILD one time and while he probably hated every minute of it, I was euphoric.  I love hip-hop.  I love the culture, the people, the feeling you get when you write a dope line.  Meeting my heroes is kind of inspiring and also a little humbling.  I remember listening to “Resurrect Me” by Braille when I was going through one of the hardest times in my life.  Now, I get to meet the guy that helped me get through it- and I get thank him from the stage.

Sketch: I know the Beautiful Eulogy guys are from Portland, Oregon. Does that mean we all need to be facial-hair-and-plaid-wearing hipsters in order to enjoy the show? Will I be required to put a bird on Austin Hall or anything to attend?

Cody: I love you, Sketch.  Citing “Portlandia” made my night.  I don’t know what to expect, man.  I honestly don’t.  Beautiful Eulogy is not your typical hip-hop crew.  So, better pull out the plaid and throw away your razor just in case.

Recap: Gravity album release concert – Warehouse Live Houston (09/28/12)

Lecrae takes center stage at the Gravity album release concert – Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Last Friday, September 28 Reach Records brought the Gravity album release concert to Houston to celebrate the chart-topping new project from Lecrae. This recap is already tardy so I’ll just hit you with a few quick notebook dumps, photos, and videos.

J.R. sings “Gravity” with Lecrae – Photo by Sketch the Journalist

On stage:

  • A large video wall flashing various animations throughout the show. Some were lyrics, others were simply logos
  • Opening acts included Derek Minor (fka PRo) and Canon
  • Sho Baraka acted as host with DJ Official manning the turntables and Houstonian Nate Robinson on the drums
  • Song features and added hypemen included: Sho Baraka, Swoope*, Andy Mineo, Von Won, J.R., and former American Idol contestant Ashton Jones
* Swoope’s appearance on stage for “Fallin’ Down” seemed to particularly animate both Lecrae and the crowd who might have let their energy levels slip during the more ballad type songs

Swoope performs “Fallin’ Down” with Lecrae – Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Biggest crowd pleasers:

  • “Go Hard”
  • “Welcome to H-town”
  • “Jesus Muzik”
  • “Dum Dum”
  • “Violence”
  • “Gravity”
  • “Mayday”*
* Vocalist Ashton Jones took the crowd to “church” with her soulful singing. Mainstream rapper/producer Big K.R.I.T. appears on the recorded version but was not in town for this concert. However, that didn’t stop Sho Baraka from volunteering to be announced as K.R.I.T. during the performance just to see if anybody would notice.

The setlist appeared to go from songs that celebrate with believers to ones that can speak to non Christians – something that mat have simply been a factor of Lecrae parading through his back catalog of hits before moving on to his newer, Gravity material.
Backstage: Tre9, Canon, Lecrae, Von Won, and Gifted da Flamethrowa – Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Houston represented

  • From the stage, host Sho Baraka gave respectful recognition to the recently departed DJ Primo (who chopped and screwed the initial 116 Clique compilation album that helped launch Reach Records)
  • As predicted, the Von Won-assisted performance of “Welcome to H-town” was very well received. Check my video of this performance below and be sure to stick around for the end credits.
Derek Minor, Canon, Andy Mineo, and Sho Baraka came out to perform “Power Trip” with Lecrae – Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Quote of the night:

“Regardless of the genre, I still have that same call we all do: to tell the world about Him” – Lecrae

Andy Mineo posted this photo on his Instagram account hanging out backstage with the High Society crew (top), Houston Rocket Jeremy Lin (left) and Houston Texan running back Justin Forsett (right)

Spotted backstage or in the crowd:

  • Houston Rockets star Jeremy Lin
  • Houston Texans’ running back Justin Forsett
  • Active By Faith founder and former Houston Couger basketball star Lanny Smith
  • “25 Lighters/25 Bibles” producer/rapper DJ DMD
  • Gifted da Flamethrowa
  • Corey Paul
  • Tre9 & D. Davis (who brought 30-plus kids from their Hip Hop Hope Missions efforts with them)
  • DJ Chill
  • Lita Rodi
  • World Rejects
  • DJ Millhouse
  • Hilary Jane
  • Trevor Lee
  • Lil Sizzle

Soul Deep Records and Rawsrvnt release “A Decade of Faith” to celebrate 10 years of ministry and music


On October 2, 2012 Soul Deep Records and hip hop worship artist Eddy “Rawsrvnt” Puyol will release the album A Decade of Faith to celebrate 10 years of ministry and music.

Since its inception Soul Deep Ministries (SDM), the 501(c)3 non-profit offshoot of  Soul Deep Records, has shared God’s love in a unique way to those within schools, neighborhoods, prisons, churches, and even the entertainment industry. Its continuing goal is to empower people from all walks of life with the understanding of God’s love and the value He has placed on their lives.

“Over the last ten years we believe we have capitalized on some great opportunities and used them to make Jesus famous,” Rawsrvnt said. “We trust Him for even BIGGER things as we move forward and feel this album is a great way for our fans (who are really family) to commemorate the ways God has used us for His glory so far.”

