Sivion hopes that Group Therapy—his fourth studio album which will drop on Oct. 15—will help heal souls, but he wouldn’t complain if it cured some hip-hop artists of their transparency issues as well.
The concept of the project stems from what rappers rarely mention on the mic, their nine-to-five. Sivion works in the healthcare staffing industry with physical and occupational therapists that use group therapy. When guest collaborations on his record began to pile up, he adopted the phrase.
Sivion told his listeners on the hook of “To the Rescue,” track No. 11 of Group Therapy, “We here for you, we came to rescue you.”
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Who his band of artists came to therapeutically rescue are non-Christians.
“Christians, we have sense of belonging and that, regardless of what our circumstances are, we’re going to see it through to the end because of who’s providing the provisions for our lives,” Sivion told Wade-O Radio. “A lot of people out there, arguably most of world, don’t have that sense of security.”
Sivion said that in “To the Rescue” he talked about him and God running the streets saving people, a concept which coincides with the cover of Group Therapy, created by Ghetto Manga’s Samax. On it, Sivion is followed by an army of superheroes, who also happen to be caricatures of many of the artists on the album.
Sivion’s fellow Deepspace5 emcees joined him on the cover. Sintax the Terrific has wings, Freddie Bruno is the largest superhero, Manchild is pointing and Playdough is dressed in a hotdog outfit. He also enlisted two Tunnel Rats—Propaganda has dreadlocks and Zane is the woman flying.
The LA Symphony’s Sareem Poems is in all black wearing glasses. Wushu, Sivion’s former Phat K.A.T.S. partner, is meditating while levitating. Heather James, who sang on track No. 12, “One Two,” is in yellow. And Eimi Hall, who sang on track No. 8, “Let’s Grow,” is in purple.
Sivion, however, isn’t sporting a uniform.
“All these superheroes are trying to figure out what it is about this guy that makes him have superpowers when he’s not a superhero,” said Sivion.
His source of power, Sivion explained, is the Holy Spirit. The principal of the album cover is that God is greater than anything.
The concept may surprise the greatest critics of him and Deepspace5 who are often identified with positive hip hop before Christian rap. Sivion stressed that while their content and target audience differs from stereotypical Christian hip-hop artists, their hearts are the same.
“I know my brothers in Deepspace5 are all Christians,” said Sivion. “We all always pray before we write. We did Bible studies every morning before we got in the booth.”
Sivion added that Christian artists are needed in every scene. He claimed that he’s a fan of rappers like Lecrae, Andy Mineo and Tedashii, but an audience that prefers an underground sound as opposed to mainstream would never listen to their music—just as mainstream fans wouldn’t respond to Sivion.
“God created people in all these different ways with different gifts, talents, purposes and visions in order to work together as part of the body of Christ and fulfill their specific duties for the advancement of the kingdom,” said Sivion.
He believes that artists should be wherever they are called. But, like he suggested on “Real Talk,” track No. 2 of Group Therapy, he believes that some rappers aren’t.
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“There are a lot of people in hip hop today that actually, in my humble opinion—this is just my opinion because somebody else obviously thinks they’re dope—there’s people that I don’t think have talent or I don’t think this is for them,” said Sivion. “When I listen to their music, I don’t connect, I don’t hear a passion in it, I don’t hear anything other than it sounds like somebody said, ‘Hey, this would be a good way to make money.’”
Sivion admitted that he must be careful with such allegations because all artists start somewhere talent wise. Using himself as an example, Sivion confessed that years ago in his Phat K.A.T.S. days he considered himself “untouchable,” but since maturing, realizes that overconfidence plagued him. He now has the transparency to expose his faults, an act of humility that he claimed many hip-hop artists struggle with.
Sivion sees a façade, particularly in mainstream rap, centered on a necessity for artists to act hard and have swagger. He believes Christians also fall into this trap, some even overemphasizing their street past to gain credibility in hip-hop culture. Sivion asserted that if one breaks even the hardest rappers down emotionally, though, they’re just screaming inside for someone to release them of the bondage that they have to act a certain way to get respect.
All that Sivion asks for is transparency.
“One of the greatest tools that anybody can use to help somebody grow or see that they can live their life a different way is transparency,” said Sivion. “Don’t hide your flaws. Don’t act like you’re something that you’re not. People are touched by that.”