When Armond Goss got a D on his report card in middle school, he cried for two days.
“I didn’t even get in trouble,” Armond told Wade-O Radio. “I wasn’t concerned that I got a D, but I thought I let my mother down.”
From an early age, Armond coveted affirmation. He tried to earn A’s for his mother and dominate sports for his father. But when Armond earned praise, the feeling didn’t satisfy like he imagined it would.
That’s why he started rapping. It attracted more attention than school and sports ever had. After all, in a predominately-white, suburban high school, Armond stuck out.
“I’m tall. I’m black. I’m angry. And I rapped,” he said. “And I rapped well.”
Armond started writing poetry at the age of seven, but stopped as a 12-year-old to focus on basketball. When he realized as a sophomore that his play didn’t have him on pace to make the NBA, he returned to rhyming. And the attention poured in.
While the newfound flood of affirmation didn’t make Armond any less angry between concert performances, he learned how to use the popularity to manipulate people for his benefit.
“I would write girls rap songs,” he said. “And that would get me anything I wanted.”
This ability went to Armond’s head. His combination of cockiness and talent as a hip-hop artist made him a natural at battle rapping. Each weekend, Armond’s gang-affiliated friends would drive with him from party to party and challenge rivals to battle him.
The aspiring hip-hop artist put his pursuit on hold, though, after a battle with his parents. They kicked him out of their home, forcing him to join the military. His life soon began to spiral out of control.
During basic training for the Air Force, his parents separated. Two months later, a close friend died. Three months later, after being shipped to Japan, his girlfriend called to tell him she was pregnant with his daughter.
Armond reached his breaking point when, two more months later, he awoke to his eye swollen shut. An infection behind his eye socket stranded him in the hospital for two weeks. He lost approximately 30 of the 40 pounds he had gained in the military.
The infection was so severe it required two surgeries and for doctors to quarantine his room. As Armond lay in bed with an agonizing headache from his infection and watching two-week old cable television, he cried out for help.
“God, if you get me out of this, I promise I’ll heed your call,” said Armond.
A year earlier, his sister had become a Christian. She shared the gospel with him, but he repeatedly declined. On what felt like his death bed, though, he reconsidered.
Two days after his prayer, he felt healthy again. Armond quickly called his sister.
“I’m tired of this,” he told her. “What do I have to do?”
Armond prayed to God a second time, this round to surrender his life to Jesus Christ.
But all of Armond’s problems didn’t instantaneously vanish. When he returned to America, he struggled to return to hip hop. Having always rapped about money, sex and drugs, he spent the next three years—some in depression—trying to figure out if it glorified God.
When Armond realized hip hop could, he churned out music. Between February 2010 and December 2011, he released projects titled The Nina Mosely Experience, Dreaming Out Loud, Snooze Button II, The Havilland Savage Theory, Ketchup: The Best of Armond, Condiments EP #1, Twenty Seven and Three Day Weekend. He pulled this off despite being only a part-time artist.
For five straight months in 2011, his typical day involved waking up 6 a.m., working for a bank until 5 p.m., working retail until 10:30 p.m. and either performing at a club, writing or recording until 2 a.m.
Armond returned to rap because he realized he could minister through it. But ministry isn’t what fueled him to keep going on three hours of sleep. After attention again poured in, he succumb to the affirmation pursuits of his past.
“After a while, it wasn’t about ministry anymore,” said Armond. “It was about visibility … I wanted to be the best rapper in my city. I wanted to be the illest rapper in Christian hip hop. I wanted all the coverage on Rapzilla and DaSouth. And I wanted everybody to be talking about my projects.”
Visibility became prioritized over more than his ministry. Armond talked less often to his two children who live out of state. He attended church less often to catch up on sleep.
As Armond geared up in December 2011 to release another project, the leaders of his church, The Way Columbus, advised that it might be wise to slow down. He took their advice, but it still frustrated Armond.
“I’m doing all this work for you,” Armond told God. “How are you telling me to sit down?”
Armond stopped writing for six months. However, the discipleship classes he attended at his church then reaped not only spiritual, but lyrical reward. They inspired his first major album, Kairos, defined by Armond as “a moment in time that presents an opportunity for change.”
Before he finished Kairos, though, he nearly ruined his life. Living with a Kairos mindset, using a renewed focus to respond to opportunities that present change, creates self-awareness of one’s own decision making ability.
Armond didn’t like what Kairos made him aware of about himself. He called himself a walking contradiction, stemming from his flaws as a father.
His downward spiral started when his daughter—who calls Colorado home, but stays with Armond during the summer—left in during the fall of 2012. The first Saturday after her departure, he awoke to the sound of “SpongeBob SquarePants” playing on his television, a show they watched together on Saturday mornings.
But his brain tricked him. While his daughter went back to school, this fact somehow escaped Armond’s mind as he scrambled around his house frantically looking for her from room to room, in suitcases and under beds. So shocked she was gone, he had a panic attack, forcing him to take a week off of work.
The aftermath of his anxiety marked vulnerability and a heightened need for affirmation. He didn’t like what he saw in the mirror, of himself or the life he had established. And instead of changing, he dwelled on it.
“I was kind of like a suicide bomber in a lot of my relationships,” said Armond. “Things that the Lord wanted to do with me, I would just destroy them … When things started to get good whether it be a relationship or an opportunity, I would just strap dynamite to my chest, run in the building and pull the string.”
Only during the Kairos writing process when Armond comprehended, despite his flaws, how valuable he is as a child of God did he snap out of it. And God used Armond’s shortcomings, and longing to repair them, with his daughter and son who both live out of state to wake him up.
“Everything was compartmentalized in my life,” said Armond. “One moment I’d be a rapper. Then I’d be a dad, not realizing that those things fit together … The Lord used that little girl and boy to show me so much about him. I learned how God looks at us as his children the way that I look at my children.”
On Monday, Armond released yet another project, Snooze Button III. This time, though, the heart behind it doesn’t crave attention, but for it to impact listeners like Kairos impacted him.