A Decade of Faith offers listeners a “best yet” collection of hits from the artist and can function as both an introduction and/or celebration.
Tracks include:
  1. I Gotta Feeling/Take It All
  2. Jesus Jam feat. KJ-52
  3. On Fire feat. Richie Righteous, Pettidee, D-Maub & Brad Dring of Rapture Ruckus
  4. No Ordinary Love feat. Lisa McClendon
  5. Beautiful/Be With You
  6. El Shaddai feat. Thrill Da Playa of the 69 Boyz
  7. The Almighty feat. St. Matthew
  8. Holiness feat. Audrey Assad
  9. Bow Down feat. Sean Slaughter
  10. My Statement/The End feat. T Haddy & Malachi of Gideonz Army
A Decade of Faith is available for FREE for a LIMITED TIME only on This is SDM’s way of saying THANK YOU for 10 years of prayers and support. It is also worldwide through all major digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, etc.) Fans and supporters can follow Rawsrvnt online through Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase online at:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Things You Can Expect to See at Lecrae’s Warehouse Live Concert this Friday


Christian rapper Lecrae returns home to Houston on September 28 for the last of only three release concerts in support of his new album, Gravity, that landed at #3 on Billboard’s overall sales chart the week it debuted.

Here are five things you’re bound to see at Warehouse Live this Friday night.

1. Snapbacks, tank tops, and homemade Lecrae t-shirts

Fashion statements from the 1990’s made a comeback this summer. And despite almost being October, it’s still hot and muggy in Houston so look for hats and upper body gear that appears to be missing all of its pieces.

Also, Christian rap fans can sometimes be a thrifty bunch so don’t be surprised if you see a few youth group members getting their craft on.

2. Bored bartenders

A good portion of Lecrae’s fanbase would consider themselves tee-totaling churchgoers so the staff behind the bars at Warehouse Live might be equal parts bored and frustrated with the lack of drinks sold and dollar bills filling up their tip jars.

So let me speak directly to my Christian brethren and be so bold as to ask them to do Lecrae and Reach a solid and buy a few overpriced beverages while you wait for him to take the stage.

Yes, it sucks to spend $5 on a watered down Coke or drop a ten spot on two bottles of water, but it will also show this non-church performance venue that it can still be financially viable to book faith-based acts like Lecrae.

It’ll also speak well of you and your Savior if you offer a smile and generous tip to the nice folks filling up your glass.

3. Non-Christians*

But, let’s not assume that everyone standing in the general admission area in front of the microphone is a follower of Jesus.

Lecrae’s efforts to expand his “reach” outside of Christian circles (through things like his guest features for Statik Selektah, participation in the BET Cypha, commercials on MTV, and interviews with media outlets like Time Magazine, XXL, and have actually worked. Surely some folks who bought a copy of Gravity just like the guy’s sound and positive message.

So if you happen to smell cigarette smoke on someone or hear a few four-letter words fly out of the mouth of the fella in front of you at the ticket booth, don’t go looking to report him to your pastor. Show some grace and pray that God uses that evening’s performance to stir something inside of him (or her.)

*Again, I’m speaking to my fellow believers on this one. Also, let’s not assume that a person you don’t know but happen to see smoke, drink, and/or curse isn’t a Christian.

4. Von Won performing “Welcome to H-town”

This one is a lock. Reach Records already confirmed that Von Won will be an invited guest (in addition to these other artists) and one of the biggest hits from Lecrae’s Church Clothes mixtape was his remix of this Wit & Dre Murray classic with local boy Von Won on the hook.

Get familiar with it now so you can sing along and don’t be surprised if you see some H’s in the air (I promise, they’re not gang signs or Illuminati devil horns) when hear this beat start its slow roll.

5. A good show

My first experience at a Lecrae concert wasn’t a good one. He talked more than he rapped and there wasn’t anything (or anyone) on stage besides himself and mic. Today it’s much different.

Simply put, Lecrae and Reach Records can put on a good show. It’s something they’ve studied and worked on for years (peep my interview with Lecrae at this year’s SXSW posted below) and have gotten better at.

Sure, you’ll get an uplifting, God-glorifying message, but you’ll also get a dope hip hop performance. And breaking news: it’s okay to simply enjoy that at face value.

Tickets for Friday night’s show at Warehouse Live can be purchased online here. Doors open at 6pm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hip hop missionary releases mini-documentary about work in Brookshire, Texas


Houston hip hop missionary Bobby “Tre9” Herring has released a mini-documentary about the work being done in Brookshire, Texas, a town just west of Houston.

The 14-minute-long movie incorporates performance footage, background information, and interviews with Herring, partner pastors, Christian rappers, and students about how Eyes On Me Incorporated’s Hip Hop Hope Missions program has become a part of their lives.

“To often, those of us involved in the Christian hip hop scene get wrapped up in the industry-side of our calling and unfortunately let the ministry-side slide down our priority list,” Herring said.

“Hopefully this documentary will expose the general public to what we believe is our most important job and inspire other urban ministers to pursue their primary mission with even greater passion.”

The short film was shot and edited by Christian rapper Ronnie “Reconcile” Lillard for Frontline Media.

Other gospel-based hip hop artists who appear on screen include:
  • Von Won
  • Corey Paul
  • Colcutz
To learn more about Hip Hop Hope Missions visit

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Behind the scenes of KJ-52′s Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-type video for “Brand New Day”


Yesterday afternoon top-selling Christian rapper KJ-52 dropped one of the most interesting and creative music videos I’ve seen in a while.

In the new clip for “Brand New Day” from his recent Dangerous album, the viewer gets to choose between several options for how the storyline will play out.

Behind the Scenes

After seeing Tweets about the vid from the artist, I reached out to the Florida-based MC to get some details on how it came about.

KJ told me the whole thing was filmed with a GoPro camera strapped to his chest at the Alive Festival last summer. He was hosting/performing for four days on the main stage and had plenty of downtime so he decided to start filming his day from his perspective.

KJ’s Inspiration

I also asked about his inspiration for the clip’s Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style.

