Monday, April 30, 2012

Freestyle Rhyming: The Missing Power Tool of Christian Rap Ministry


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking in the “Whose Rhyme Is it Anyway?” tour stop with Playdough, Heath McNease, and RedCloud on the campus of my alma mater – Sam Houston State University.

The event is a freestyle hip hop concert in the vein of the “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” TV show of improv skits and comedy. Here, the three dudes take audience suggestions for games and setups and let their off-the-top skills fill in the rest.

I have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable hip hop related sets I’ve been to lately. The only thing that may have topped it was our MC skills competition at SXSW which, coincidentally, also featured rappers performing freestyle verses and challenges.

Combine that with the fact that this tour primarily targets secular colleges and venues, and I’m led to believe that Christians in the hip hop community need to utilize this time-honored tradition and skill more often.

Too frequently, we’re accused of biting and unoriginality. When we freestyle, we showcase our creativity and can offer a unique, all-ages brand of entertainment that most people welcome and are drawn to.

The Homeless Heroes project stuff that Jerrell Johnson and his man Set do down in Tampa is another good example of the way this skill can be used to share a message of hope with people who might otherwise turn away from traditional “Christian hip hop.”

Bottom line:
If you’re a faith-based rapper and are NOT utilizing some form of freestyle rap in your performance and ministry I think you’re missing a great opportunity to expand your audience - which can ultimately lead to more lives being changed through Christ.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Dove Awards air tonight, Christian rap represents with Lecrae, Rawsrvnt, & others


The 2012 Dove Awards air on the GMC network tonight at 8pm CST. 

Christian hip hop is represented through sets by Lecrae and Tedashii with DJ P Dogg and Rawsrvnt performing alongside Michael Tait of the Newsboys, Blanca Callahan of Group 1 Crew, Todd Smith of Selah and Natalie Grant for a special medley from THE STORY Tour.

Christian hip hop award winners include: 

Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year
"Hallelujah" - Rehab Deluxe Edition - Lecrae


Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year
Rehab: The Overdose - Lecrae

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rawsrvnt to perform at 2012 Dove Awards


Hip hop worship artist Rawsrvnt will join Lecrae in representing Christian rap as a performer at the 2012 Dove Awards. Rawsrvnt’s segment will be part of The Story Tour montage.

Last December Rawsrvnt joined the tour which was billed as a Christmas spectacular with carols and a musical journey from Genesis to Revelation. It featured Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Natalie Grant, Selah, Anthem Lights, and special guests Max Lucado and Randy Frazee.

The 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards will take place on April 19 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and be nationally televised on GMC TV on April 24 at 8:00PM Eastern.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rawsrvnt teams with 69 Boyz member Thrill da Playa for “El Shaddai” bass worship record


“Bass Ain’t Dead.” At least that’s the message you get when you talk to Thrill Da Playa. As a member of the multi-platinum secular group 69 Boyz, Thrill helped pen and release Florida bass records like “Tootsee Roll,” “Come On Ride It (The Train),” and even the Grammy-nominated “Space Jam” movie theme.

Now, as a rededicated Christian who is making music for the mainstream market, he’s hoping to revitalize the fun, party-atmosphere his style of hip hop always hoped to foster – just now with a clean, positive edge.

That comes in the form of his recently released Bass Ain’t Dead mixtape and the new single “El Shaddai.”

The track features hip hop worship artist Rawsrvnt using both his pop and regional sensibilities to create one of the most interesting Christian rap songs you’re bound to ever hear.

“I believe ‘El Shaddai’ is gonna have some people worshiping God in a real Florida way,” Eddy “Rawsrvnt” Puyol said.

The two initially connected after Thrill invited Rawsrvnt to come out to his User Friendly album release party and support the positive direction he was moving toward with his new music.

“He came down and we just bonded and clicked automatically,” Thrill said. “He’s been able to help me navigate some things without even preaching or saying it. I just watch his walk and lifestyle and that’s helped me a lot.”

