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 http://codymiles.bandcamp.com. The next track will be released on Saturday, the 21st at 12pm.