“I think I originally got the idea from seeing a first person shooter type of music video,” KJ-52 said. “Once I started messing around with that then it became sort of video-game type music video. Then from there, I thought it would be cool if you could pick different outcomes based on it being similar to a video game.”

A One-Man Band

KJ even told me he shot and edited the entire video using the iMovie software and a mix of footage from the GoPro camera and his iPhone.

Start the adventure in the window below.* Look for cameos from popular Christian music stars such as Lecrae, Family Force 5, Skillet, and DJ Morph and don’t be afraid to select the less-than-glamorous path options. Here, even your bad choices are good ones.

*Be sure to choose the “interactive” version at your first yes/no opportunity.

Also, because the clip’s interactivity depends on links from YouTube it may be best to view this directly within their portal. If you need that option, click here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lecrae’s “Gravity” hits #1 on iTunes


At the time of this post Gravity, the new album from Lecrae, is currently at the #1 position of iTunes’ overall sales chart.

The Houston-born Christian rapper’s project went on sale today and has received a significant mainstream push due to his recent appearances on the BET Awards, his free Church Clothes mixtape, and collaboration songs with secular rappers such as No Malice and Big K.R.I.T.

Houston will get one of only three Gravity release concerts at Warehouse Live on September 28. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

INTERVIEW: Houston rap legend DJ DMD speaks on his Christian conversion and remaking “25 Lighters” into “25 Bibles”

I’ve heard about Houston rap legend DJ DMD‘s religious conversion for a little while now as well as the Christian reworking of his flagship hit “25 Lighters” into “25 Bibles.” I’d been meaning to catch up with him about it and it worked out that I was able to get a little bit of his time when the MOVE Tour hit our city last month.

We’ve had longer conversations that I’ll write about later, but here you can hear him tell his story in his own words and talk about how the remake came about.


He humbly downplays highlights like, you know, working with DJ Screw, Bun B, Pimp C, Lil Keke and Fat Pat. Oh yeah, there’s also a small comment about the fact that this track was also reinterpreted by Rick Rubin and ZZ Top for this summer’s “Battleship” movie. There’s a great piece about that in this month’s Texas Monthly magazine if you missed it.

Also, DJ DMD will be shooting a video for this track in Port Arthur this Saturday, August 25 with noted hip hop cinematographer Mr. Boomtown. For details on how to participate, click here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

INTERVIEW: Sean Simmonds talks about making Xist Music a label of 2nd chances

During the MOVE Tour stop in Houston last month I got the chance to sit down with Sean Simmonds to discuss his art and the process of building Xist Music into a label of second chances for guys like Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and The Ambassador.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

INTERVIEW: Heath McNease discusses his free C.S. Lewis-inspired album


I recently caught up with rapper/singer Heath McNease via e-mail to discuss his new album, the Disney “Narnia” movies, and whether or not we’ll ever see another C.S. Lewis.

Sketch: Which of C.S. Lewis’ books was the most challenging for you to write a song about? Why?

Heath: Definitely The Problem of Pain. I wrote “A Grief Observed” early on…and I was really conscience of trying to make clear distinctions between the two songs lyrically, because they deal with some overlapping themes.

I was just going about “Problem of Pain” all wrong sonically at first. I wanted it to have too much of a serious vibe musically. So I actually ended up writing it on the ukulele and then recording it on the piano. Musically it sounded far more upbeat. Once the sonic palette was brighter…it made the lyrics stand in stark contrast. I love how it turned out.

Sketch: What was your take on the recent film adaptations of the “Narnia” series?

Heath: I saw the first one and loved it. I thought it was great. I saw Prince Caspian once, and I thought it was fun. I haven’t seen Dawn Treader yet, but I’m sure I will at some point.

I think I was kinda upset at Disney letting go of the product. Disney handled the franchise so well. But I’m sure I’ll see it eventually. Obviously it’s hard to capture every detail from the books, so you hope to capture the spirit of the work which is what I tried to do with my songs.

Sketch: This album showcases more of your acoustic singer/songwriter side. Did you attempt any of these songs in hip hop first? Why or why not?

Heath: Well it’s not totally acoustic. I actually made a concerted effort for it to not be an acoustic album. It’s definitely more of an indie/folk rock record. I actually thought in the beginning about what it might sound like if it was a hip hop record. But I just feel like people try to capture the lyrical nature of Lewis all the time. I wanted to approach it from more of a “vibe” perspective. And it just came down to what style could best capture that. And for me…it lent itself to songwriting instead of rapping.

Sketch: Since I’m from Houston, I have to ask, are there any “chopped and screwed” sounds to be heard on your version of “The Screwtape Letters?” I’ve always thought that would be a natural take on the story from a hip hop perspective.

Heath: Haha. That’s actually a great idea. That was definitely not my interpretation of it. But I’d love to hear someone take that idea and run with it.

Sketch: Will our faith ever have another C.S. Lewis? Why or why not?

Heath: I don’t know, man. That’s an awesome question. I tend to think we will if we have another catastrophic war – which I certainly hope we don’t. But Lewis and Tolkein were both severely affected by the World Wars. It existed in the way they interpreted so many things. Just being soldiers, that informed so much. It did the same with Kurt Vonnegut.

And faith took a dramatic shift in England following World War II. I always thought Lewis fought against the current of the hatred and disbelief that ran rampant at the time. And he did it with depth, warmth, and humor. Sadly the best writers, thinkers, creators, etc. are usually products of terrible tragedies. So as much as I hope we get another C.S. Lewis…I hope we don’t need one.

