Pastor Steve Martin of Heritage Reformed Baptist Church in Atlanta wrote Alex Faith a letter expressing his concern for the 18-year-old’s spiritual walk after seeing Faith habitually show up late to Sunday morning worship and sleep through his sermons.
What Martin didn’t know when he delivered the letter: Faith dozed off because he habitually smoked, slept with a girl and drank on Saturday night.
“It broke me when I read the letter because the dude didn’t know any of the stuff that I was doing, but the letter was so poignant to the things that I was doing,” said Faith who responded thinking, “Alright, this is God coming and telling me, ‘Hey man, I’m still here and you still need me.’”
Martin had sat Faith down before handing him the letter to express his disappointment in Faith’s discipline. Although no blunders other than mid-sermon naps and nominal church membership were visible, the pastor possessed an inkling that Faith had fallen into temptation. He was right.
Faith—who had previously displayed a passion to grow in his relationship with God—found himself, as a newborn Christian now living on his own, succumbing to the negative influence of his friends. Hip hop culture played a significant role in influencing him and his circle.
“[Hip hop] was everything,” Faith told Wade-O Radio. “It told us how to talk. It told us how to dress. It told us what to like. It told us how to treat women, authority. The influence is astounding. I want to say that my parents’ influence was greater than that, but I don’t think it was.”
Hip hop held influence to this extent over Faith because his entire identity came from it. Southern artists sounded like him, dressed like him and rapped about the places he grew up, so much so that Faith would be riding on the exact street being name dropped in the song playing on the radio.
Unfortunately for Faith, hip hop influenced him and his friends far more negatively than positively.
“There’s not a whole lot of hopeful music coming from the south,” said Faith. “Everything is either turn up, turn up, turn up, get drunk, get wasted, get high, go crazy, smash chicks and sell drugs, smoke weed and pop mollies or I’m selling drugs, killing people, shooting people, I’m a gangster or its life sucks, but it’s going to be OK. That’s the extent of the hope that exists in hip-hop music.”
Accountability and a newfound motivation helped Faith overcome the influence and turn his life around. With ATLast, his debut solo album that Collision Records released on Nov. 5, the artist wanted to create the southern hip hop that captivated him, but in a positive manner.
“Let me mix something that people are going to love the way it sounds,” said Faith, “and let me have a message of life in it as opposed to not necessarily a message of death, but things that lead to death which are good as death itself.”
Faith wants ATLast to be a message of life, just like that letter handed to him only several years ago.