While “El Shaddai” is intended for listeners who are already believers to use in vertical worship of God the Father, Thrill’s other music, like the songs heard on Bass Ain’t Dead, are designed to simply offer a positive form of expression for a mainstream audience.


Thrill said that after his rededication to follow Jesus he was tempted to only create and release for the Christian market.

“I’m thankful for some things I went through because it became very clear to me, almost like His voice was in the room with me, that God was saying ‘If you go over there then who is going to be here [in the secular market]?’”

He said that listening to mainstream radio revealed to him how little programming is dedicated to offering a positive message. By his count it’s less than 30 minutes in a 24 hour day – a number he desperately wants to change and with a method that has the full support of Rawsrvnt.

“I love what Thrill’s doing,” Rawsrvnt said.

Rawsrvnt said that Thrill is uniquely sharing the love of God to the mainstream world the only way he knows how to – by simply being real and staying true to his background and talent base in the world of fun, dance style hip hop.

“I’m not only a fan, but also a friend, and I tell him all the time how important his role is in the Kingdom,” Rawsrvnt said.

“That’s what we’re both in this for – to love God and love people. And our song ‘El Shaddai’ is a way of thanking our Lord for the ways He’s worked in both of our lives.”

“El Shaddai” is available on
iTunes as a joint release from both Rawsrvnt’s Soul Deep Records and Thrill Da Playa’s Responsible Recordings.


Soul Deep is asking fans to show support for the record by reposting the following information on their social networks:

Get @Rawsrvnt & @THRILLDAPLAYA of the 69 Boyz bass worship record "El Shaddai" on iTunes & leave your feedback! Thanx!

@Rawsrvnt & @THRILLDAPLAYA of the 69 Boyz release a bass worship record that'll have you jammin FLA style! Enjoy!

Listen to @Rawsrvnt & @THRILLDAPLAYA of the 69 Boyz bass worship record "El Shaddai" on YouTube & leave your feedback!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

INTERVIEW: Cody Miles talks Apocrypha, bringing Christian hip hop to college, and writing rap songs about Old Testament love stories


I recently caught up with rapper/full-time student Cody Miles via e-mail to discuss his new album, bringing Christian hip hop to campus at Sam Houston State University, and writing rap songs about Old Testament love stories.

Sketch: Your new album is called Apocrypha and you’re in a group called Kenosis. What’s with the odd terminology? It all sounds like Greek to me.

Cody: Haha, I'm not sure, man. When it all comes down to it I just want people to think I'm smarter than I am. Apocrypha is just a Greek word that means, "what is hidden." My new album is a revealing of what is hidden, and it attacks that at different angles.

Kenosis is Greek for "an emptying." Paul uses it in Philippians when he says that Christ became nothing by being made in human likeness.

I just really enjoy the intensity behind those words. But, Saiza Inc. has told me that they won't release another album with me unless I talk in English from now on. Haters.

Sketch: You started to release the album in “drip-fashion” on April 5 with the first 100 downloads of each song-of-the-week being free. How and why did you get the idea to put the project out this way?

Cody: We're kind of pulling a Macklemore. We've spent countless all-nighters making every track extremely special. And, I mean, there really isn't a song on the album that I would consider filler.

Mista Min, Skeli, and I just believe that the music we make can impact and change lives and we want our audience to digest this project slowly. We tackle a myriad of different topics- from the current state of hip-hop, to the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, and even excommunication. I think that things that are important to understand take time, and we're just communicating that.

Sketch: The album was produced exclusively by Mista Min from Munich, Germany. How’d you connect with him and why did you decide to eschew the common hip hop method of using a variety of producers for your project?

Cody: Well, not exclusively. The last track, "Simple Man" featuring Manchild, was produced by Skeli. But, Mista Min and I have been friends for a whole minute. We did a song together on the first Kenosis album called "Lyrical Kings" and he has consistently produced beats on all of my projects.