The Weight of Glory: Songs Inspired by the Works of C.S. Lewis can be streamed and downloaded on a pay-what-you-want-basis (including FREE) at the artist’s Bandamp site.

Listeners can also choose from a variety of financial support options that offer rewards of signed CDs, personalized thank-you videos, and house concerts.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I’m not mad that rapper Slim Thug advocates abortion as birth control


Last week the online hip hop community was buzzing with news that mainstream rapper Slim Thug, in passages from his financial self-help book How to Survive in a Recession, called abortion “necessary” and likened it to birth control.

As a fellow Houstonian, rap fan, and Christian I’m not as up in arms about this as some might think.
In full disclosure, I’ve not had a chance to read the book or the chapter in question. But reports that I’ve seen quote Thug as saying/writing:
“I think abortion is necessary on some occasions. People be against it, but people don’t deal with the real life situations some people deal with. I don’t think it’s right, I don’t think it’s good to have a baby and not be with the father.”
“Even though I got three baby mamas … it’s working out. But it ain’t right. I ain’t saying wait three or four months. If it’s immediate, it’s like birth control to me.”
That being said, Slim is correct in stressing the importance and value of fathers being present in the lives of their kids. He’s incorrect in stating that abortion is a valid form of birth control.

But are people really taking this statement seriously? My understanding is that Slim uses a lot of humor and sarcasm in the book. In fact, it’s been indicated that his appearance in a similarly-themed skit on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2009 was the inspiration for this project.

To me, this abortion line comes off a satirical recommendation in the spirit of Jonathan Swift’s famous Modest Proposal that poor Irish citizens ease their financial woes by selling children as food to their rich countrymen.

In my experience, rappers are often a lot more intelligent than their public personas may indicate. And they’re exponentially more media-savvy than they are given credit for. Slim is out to sell books and with this type of statement he’s garnered the attention he wanted for its promotion.

Besides, if financial advice is the main theme of the manuscript, from a simply economic standpoint, isn’t an abortion a more expensive form of birth control than a box of condoms?!?

* Hat tip to Shea Serrano who prompted this blog post with a question posed to me on Twitter that didn’t get used in the Houston Press.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hip-Hop Worship artist Rawsrvnt teams with Jamaican reggae star St. Matthew for ‘Soul Deep’ hybrid EP


These days, some of the most popular music is built upon “dream team” collaborations of artists from different genres, geographies, or camps.

So it is with much delight that Soul Deep and Readyback Records, in association with Lion of Judah Sounds (DJ Frost/Monty G), announce that Hip-Hop Worship artist Rawsrvnt has teamed with Jamaican reggae star St. Matthew for a hybrid EP called Soul Deep that fuses both of their individual sounds.

The project also carries the momentum of one of its key tracks, “The Almighty,” winning the 2012 En Sound Music Award for Best Gospel Reggae Song.

Rawsrvnt met St. Matthew in 2011 while visiting Jamaica on a missions trip. The two instantly clicked and linked up soon after to record the song “The Almighty” for Rawsrvnt’s Love Deluxe album. Shortly after that release the duo reunited in Kingston, JA to film a music video for the cut.

“Part of my goal as an entertainer and music missionary has been to create great music that appeals to the masses and shares the love of Jesus,” Rawsrvnt said. “By partnering with St. Matthew we can add an international, island vibe to that mix and attract even more people to this life-changing message.”

Soul Deep will be available worldwide through all major digital outlets (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, etc.) on Tuesday, August 7.

Both artists believe that if at least 1,000 fans download the EP on its release date they will make a Top 10 chart ranking on iTunes which can ultimately lead to new listeners experiencing this life-changing message through music.

“I would definitely love to see Soul Deep hit that goal and make Christ famous in a genre that, while spiritual and substantive, often pushes King Jesus to the background,” Rawsrvnt said.

The project can be purchased through most digital download sits including iTunes and

Fans who wish to support the project are urged to use the #SoulDeep hashtag on social media networks and visit for FREE electronic wallpapers and other goodies.

Monday, August 6, 2012

INTERVIEW: Lil Dre talks about his new album, Houston-ties, and how starting out as a Christian rapper has impacted his ministry

Lil Dre performs in Houston last year.
Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Under Construction, the second album from Oklahoma City-based Christian rap artist Lil Dre, was released July 31. I recently caught up with him via e-mail to discuss the project, his Houston ties, and how starting out Christian rapper has impacted his ministry.

Sketch: You were born in South Park and raised in Bryan, Texas. What is it about this part of the Lone Star State that fosters so many Christian rappers? 

Lil Dre: From what I’ve experienced, this part of the south is open to the diversity of individuals being themselves. The times I did hear cats like Bun B (a rapper from the mainstream group UGK) at school, they seemed to push the issue of “trill” which is all about being who you are. So it always seemed that as long as you kept it real, with who you are and what you spit…people would support you. Recognizing that really allowed me to confidently stay in my lane and try to represent Christ in all I do. In music, basketball, and just everyday life my friends would say I acted different but I was just trying to keep it “100” since our parents raised us in the word of God.

Sketch: You told me before that, unlike many in this genre, you actually started out as Christian rapper and didn’t attempt a secular music career before this. How do you think that has impacted your art and ministry?

Lil Dre: Honestly, I think it’s bittersweet because there was a negative and positive impact for me.

Knowing and accepting who I am in Christ at an early age allowed me to build the foundation I’d need later in life. So regardless of my shortcomings, I have no shame of sharing them with my friends and family to assist me with accountability and as a testimony to those in similar situations.

