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On The Radar: Interview with Christian Battle Rapper Street Hymns

The following piece is a part of our On The Radar series including individuals who have been placed on our radar, and we encourage you to have them on yours.

Wade-O Radio: Who is Street Hymns? Where are you from?

Street Hymns: I am an artist, speaker, and battle rapper, residing in Grand Prairie, TX, which is in the Dallas area.

Wade-O Radio: When did you get interested in music and battle rap?

Street Hymns: Because my father is an artist as well, there was never a time where a studio was not in my house. I grew up in a music background that was predominantly hip-hop in its foundation. In fact, before “Cross Movement” was “Cross Movement” and it was just Tru Life and Ambassador, I remember staying at our house and using headphones as a microphone to record their music on cassette tapes (that we still have! CLASSICS). So I grew up seeing the birth of a new generation of CHH first-hand. As far as battle rap goes, I grew up as an emcee, and a part of being a emcee involved battling! I remember my best friend JT bringing that portable DVD player full of instrumentals to challenge any willing competitors back in middle school. But through the years, “battle rap” has definitely evolved and is essentially now it’s own unique culture with a major following. In the same way people base their lives in sports, video games, or fashion… Battle rap has become its own niche where it is literally a community. So, as a believer, back in 2009 I gained an immediate love for battle rap and wondered what it would look like for a Christian to join a league.

Wade-O Radio: Who are your influences musically? Battle wise?

Street Hymns: While growing up with the influences of Cross Movement, at a young age I was drawn to Cassidy and his mixtapes because he was the first artist to do a punch-after-punch style while rapping. But as I grew older, the content became a bit repetitive. I was later introduced to Lupe around 2004 and it definitely graphed a new perspective of lyricism for me. As far as battlers go, I remember watching Mr. Biscuit battle, but I never really pulled anything significant to compliment my own style. But my favorite battlers would have to be Daylyt, Charlie Clips, and Hollow Da Don. But in the last year, while still keeping up with the culture, I saw one of Th3 Saga‘s battles and it changed my perspective on what it looked like to be a CHH battler! So he was definitely paramount in me pursing my dormant desires to join the league.

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Wade-O Radio: Do you think that Christians should be in the battle rap scene? Why?

Street Hymns: I think, we as Christians, should become all things to all men so that we can save some! Now, I don’t say this to inspire every CHH artist to join a local league… At all! Lol. But the Lord calls some to go one place, and others to go to another. I believe God called me to join battle rap in order to talk about the same things they do, just from a Christian perspective in order to build relationships and share the gospel.

Wade-O Radio: How do you prepare for a battle and how long do you usually have?

Street Hymns: Preparation is random. But must of my rounds will start with a few punchlines/schemes that I end up compiling to create a free-flowing plot.

Wade-O Radio: You addressed the body of believers in your latest battle, what prompted you to do so? Because of negative feedback?

Street Hymns: I wanted to do a lot in that battle. I wanted to address the negatives of gun bars, I wanted to remind everyone that I am coming from a familiar place and not trying to act like I am better than the next man, and I wanted to address the body. It really did hurt when I was getting negative feedback from the people I thought would support me most! Especially ones that knew me personally and knew my heart way before I decided to battle. At this point, me joining battle rap wasn’t to get a stamp of approval from the body, but was to be a light in a dark place. But because of the uniqueness of the ministry and the ignorance of knowing WHO I am and what I’m about, I can honestly see the hesitation to support my decision to go where the wild things are.

“I talk like Jesus and all the Christians love me/ I walk like Jesus now they wanna judge me, ain’t it funny?” – Andy Mineo

Wade-O Radio: About your catchphrase “See, that’s what’s Bible study’s for. So if you don’t Google it yourself, hit me on my Facebook…  we can Bible study more.” Two part question, did you think that catchphrase or closing line would catch on so well? And have people taken you up on your offer to hit you up on your Facebook to Bible study or learn more about God?

Street Hymns: The catchphrase kinda happened naturally, but after my first battle I was gonna drop it and move on. But, Th3 Saga affirmed that it was crucial to my ministry. And he was right! My reasoning behind it, was to give the crowd dope bars that they could understand, and then let my last bars be kind of an “inside” thing. By having consistency of lyricism, why would the audience expect that to change in the end? So, my goal was to make them think “man! I don’t know what it means, but I sure want to know!” But… That’s what Bible studies for. It has lead to more than just Bible studies, but it’s lead to relationships! I honestly feel like I’m apart of the DFWBL family.