Last November, he called me and asked if I wanted to do an album with him. So, we're here. The dude is just phenomenal. I've never seen a producer who is able to consistently pull out so many different styles. He's not too shabby as a rapper either. He's featured twice on the album. I'm just so thankful for that guy's vision, his heart and his passion for music.

Sketch: You told me that one of the upcoming songs is a modern day retelling of Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. What inspired this obvious club-banger?

Cody: Bro, this is one of the most important tracks I've ever done. It's called "Gomer's Song" and it can be downloaded on my Bandcamp site. It was actually the first song I wrote for the album.

I had been really digging into eschatology and, in that, I saw this incredible picture of God coming after his people, Israel, even after they continuously went after foreign gods. This song is a picture of God's heart for his people. I think if we are able to understand that illustration, we can really begin to grasp the Old Testament.

It's definitely not something one would hear on the top 40 charts. But, it does involve sex, irrational choices and night-life. So there's that.

Sketch: You’ve organized several faith-based hip hop events and concerts on the campus of Sam Houston State University - including this Wednesday night’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” freestyle show with Playdough, Heath McNease, and RedCloud.

Given that SHSU is not a Christian college, how has the response been for these type of events and how do you see them being conduits to proclaiming the Gospel?

Cody: Man, that's what is so special about being in a smaller school like Sam Houston. I've really gotten to build a relationship with the Dean of Students and in that been able to put on some pretty crazy things (some of them have gotten me in trouble).

Events like the "Whose Rhyme" show is an opportunity for all of us to communicate the Gospel in a unique way that most students probably haven't heard before. I think we're better able to meet people where they're at because of it.

In the past, it's really been powerful. Last year, we had like 500 people at one point hearing our message. That's something. I'm super blessed to be able to be part of it.

To hear more of Cody Miles' Apocrypha visit The next track will be released on Saturday, the 21st at 12pm.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DJ Primo memorial/funeral details


From Tre9:

Dear Fellow MC's and Ministry Friends,

As it is written, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:1-3)

Carlos Avila died on April 3, 2012. He was a husband of 12 years, father of two small children, U.S. Army Reserve Member, Hip Hop Missionary DJ, Friend, and Christian brother to many.

He is known amongst the Christian hip hop community as DJ Primo, and the "King of Christian Hip Hop Chopped and Screwed Music." His countless Christian hip hop mixtapes inspired two generations. His mission was to honor God through hip hop music and to serve others with the best mixes a DJ could put together.

Whether Dj'ing at an outreach, a concert or simply on his laptop creating a mixtape, he always raised the standard of excellence in the art of Dj'ing. He can't be replaced and we will miss him in Houston's hip hop community.

We are asking everyone to pray for his family and to consider helping out with financial needs if you are able to do so. His wife has become a widow unexpectedly, she has several financial expenditures to carry, and we know that God looks after widows (James 1:27, I Timothy 5:3-5, Psalm 68:5).

The following is an update on DJ Primo's donation fund, Tribute event, Viewing and Funeral Services:
  • To give directly to the family, you may deposit funds into Bank of America account #586027884671.
  • Houston's Christian hip hop tribute: Hip Hop Hope will host a tribute to DJ Primo this Tuesday April 10, from 7:30-9pm @ The Prince Complex 3000 Jensen Dr. Houston, TX 77095.

    Every Tuesday night DJ Primo would serve the youth in 5th Ward and the Greater Houston area for HHH Tuesdays. This Tuesday we will honor him and serve his family by paying tribute to his legacy and collecting funds for his family.

    Please come prepared to be a blessing in this great time of need. We will have DJ Primo shirts for sale for $15 in which all proceeds will go to help out his wife and children. We will also take up a love offering. Military members are asked to wear their uniforms for a special military tribute.
  • Viewing is this Thursday 2-8pm The Leal Funeral Chapel 2200 Wilcrest Dr. Houston, TX 77042. Phone 713-532-6939.
  • Funeral Services will be held Friday 13th at Houston National Cemetery 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive Houston, TX 77038 9am. The chapel doors close at 9:15am and they will not allow anyone else in after that time. Please come early.
On behalf of his family, friends and the entire Christian Hip Hop community, your prayers and support are appreciated. May God bless you and your loved ones, keep them close, and may Jesus be your light and help in time of need.