On the flip side I believe my craft could be that much better if I were to use multiple styles and genres of music to study. For instance, when I wanted to get better at basketball, I went to the hoods where I knew the ballers were…not just my church camps.


Sketch: Under Construction is your second album on Church Boy Entertainment. What’s changed since you dropped Strapped Up?

Lil Dre: Musically: my knowledge of the business. Being able to share with a broader audience has brought some joyous adventures and some situations I’d like to forget. Unfortunately it comes with the territory so it has grown me. Ced [Church Boy’s CEO], Aslan [the label’s resident DJ] and the older men on the team have always been there to teach and guide.

Personally: EVERYTHING! Ha! A new position on my job, marriage, new roles as a man (husband/father), and another baby girl due September 8.That’s what took so long from the last project, I was (still am) doing so much adjusting I had to lighten my load for a while until I learned how to properly balance.

Sketch: What’s your take on recently-revived “Christian rapper/rapper who is a Christian” label debate?

Lil Dre: On the cool I don’t have much of an opinion on the matter. I think there are more important issues to be tackled – like potty training my daughter! Help!

In all seriousness though, I say “to each his own.” It’s cliché, I know. Personally I just don’t want to try and determine what kind of tree it is without checking out its contents (or fruit). I’ve just always used the “Christian rapper” label because, no matter who hears my music, they can hold me accountable to it. I’ve been “called out” a few times.

Sketch: Be real, how hard did you pray for the OKC Thunder to win the NBA Championship and how hard did you cry afterward?

Lil Dre: Haha! Let me first say I love Oklahoma. They are amazing here. With that said, I’m a proud Miami Heat fan since 2004 when I left high school and D. Wade left Marquette.

Did I mention how much I LOVE Oklahoma? #HeatNation

To learn more about Lil Dre and Under Construction visit

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The math behind Lecrae’s “Gravity” imagery

I’ve studied and think I have it figured out.

Lecrae’s Gravity drops September 4.

Houston will get one of only three Gravity release concerts at Warehouse Live on September 28. Tickets can be purchased online here.

* Think being the key word. After I initially published this post my man Jaap pointed out that De La Soul‘s Art Official Intelligence: Bionix should be added to the formula. He’s dead on, so I adjusted.

Also, Illuminati conspiracy lovers will probably point out that, similar to Trip Lee‘s The Good Life artwork, only one of Lecrae’s eyes is visible in the promo shot. Now run along to YouTube to post your pontifications.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

INTERVIEW: Ambassador speaks on the Meek Mill / “Amen” / Pastor Jomo situation

During a tour stop in Houston this past weekend, I sat down with one of Christian hip hop’s elite (The Ambassador’s Christology is often cited at the G.O.A.T. album within the genre) to discuss the recent dustup over “Amen.”

For those who may need a refresher, Meek Mill’s “Amen” song and video uses a traditional black church organ riff and lots of religious language praising the pleasures of women and liquor. Pastor Jomo K. Johnson led a public campaign against the track and the two had a conversation joint phone call about the topic on Philly’s Hot 107.9.

Meek later offered an apology on BET’s “106 & Park” and Jomo dropped his boycott. But since Mill, Jomo, and The Ambassador all hail from the “City of Brotherly Love” I figured this might contribute to the ongoing discussion about what type of content defines sacred, secular, or blasphemous hip hop music.

You may have also seen my interview with Da’ T.R.U.T.H. about the same topic. It’s interesting how similar their responses are given that these conversations were recorded at separate times without the other one in the room. They weren’t given any sort of heads up on what questions I would be asking either.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saturday’s MOVE Tour brings nationally-known gospel rap, pop, and R&B acts to Houston


Saturday’s MOVE Tour will bring nationally-known gospel rap, pop, and R&B acts to Houston. Names on the bill include Jessica Reedy (BET’s “Sunday Best”), The Ambassador, Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Sean Simmonds, B.Reith, and emcee/producer/recording artist DJ MaL-Ski.

Like last year’s Misfit Tour, the event was organized by Xist Music and UpLift! Group. Compassion International ministry and Houston’s G.O.A.T. Radio are also listed as sponsors who helped bring the concert to our city.

In a recent interview with DJ Wade-O, The Ambassador discussed the “MOVE” theme and said “Because God is always moving, we should be too. Some people need to ‘move’ out the way, some need to ‘move’ forward because they’re standing still, and others need to ‘move’ back because they’re off track.”

On July 17, the event released its official theme song. “MOVE (Chasing You)” features all tour members in a hip hop-style “cypha” and will be performed each night of the tour.

The MOVE Tour will take place at Christian Life Church, 6650 Rankin Rd. Houston, TX 77393 from 6:30pm to 10:30pm. Tickets can be purchased online at

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Rawsrvnt’s Fallin’ In Love?!? Is new song about God, a girl, or both?

“Fallin’ In Love” is the new summer jam from Florida hip hop worship artist Rawsrvnt. The track’s high-energy, electropop beat and vocal stylings are tailor-made for beach parties and radio requests, but its ambiguous lyrics may cause some fans to ask whether the song is about God, a girl, or both.

Is it okay for a Christian artist to make a song about romantic love instead of godly love? What if it’s a mix of both?

Does it bleed into the “Jesus-is-my-boyfriend” territory that some believers feel is a negative trend in modern worship music? Or is it simply a strategic decision to attempt to expose and connect faith-based art to as many different people as possible?

“I wrote ‘Fallin’ In Love’ in a moment of pure passion,” Rawsrvnt cryptically stated.

“As with any piece of quality art, I think it’s up to the consumer to spend time with it and ultimately decide both what they believe the author intended and the message they’re going to take away from it.”

