By now many have either heard the somewhat ‘controversial’ single ‘Jim Crow’ or have purchased Sho Baraka’s third solo project, Talented Xth. This is Sho’s first project not under the Reach Records label, as he focuses more on making good music than trying to ‘appease the christian music market.’
I had the opportunity to talk with Sho when he came down to Florida as a guest feature during an album release party. We were able to talk about his latest project, addressing social issues, upcoming endeavors and more.
Why the name Talented Xth?
Within the last year or so, I had a meeting with a professor, a theologian and a African American gentleman who challenged me and kind of saw how I wrote. He challenged me to stop reading, this may sound crazy but, he challenged me to stop reading so much christian stuff and said you need to read more sociology, if you are really trying to connect with the pain of people and the struggle of people.
A lot of these christian writings don’t really do that. I’ve always loved W.E.B. Du Bios and Frederick Douglass, and I started reading books about them and the struggle of slavery, post-slavery and the African American plight. Then I stumbled upon Du Bois’ Talented 10th, the book he wrote, and it spoke exactly to where I am. Where you have a group of people who are struggling, who are in pain, whether it be economic, physical or spiritual, but you have people around who have answers, resources, gifts, talents who can help those individuals.
And so the whole concept of the album is, based off the book, is kind of like people who have time, talent and treasure using those gifts to the benefit of other folks. Not just teaching men to be carpenters, but teaching carpenters to be men.
What should we expect from the project?
A lot of good music. A lot of mature stuff. It’s definitely not going to be the typical christian hip hop sound, nor the typical christian hip hop content. It’s going to be some tough songs on there, in the sense of like language that people don’t normally hear on a christian hip hop album. Songs like the infamous Jim Crow track. Songs about extended adolescence in hip hop. Songs about marriage. Songs about money and the greed that is in Corporate America.
A lot of rap artists just like to call out black culture, and a lot of rap artists like to just call out hip hop and they never call out the people who manipulate hip hop and black culture to make money. So, my challenge is calling out all ignorance, all evil, and not just the people that are easy to call out, like the rappers. It’s a different album. I’m not shying away from the things I feel like God is calling me to talk about. But I also recognize that God has given me a spirit and wisdom on how I communicate things, so I’m trying to be wise.
Would you consider yourself a social or conscious rapper?
I would. I would consider myself conscious. I would consider myself social. I would consider myself gospel. I would consider myself gangster. Everything. All of the above. There are some songs that are very conscious, very social, that you can probably put on the radio and people say ‘he’s not really a christian artist. He’s just talking about social issues.’ But the reality is I’m just talking about them from a christian perspective.
What can we expect from Hello Revolution?
Hello Revolution produced almost all of the tracks. The three people who are a part of Hello Revolution are the three people who produced the most tracks on the album, along with Swoope and J.R. Quiet as it’s kept, I’m trying to do a live album with the whole Talented Xth. I’m trying to do a live version of it with Hello Revolution. We also have some songs that didn’t make the album.
Your time has been busy and has been occupied with doing mission trips, how has that been?
Not just missions. I’m not the type to go on a million mission trips, but my heart is for missions. I guess what takes up my time ultimately, in the past I’ve been a poor church member because of music, and I’ve used hip hop as a means to kind of give me an excuse to be that lone missionary, without being connected to a church. So what I’ve been intentional about lately is trying to not use music as my ministry to get away from accountability and relationships with people who really know me and spend time with me. I have a missional community that I lead in my neighborhood, to do stuff to reach our neighbors. It’s been really encouraging. I feel like it’s not fair to call it mission trips, because I don’t see it as grueling. I enjoy going to experience other cultures and try to build relationships with brothers and sisters who love the Lord and reach non believers, because I just find that’s something I like doing.
Is there anything else we should expect this year?
We are working on a curriculum that goes along with the whole concept of Talented Xth, and more information will be out on that soon. Then there is a video series that I’m trying to do. And then there are video shorts that I’m going to be putting out along with the Talented Xth album promo.
To learn more about Sho Baraka and his latest project visit: http://www.lionsandliars.com/