Bobby "Tre9" Herring

The following video is a song and slideshow that will be shown and performed at tonight's Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays event. Grab a tissue.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Masters winner Bubba Watson to host fundraising concert with Christian rappers

Bubba Watson and Christian rapper Thi'sl on a recent golf outing

These days, when a high-profile sports figure is known as much for his athletic talent as his faith it’s really no surprise that he has connections to the world of Christian rap. Hip hop is simply that mainstream.

Now it’s professional golfer Gerry “Bubba” Watson who has both rallied and raised new fans in the arena of urban music ministry. And next month he’s holding a megaconcert that includes performances by a Christian rapper from Houston.

The “Bubba’s Bash” lineup (to be held in Columbus, Ohio on May 29) includes top Christian music draws like Toby Mac and Jeremy Camp as well as artists like Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, Thi’sl, and Ronnie “Reconcile” Lillarda gospel rapper who played football for Rice University. It’s designed to be a fund raiser for the Bubba Watston Medical Clinic in Livayo, Kenya.

Bubba Watson, Lecrae, and Jordin Sparks

The event has an even higher profile now that Watson wears the green jacket as the winner of the Masters Tournament – the biggest contest in all of professional golf. And as one might expect, since it occurred on Resurrection Sunday, it launched plenty of enthusiastic support on Twitter from Christian rappers who like to flip phrases like “Bubba won the Masters on the day the Master won.”

Bubba, who has fun with his image as a member of the “Golf Boys”, has also appeared in Christian rap songs like “Michael Jackson” from Andy Mineo’s recent Formerly Known free album from Reach Records. Listen for his shoutout around the 3:50 mark in the clip below.

Other athletes with recent Christian rap connections:

Tebowin' and other Tim Tebow Christian rap songs
Linsanity's Christian rap connections

Friday, April 6, 2012

Additional benefit info for DJ Primo's family


So far, three artists/labels have offered future profits from sales of the albums that DJ Primo chopped and screwed for them to his family.

And DJ D-Lite assembled this collection of mixes Primo did for D-Lite's"3rd Coast Fiyah" radio show and will send all money derived from it to the Avila family.

A bank account has also been established for direct deposits to his wife Suhaylee and two children. That Bank of America account number is: 586027884671

Finally, this week we'll celebrate Primo's life and legacy at Hip Hop Hope Tuesday (where he was a faithful servant) at the Prince Complex at 3000 Jensen Drive.


Please contribute as you feel led.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

VIDEO: Tre9 remembers DJ Primo (#RIPDJPrimo)

Yesterday, after the shocking news broke of DJ Primo's suicide, I caught up with urban missionary and co-owner Bobby "Tre9" Herring to share our grief and fond memories of a friend.

Tre was gracious enough to let me capture his thoughts on video. Here, he shares why Carlos Avila was much more than just a chopped and screwed DJ and how he contributed to ministry to the hip hop community here in Houston.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

R.I.P. DJ Primo


It is with a sad heart that I share the news that our brother in Christ, Carlos “DJ Primo” Avila, is no longer with us. After struggling with severe depression he took his own life yesterday. This Mexican-born US Army Reserve veteran, who served the United States in tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, leaves behind a wife and two young children.


Known as the “King of Christian chopped and screwed” music, Primo championed both the popular Southern hip hop remix style and seamless video mixing. He chopped and screwed the 116 Clique’s first compilation album, hosted a mix show with Holy Culture Radio, and founded for his work and that of others.


DJ Primo was a constant fixture at almost every Christian hip hop event held in Houston and, when in the country, was the regular house DJ at the Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays weekly outreach events with Bobby “Tre9” Herring in Houston’s 5th Ward.

We’ll keep you posted on memorial details, but for now, please lift up his family – wife Suhaylee Avila, and young daughter and son.