The song, which was produced by Crane and features Christian rapper Milliyon, is currently available for purchase from iTunes.

Fans who are “Fallin’ In Love” with the track are urged to use the #LoveStruck hashtag on social media networks and visit for FREE electronic wallpapers and other goodies.

A full visual version of “Fallin’ In Love” is set to release on Tuesday, July 24th.

Monday, July 16, 2012

CY returns to original stage name

Tweaking a trend of Christian rappers reverting to their birth names for recordings and stage performances, the MC formerly known as CY will now go by CYclone – the hip hop identity he assumed shortly after his encounter with Jesus at the age of 17.

“I believe my art is like a furious funnel cloud that packs in a variety of styles and ultimately spins out something unique,” Timothy “CYclone” Gross explained.

As he began to incorporate his faith into hip hop Gross adopted the moniker CYclone but noticed it would often get abbreviated as his music began to receive nationwide attention.

After launching the Circus World Event…The Ringleader album at the 2007 Texas Holy Hip Hop Achievement Awards (where MTV personality Sway was a presenter) to critical acclaim, CYclone began to pray about the direction of its much anticipated follow-up.

Whereas The Ringleader’s concept envisioned our world as a circus with one true ringleader (God) and an imposter (Satan) who plots and schemes for the same position, High Wire Act plays off a tight rope metaphor that represents the narrow road believers in Christ must walk in order to receive eternal life. That project also carries other messages about the humility that must be maintained by those placed in lofty positions.

CYclone’s High Wire Act employed a gloomier carnival sound and explosive energy. Each song was painstakingly crafted to embody a singular theme where both the music and lyrics meld together to transport audiences to a specific time and place. A perfect example is the song “Ice Cream Truck” which takes the listener back to the youthful days of chasing after their neighborhood’s mobile, sweet treat shop. Here, CYclone is handing out a variety of lyrical ice cream bars.

It’s versatile and accessible to all listeners with guest artists like Young Joshua, Von Won, Gifted, FireJaws, D. Steele, One Dose, Kent & Shellee Coley, and tracks produced by himself, Phillip Moore, Tony Stone, Vohn Beats/Symbolyc One, Jimmy Natural and others.

So far, CYclone has four albums to his credit and has established his own Complex Melodies production company and record label.

To learn more about the artist visit

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Is Lecrae flip-flopping on the “Christian rapper” title?

Who’s the next contestant on the “Are you a Christian rapper or a Rapper who is a Christian?” game show?

Well Bob, he’s actually someone who’s graced our stage once before. Scraping the sky at well over six feet tall, he’s the co-owner of Reach Records known for his “Jesus Muzik”… it’s the big homie Lecrae.

Yes indeed, Crayola is back in the headlines after giving a written interview with where it appears he’s re-embracing the “Christian rapper” label.
FC: When you hear the term “Christian rap” or “Christian hip hop,” what do you think?

Lecrae: I think what people are trying to communicate is that there are redeemed individuals within hip hop culture. And I would say I’m one of them. I think that as a Christian, we’re to be a light in this world. I think it’s almost like saying “Christian American,” it doesn’t mean that I’m not American, it just means that I’m distinctly and authentically Christian as much as I am American. And so my Christianity is going to permeate throughout my American-ness. So when I think about Christian hip hop I think of an individual who is a Christian who is using hip hop to communicate things that God will endorse.

So what does this mean to the ongoing debate? Is Lecrae a flip-flopper or a man with a divided mind?

I say no. He’s probably just being strategic.

In one instance (see clip above), he’s talking to an audience who may have negative, preconceived notions about what his music sounds like and talks about. In another, he’s speaking to the website of one of the largest Christian bookstore chains in the nation – a business that still plays a key role in record sales for his label.

My guess is that, like me and several others, Lecrae believes that whether or not he puts forth the “Christian rapper” or “Rapper who is a Christian” title is inconsequential.

People are going to label him and his music regardless of his preference, the content is going to stay the same, and that, like fellow rapper NomiS said, the title doesn’t really matter as long as the “Spirit’s In It.”

So cut the dude some slack and trust that he’s being led by the Holy Spirit and considering each individual audience as he answers such pointed questions.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hip-Hop Worship artist Rawsrvnt rejoins THE STORY Tour with Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, Pastor Randy Frazee and others


For the second year in a row Eddy “Rawsrvnt” Puyol will bring his unique Hip-Hop Worship style to THE STORY Tour.

Presented by World Vision, the event is billed as a Christmas celebration with carols and a musical journey from Genesis to Revelation. It features a full choir and orchestra led by musical director Bernie Herms and songs from Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall, Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, Matthew West, Nichole Nordeman, and Selah.

Renowned author and pastor Randy Frazee co-wrote THE STORY project’s book component with Max Lucado and will be on the tour each night to bring its message to life.

“My world collided with Eddy’s (Rawsrvnt) world at THE STORY Tour 2011. He introduced me to the wonderful space of hip-hop as each evening he brought the house down with his performance,” Frazee said. “But, what blew me away the most is the man I got to know off stage. Eddy Puyol is the real deal with a heart of heavenly gold.”

In addition to traveling with the group for last year’s event, Rawsrvnt also performed THE STORY medley on the 43rd Dove Awards national telecast.

“Last year I heard Natalie Grant say that I raised the ‘cool factor’ of the tour,” Rawsrvnt said with a smile.

“She’s super cool and I’m looking forward to celebrating this joyous season with the audience and some of our faith’s most talented musicians.”

