In 2007, I came to a crossroad. I had just returned home to Philadelphia from living in LA a year earlier to be apart of a street ministry initiative called “Salt World” a ministry that rapper Shai Linne had been apart of years earlier. In the summer of 2006 we would partner with inner city churches to bring a Gospel presentation to a street corner in their community. We’d locate the corners with the most drug activity and show up in a winnebago to perform, preach and pray with the people. That was a vibrant time in my life of ministry, but shortly after it ended the weight of financial strain began to overtake me. Tired of being broke I took my eyes off of ministry and put all my energy into getting paid. I got three jobs and began to exhaust myself with work. I stopped attending church, then my prayer life began to ease up. Around that time I started to take a completely secular approach to music and began to work with artists/producers like Karriem Riggins(one of JDilla’s best friends), Hezekiah(at the time signed to Rawkus) and Black Ice which lead to me being featured on Jazzy Jeff’s ROTM album. Around that time I got a call from a manager (who thought I was still in LA) asking me to meet him at a studio in Beverly Hills to talk about a situation. I couldn’t go because I was in Philly but that call made me more enthusiastic about my career choice. Months later I found myself in New York City with Black Ice sitting in an office with Talib Kweli & Dave Chappelle’s manager being offered a demo deal. At that time I was going back and forth to NY often and began stacking my money to eventually move there, but then God stepped in to turn my attention back to Him. I received a phone call from my ex-fiancé Tandeace, we hadn’t spoke in almost two years and to my surprise she had been recently fasting and praying on my behalf. I told her about the recent events and the opportunities on the table and her response was “that’s nice, but it sounds like you’re in love with the music more than you are with God now” that statement made me angry. I told her I loved God more than anything and proceeded to hang up on her. I wrestled with God all through the night and the next morning I called her back and told her she was right. I had reached the point where my aspirations were no longer based upon God’s will for my life but rather my own. I was back to serving the idol of my youth, rap music. Soon after, I severed a few relationships, passed on the opportunities and married my ex-fiancé. There was no ceremony, we married at city hall in Philly then five months later we moved to Jacksonville, FL to start our family. Before I left philly I dropped a mixtape & my first official music video with my friend Dj Street Orchestra. The song was called “You’ve been sleeping” and it started a buzz in the city after I left, it was even played on New York’s “Hot 97″ radio station. It was exciting, but I was to far from the Tri-State area to enjoy the success. I remember sitting in the guard shack and getting a phone call from an A+R at Atlantic records wanting to drive to Philly to talk to me about possibly getting a deal, but leaving him frustrated after finding out I had just moved. It felt like every time I got close to a deal with a label God blocked it.
In Florida we joined a good bible teaching church and I began to grow in my faith. I started being taught and understanding what a man of God was and how he behaves. He is someone who fears and obeys God, a responsible man who works to provide for and serve his family and others. I was finally getting it, discipleship, being taught and instructed by older men who have been walking with God for years. Growing up in the projects in Philly, adult black men who loved Jesus is something I don’t think I ever saw.
During my early days in Florida I put music on pause because my macbook was broken…so for close to eight months I was studying God’s word, praying & serving my family. I went from being a semi well known rapper in Philadelphia to a shaved face security supervisor for Fed Ex. By the Lords grace I was able to get my laptop fixed and I began recording again. Something was a lot different about my writing now, I started praying as I wrote, asking God for the lines and the music began to have more of an impact. Without much effort on my end doors began to open. I remember logging onto a Christian Rap site and seeing an old video of mine featured and I hadn’t even submitted the video to the site. Next I was being invited to Miami to perform alongside a rapper named Thi’sl and a few others. I realized that the more I pursued Christ the more My career advanced. Growing in him means growth in every other aspect of my life. I went on to release a mixtape called “The fire escape” which I had no budget and no microphone for. I recorded it in my car using the mic on the surface of my 05′ MacBook. A year later a friend from Philly gave me a professional microphone. When that happened I teamed up with my friend Dj Street Orchestra and released my first Ep entitled “Blood Bought”. It had a better sound than the mixtape but still lacked in quality. I was debating on whether I should release it or not, and while spending some time with the Father I believe I heard Him say “release it as is and I’ll do something with it”. That project reached and encouraged thousands of people all over, in fact when I arrived in The UK a few years ago they were playing my single from that album “A note for the hopeless” on one of their mainstream radio stations. I am still blown away by what God did through that Ep, bad mix quality and all. In 2012 I received many messages from fans asking me to finally release a full length album. I added up the cost and time then realized for me that was impossible. All my time and money was spent taking care of my wife and children. I didn’t have anything extra to pay for an album. So I decided to do an “IndieGOGO” campaign and give the fans the opportunity to donate to the cause of me releasing my first album. Over one hundred gracious supporters made contributions totaling to about 7k. I was floored by the support and excited to begin, so I paid all my bills for a couple months then began to devote all my time to writing and recording my first album. A few producers I knew donated the beats and my friend Chris donated the mixing and mastering services. With very little promo the album actually hit the Billboard’s top 50 charts when it dropped, but unfortunately fell to the 51 position before I was able to return Billboards email so it never posted. However, i was still in awe at how the Lord was advancing and growing my career organically. Next, my wife and I felt we were being lead to move our family to Texas so we did. It was there where I met the Humble Beast team. While they were passing through on a tour, Braille invited me to a show and the next day we all met for coffee. Weeks later they invited me to Portland to hang out and record a feature. I knew our styles and approach to music was worlds apart so at no point did I ever entertain the idea of them wanting to sign me, but to my surprise…they did.
Grateful for the opportunity I returned home prayerful and ready to consult with my wife. I was excited at the idea of finally having help with my career and all the exciting things HB said was in store, but my wise and insightful wife was more concerned about me deviating from God’s plan. Her and I had already talked about me working on new music with the little I had and continuing my career in faith. I had just turned down a well known label a couple months prior for that reason, but this offer felt different.
To be honest I was caught up in the moment and ready to forcibly take my career to a new level, so without my wife’s support I signed anyway. And if I regret anything it’s that, I should have never made such a life altering decision without the support and consign of my bride. The HB team is a group of God fearing men answering God’s call to ministry. Fortunately, so am I and my allegiance is to Christ first. It was Him graciously reminding me of my original call that lead me to resign from Humble Beast in May of 2015. I was blessed to serve in any capacity with those guys and will always support their efforts to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. We were privileged to create an amazing album that over 40,000 people are enjoying to this day. My style and approach to music and ministry is unique in nature and requires faith in the unseen promises of God. I can no longer make decisions based on the way things look and appear. The next step for me in music will be intentional, I can’t reveal too much right now, but I can assure you it will be pure and well planned.
I just released the music video for “Certified Gold” to symbolically turn the page on that chapter of my life and begin a fresh one. I wanna say thank you to everyone for your prayers and encouragement…i see yall…salute! #SalvationArmie (No Edit…Just my thoughts).