New York Rapper Th3 Saga talks Battle Rap, Music & More | Wade-O Radio

Wade-O Radio: Can you breakdown your toughest lines/rhyme schemes from your latest battle?

Street Hymns: Every bar is actually quite intentionally weighty. Lol. So a rapgenius breakdown could be applied for every bar, but I’ll do a few that I think we’re most meaningful.

Round 2- Justice League Scheme

“See you can’t escape His wrath, because He’s at the judgement seat/ so tonight taste that living aqua man, cause the cup is free/ you’re lookin like a robot man, but he can free you from your puppetry/ My mom gets worried when I get in the ring, but I was given the green light… So she don’t have to wonder why I’m trying to adjust dis league/”

“See you KENT S-CAPE(Superman) His wrath, because He’s at the judgement seat/ so toKNIGHT (Batman) taste that living AQUAMAN cause the cup is free/ you’re lookin like a ROBOTMAN (Cyborg) but he can free you from your puppetry/ My mom gets worried when I get in the RING (Green Lantern) but I was given the GREEN LIGHT(Green Lantern)… So SHE don’t have to WONDER(Wonder Woman)  why I’m trying to adJUSTICE LEAGUE” battled against DC, so I did a comic book scheme.

Round 3 – DC Talk Scheme

“MY FRIEND”, “BETWEEN YOU AND ME” more “COLORED PEOPLE” need to lead the lost. Cos “WHAT HAVE WE BECOME” when “DAY BY DAY” we choose to seek the dark. You do a lot of this… But “IN THE LIGHT” you can see DC walk/ so when you say you make that “MAC SING” “SO HELP ME GOD” I don’t believe what “DC TALK”/ now if you’re a “JESUS FREAK” you’ll call those “punches” my “greatest hits.”

Toby MAC is the lead SINGER in DC TALK, and I named a majority of his greatest hits.


Round 3 – Harry Potter Scheme

It’s no wonder, why these kids are scarred, because they never hear I love you/ Parents curse and sip patron it’s like they think that stops the struggle/ snakes are slitherin, with no apologies there’s double trouble/ when kids can quote Bobby Shmurda but can spell like a muggle/

It’s no WANDer, why these KIDS ARE SCARRED (Harry Potter was scarred by the Dark Lord as a child) because they never hear I love you/ parents CURSE (curses are used by wizards and witches) and sip PATRONUS (patronus is a charm spell that gives defense) like they think that stops the struggle/ SNAKES are SLYTHERIN (slytherin is one of four houses in the Hogwarts school. Their mascot is a snake) with no a POLYJUICE (a potion that allows the user to change their appearance) there’s DOUBLE TROUBLE (a song sung by the choir in Harry Potter)/ when kids can quote Bobby Shmurda, but can’t SPELL like a MUGGLE (a muggle/human is someone who has no magical blood making them incapable of performing any spells)

Wade-O Radio: Even though you have three battles under your belt, do you see yourself eventually entering a tournament battle league like URL?

Street Hymns: I have another DFWBL Battle coming up in March. But what started out as an idea to be a light in a small league has definitely sparked interests in going to the URL for sure, if the opportunity presented itself.

Wade-O Radio: Any encouragement, warnings, tips for other Christians thinking of probably doing battle rap?

Street Hymns: Tough question… Because the last thing I needed was someone telling me, “no don’t do it because it’ll be ineffective” or “they’re not gonna like you” or “you’re not good enough.” But I KNOW God called me to it. I have had people tell me they want to, but honestly if you’re doing so for views, exposure, or competition as the first thought… That is where I would HIGHLY discourage any believer to do so. But if anyone is curious, I would talk to other lyricists and test things out (minus an actual opponent).

Wade-O Radio: Where can people follow you and find your music?

Street Hymns: I released a collaborative project with an artist named KiShon Furlow (who debuts in the DFWBL on February 15th) and that project is available on all musical outlets (iTunes | Amazon | Google Play). All my social media outlets are @streethymns (Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | YouTube).

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Jacob Titus is the breaking news editor for WadeORadio.com and the director of The Beacon, a community center on the west side of South Bend, IN. Follow him on Twitter @_titusj.

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