To learn more about Rawsrvnt visit:

To learn more about THE STORY Tour visit:

2012 Tour Dates

11/23 Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY
11/24 Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
11/25 Gwinnett Center, Duluth, GA
11/26 USF Sun Dome, Tampa, FL
11/27 Colonial Center, Columbia, SC
11/29 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
11/30 University of Illinois Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL
12/1 Independence Event Center, Independence, MO
12/2 Xcel Center, St. Paul, MN
12/3 Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, SD
12/4 Sears Centre Arena, Hoffman Estates, IL
12/6 Berry Center, Cypress, TX
12/7 American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
12/8 Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, TX

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NomiS: If the “Spirit In It” then “Christian rapper” label doesn’t matter

As I noted back in May, the “I’m-a-proud-Christian-rapper” versus the “I’d-prefer-you-just-say-I’m-a-rapper-who-is-a-Christian” debate has been freshly revived by artists like Lecrae and Trip Lee. Former Cross Movement Records artist R-Swift also recently weighed in on Trackstarz Radio, DJ Wade-O wrote a blog about it, and now West Coast vet NomiS has released a full song communicating his take on the matter.

I recently caught up with the Gallery Drive MC via e-mail to discuss the song, why he thinks the “Christian rapper” label is a more profitable career choice, and whether or not he believes the discussion will ever go away.

Sketch: What prompted you to write and record “Spirit In It?” 

NomiS: There wasn’t one specific incident. The inspiration to write this song was a result of many repeated incidents. As an artist, when something is on my mind a lot, I write about it. Initially I didn’t want to make a song because I kind of felt like it was a “dead horse” type of topic. But then I realized that nobody had really talked about it in depth in an actual rap song. Previous to this it was seemingly just a conversation that many were having amongst their own biased circles.

I really wanted to present my opinion in a direct, yet non-confrontational manner. I actually went back and re-wrote a lot of the song because I had to check my own spirit when writing it.


Sketch: You recently got some heat from conservative Christian rap fans for allowing a non-Christian rapper, Sadat X of Brand Nubian fame, to do a guest feature on your upcoming Searching for Alpha Trion album. Did that also play a part in sparking the idea for you to write this song? What did that experience (either recording with Sadat or having to respond to critics or both) teach you?

NomiS: It actually had nothing to do with that. I wrote and recorded the “Spirit In It” track about a year ago. I cut it from this new album because I felt it didn’t fit the vibe of the record honestly. BUT, due to the recent changes happening in “Christian Hip Hop” and due to the fact that I think the song is important, I was encouraged to put it out.

As for the song with Sadat, I’m honored to have someone who’s played a role as large as his in hip hop to be on one of my songs. As for the negative response I’ve gotten from that, sadly I’ve come to expect that from the “CHH” community.

For some reason, some people just can’t fathom the idea that their conviction for how a Christ-centered artist should go about his ministry isn’t a universal one. I’m not out here saying that “my way” is “THE” way to go about it. I’m saying that “my way” is “A” way to go about it. Tedashii is going to have a different approach than I would and that’s the beauty of the body of Christ. It takes all parts to do their job for the body to function properly. In fact Tedashii and I were just talking about this about a week ago. We share a mutual respect for each other’s approach.

Sketch: You’ve told me before that although you attempt to follow the ways of Jesus, you dislike the term Christian rapper. Have you ever been called a coward or been told you’re ashamed of the Gospel (like the people you mention in this song) because you don’t identify yourself with that label? If so, what was that like?

NomiS: These days man, I gave up on that “don’t call me a Christian Rapper” battle. It really isn’t one worth fighting anymore. I would never refer to myself as that, but if someone else does, it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.

I make honest music. I love Jesus, I carry a burden for social justice and I love hip hop. I want to focus more on always bettering my craft and living out the things I rap about. I’ll let people call it what they want.

I’ve never been called a coward or “ashamed of the Gospel” to my face, but I for sure have via message boards or in some form of online comments. When it happens I don’t get very mad, but I honestly feel pity for the people saying it. In my head it’s like, “These dudes have no idea that the fervor they’re using to insult me (they would probably call it rebuking me because that way they feel justified) is ridiculously misguided”. On another note, I find it highly comical when they “rebuke” me on Christian websites and use all sorts of profanity in the name of Jesus. For some reason, that legitimately makes me laugh out loud when I see it. Does that make me a bad person? (Laughs)

Sketch: From the song, it sounds like you believe that labeling yourself as a “Christian rapper” is an easier and more profitable career choice than being a Christian who doesn’t carry that title. Is that the case? Why?

NomiS: I definitely believe that but let me clarify something first. I don’t think there is ANY PROBLEM AT ALL with some artists taking that route. As I said before, for some people that is the way to go because they can reach and minister to a group that needs to hear it in that fashion.

But, the reality is this: Rap music is ridiculously over-saturated right now due to the overwhelmingly large amount of social media that gives any and everybody a voice. And the advancement in technology in the last six years or so has allowed home recordings with decent quality to be very easily accessible to the world.

Next I’ll use extremely large and round numbers to make my point, but you’ll understand the example. In “Christian rap music,” a new artist is like one more name amongst the million that already exist. But in the “secular” rap world, a new artist is more like one more name amongst the billion that already exist! Imagine that “secular rap music” is a pie and “Christian rap music” is a pie of the exact same size. Splitting the pie a million ways is MUCH easier to get a decent sized piece of the pie than splitting it a billion ways. You feel me? There are a large number of people that buy “Christian music” exclusively. Being that I am in fact a Christian, it would make much more sense economically to do what I can to tap into that market.