UPDATE (4/4/12 - 12:30pm)

Want to help the Avila family? The good folks at Reach Records have agreed to donate all of the proceeds from the next month of iTunes sales of their 116 Clique compilation album (one of first ever Reach Records releases) that DJ Primo chopped and screwed for them back in 2006 before Lecrae, Tedashii, Thi'sl, Sho Baraka, and J'son were well known chart toppers.

Here's a direct link to make your purchase.

UPDATE (4/5/12 - 9:35am)

Two other artists have stepped up to offer the Avila family future profits from sales of their albums that were chopped and screwed by DJ Primo. Props to both Rawsrvnt and Knine. Links for direct purchase are posted below.


Here's a direct link to make your purchase.


Here's a direct link to make your purchase.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

INTERVIEW: Ruslan of theBREAX at SXSW 2012

Here's a quick video interview I did with Ruslan of theBREAX at SXSW shortly after our DJ and MC Skills competition.

In it, he discusses that event, the talent level of Christians in hip hop, and how to strategically market their work. As you can tell, he was excited.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

INTERVIEW: Lil Raskull talks about his new "Quotes from a G.O.A.T." book


On April 1, Houston’s Delbert “Lil Raskull” Harris released his new book Quotes from a G.O.A.T. - (Greatest of All Time) Volume 1.

I recently caught up with the veteran Christian rapper (whose We Are Legend album was one of my favorites of last year) via e-mail to discuss the tome’s content (the subtitle says: "Daily thoughts and Facebook posts), his use of the G.O.A.T. name, and his post-University of Houston plans.

Sketch: First off, why should I buy this book when I can just be your “friend” on Facebook and get my daily dose for free?

Ras: Personally, I'm a fan of print but of course I won't hold everyone to my preference. I think to have all the quotes together and accessible makes them easier to read. Also, there was a book like this called Acts of Faith that ultimately led me to salvation, so I believe Quotes from a G.O.A.T. can have that same capability.

Sketch: You titled the book Quotes from a G.O.A.T. - (Greatest of All Time) Volume 1. Isn’t that a little egotistical, especially for a Christian rapper?

Ras: Yes, but I'm one of those who complains about Christian hip hop artists not paying enough respect to the forerunners. I'm still active, so my fight isn't just for personal reasons.

Whatever the case, this lifetime has taught me something and that is people will say about you what you first tell yourself - good or bad. So yes, I am one of the greatest of all time, be it ego, truth, or both.


Sketch: You’re a Christian rap veteran. Why write a book like this and instead of one about the history of the movement or your own involvement in it?

Ras: I believe the book will reach people outside of my genre of music. In fact, in the preface I address readers who may not be fans of hip hop. I can't stand it myself sometimes. All in all, I think the book is easy read, entertaining, and educational in some aspects - pretty decent for my first rodeo.

Sketch: You’re about to graduate from the University of Houston with a political science degree. What’s next for Lil Raskull/Ras/Delbert R. Harris?

Ras: Eventually I will tackle law school, but I’ve got to get couple of the kids out of the house before I focus that intensely on studies. My son is fast tracking to an athletic scholarship and career, plus he eats a lot, so I've got to get him shipped off first. Until then, I'll be announcing more music and business ventures soon.

Sketch: Who would win a religious rap wisdom Tweet-off? You and the Facebook app on your Android or Rev Run on his Blackberry in the bathtub?

Ras: That's a good one. Of course, Rev Run would win because I would feel bad punching my father. (Laughs)

No really, he's seen a side of life I haven't quite experienced so I believe his wisdom runs a little deeper than mine. Also, all my Tweets and posts aren't exactly spiritual. But if you can arrange a Tweet-off I'll accept the challenge.

To purchase your copy of Quotes from a G.O.A.T. Volume 1 send money orders for $6.99 to:

Delbert R. Harris
4022 Bennington St.
Houston, Texas 77016

Or email Delbert.Harris[at]gmail[dot]com and describe your interest and payment arrangement.