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Redeemed Rap Group CTZN Aims to Impact Chicago

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Gang member Eddie “Caine” Everette exhaled marijuana smoke in rapper Kareem Manuel’s face on Everette’s front porch in Humboldt Park, Chicago as Manuel told him that Jesus loved him.

“Get out of here with that,” said Caine. “I want nothing to do with that god. That god is whack.”

Born to a father who worked as a pastor by day and abused his wife by night, Caine’s representation of a godly man fathered his hate for the god of Christianity. At the age of two, his parents divorced and eventually 13-year-old Caine and his mother moved from Norfolk, Va. to East Lansing, Mich.

Strolling home from the store one afternoon, Caine noticed a church construction site. He lit the church on fire.

An off-duty police officer walking her Rottweiler down the street saw him igniting the gasoline and chased Caine, but couldn’t keep up. She still caught him by following a trail of debris back to his home. Thanks to falsified police reports, he only received six months of probation, dodging hate crime, arson preparation and terrorism charges.

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Gangster Disciples gang sign drawn on picnic table. Photo courtesy of Ed Kolher via Flickr.

On his 16th birthday, the day that Caine’s probation had ended, he and his mother moved to the Windy City to be closer to his sister. His mother began to date a member of the Gangster Disciples—a gang originally formed in South Side, Chicago—who later became Caine’s stepfather.

With his hard-working mother not around to keep him out of trouble, Caine picked up the family trade. He shot, stole and became entrenched in drug dealing. His lifestyle, which also included fornication, didn’t stop him from landing a job at a Rezin Orr High School in West Humboldt Park teaching abstinence.

The program director who he worked under, Jan Collins—a professing Christian—overheard from her students that Caine dealt drugs. After Collins learned that he rapped, she called Manuel—a Christian hip-hop artist who had previously held Caine’s role—and suggested that he meet Caine.

Manuel visited Caine’s house on numerous occasions. Those visits involved Manuel attempting to share the gospel, but Caine’s mental state prevented noticeable success. Not only did he still hate God, he was frequently high.

“[Caine] was high out his brain,” Manuel told Wade-O Radio. “I talk to high people all the time. He was abnormally high.”

Collins shared the same memory of Caine.

“I don’t know whether I ever saw him not high or drunk the first year that I knew him,” she said.

Caine even welcomed students to skip school and smoke marijuana at his house, as long as they finished their homework.

The birth of Caine’s daughter made him reevaluate his lifestyle. He applied for a job at Starbucks and they hired him. Manuel and Jan continued to build a relationship with Caine and eventually asked him to help land Manuel’s friend T.J. “Decipha” Morrissette a job there.

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David Daniels is a Wade-O Radio news editor, Bleacher Report breaking news writer, The Geneva Cabinet campus editor and God Hop founder. He’s currently a Communication major at Geneva College and lives in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealDDaniels.

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