For those of you not involved in the industry outside of listening to music, please believe that “Christian music” is a legitimate business. Also, in my experience, the ratio of people who buy music instead of illegally pirating music is much higher in the Christian world. This is another reason why it makes more sense to gear what I do towards that. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but I think I’ve made my point. I could talk about this stuff forever.


Sketch: As more artists like Lecrae, Trip Lee, R-Swift, and JR are taking this stance do you think the “Christian rapper” vs. “Rapper who is a Christian” debate will ever go away? Why or why not?

NomiS: Unfortunately I’m pretty confident that it won’t ever go away. I can’t imagine what it would take for people to change their minds because they seem to feel so strongly about their stance. Maybe if Lecrae wins a Grammy and does an alter call on stage and we see Lil Wayne repent before the world – then MAYBE people will start to loosen up a little. Haha.

NomiS’ next album, Searching for Alpha Trion, drops Tuesday, July 17 at all major digital download storefronts.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rapper’s “Church In The Wild” reality show asks Houstonians' thoughts on spiritual issues


“Church In The Wild” is a new, web-based interview and teaching series filmed, edited, and produced by Houston rapper Albert Archie.

I recently caught up with the Christian MC via e-mail to discuss the project, find out how much hip hop plays a part in it, and to ask about the brawling housewives missing from his reality show.

Sketch: What sparked the idea for your new “Church In the Wild” web-series? Was it the Kanye West and Jay-Z’s song of a similar name from “Watch the Throne?”

Archie: I’ve gotten a lot of questions about that. The truth is I’ve always been involved in video production and a while back I had an idea to start up a reality series that was geared around doing exactly what I’m doing right now. Though I didn’t have a creative name yet, the idea and vision has been in me for a long time. Then when I started to put the vision into motion my eyes were turned towards the Watch The Throne project and one of the songs titled “No Church In The Wild.”

That song title seems to say that the Church (meaning: Christians) aren’t in the “wild” (meaning: amongst non-believers) I saw it as an excellent opportunity to combat that and show that Christians are called to amongst non-believers, loving on them, and shining the light of Jesus to them.

Sketch: You’re calling your new “Church In the Wild” web-series a “reality show” but I didn’t see any housewives having drunken brawls or anyone getting eliminated at the end of each episode. What gives?

Archie: It’s funny you ask that, I actually had it planned in the near future to hire a couple woman I know from down the street to grab a couple of Louisville Sluggers and go at it like there’s no tomorrow. On top of that, I think on some of the episodes we can squeeze in some college people “partying like its 1999.”

Just kidding! But in all seriousness and jokes aside, reality by definition is “The state or quality of being real” and I think it’s safe to say that a lot of “reality” shows that come on TV aren’t actually reality at all.

I think there is nothing more real than going to a random place catching someone of guard and asking them their thoughts and beliefs on a specific topic and have them give you a straight up answer.


Sketch: You’re currently five episodes in, but how long do you think this will continue? Are you looking to find a way to get it on television? If so, how?

Archie: That’s a good question. I’ve been really debating on how long this will go.

I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. I figure there are always topics that people want to give their opinion about and even more so, there are always misconceptions that people have or sometimes they just don’t understand about the Bible. So with that, there is always going to be the possibility of having an episode of CITW to be able to answer that question.

As far a broadcast TV, I honestly never thought about that. I’m not necessarily shooting for that, but if the opportunity opens up, I think it would be a huge way to push the point of the series and make it more informative to people on a much larger scale.

Sketch: How does hip hop culture play a part in the show?

Archie: The hip hop culture not only plays a part in the show because I’m a hip hop artist, but also because I think that the hip hop culture can be very naive to a lot of things that take place. And then in the Christian hip hop community it can be so easy to get involved into that community and not really understand any type of theology or doctrine.

This is geared to be so informative on what scripture says about specific topics that involve the hip hop community and regular everyday life as well.

Also as Christians, we should never allow ourselves to be caught in a “Christian Bubble” to where we don’t understand anything that anyone else believes. One of the best ways to reach our culture is to know where they are at.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying know where the culture’s at in order to conform into what the culture is doing – that would be unbiblical. But, I am saying that we need to understand where the culture is coming from so that we will be enabled to reach our culture better.

Sketch: What’s been your favorite experience or response so far?

Archie: This reality series “Church In The Wild” kills about seven birds with one stone for me.
A few birds that this Goliath size stone kills are the obvious: it opens the door for people to be able to see the truth about what scripture says about Christians, Jesus, and how we are called to live as believers in Jesus.

A lot of times people can have skewed views about Jesus because they’ve only heard about him from another person and perhaps have never actually heard about him from the Bible. Also, it allows believers in Jesus to see how people who don’t believe in Jesus believe in order for Christians to be able to reach out to our culture.

Now, a couple of the feathered friends who have been hit with these stones that people don’t really get to see is the fact that I get to build and work with other believers as I prepare each episode. Talking and getting to know them is such a joy to me.

I strategically wanted to have a different person featured on each episode to illustrate that this show isn’t all about Archie and that I am not the only believer who has a heart for the world and for making clear what scripture says about certain topics. But this also really lets me put in work alongside other people that are fighting in the Kingdom as well.

Like I’ve said in some of the episodes; I am not a guru, nor do I claim to know all the answers. I just know that the Bible does. That’s why I encourage people to dive into the scripture for themselves as well.
Finally, it’s also fun to just get out and interact with people. Everyone has an opinion and its really cool seeing how they long to express their opinions.

To learn more about Archie view other episodes of the show visit