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More quotes from the Twin Cities Christian rap scene

Rapper K-Jay

Rapper K-Jay

More words from XROSS:

On the current state of Christian hip-hop in the Twin Cities:

“The quality level is tremendous compared to previous years, from the standpoint of rappers really studying their Bible and understanding what the word of God says. I also think that the quality of music is awesome because now Christian hip-hop really competes and actually supersedes mainstream hip-hop, from a sonic standpoint. People are more open to the genre of music, and that's a great thing as well.”

On influences in mainstream hip-hop:

“I've been around hip-hop all my life—grew up as a hip-hop head. As a pioneer, secular artists were the only reference I had. It dates all the way back to people like LL Cool J, and all the way up to Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar, as far as sonically—how their music sounds.”

On seeing his son K-Jay follow in his footsteps:

“It's heartwarming and gratifying to see what K-Jay does. He's a smart young man; he has a good work ethic and a great heart, and he wants to be a positive voice for this next generation and I think with God's help he certainly can do that. I raised him as a single father for many years, until I got married, so he and I have a special bond with each other.”

On future hopes for the local Christian hip-hop scene:

“One of my dreams is that I want to start a hip-hop church that's focused toward youth in the inner city. I want to attract young people, and I want it to be an unorthodox church; not a typical church. I would prefer to maybe even have it on a Saturday night, maybe in the heart of the city, and have it set up where it almost actually looks like a nightclub. I want to develop a church like that because I feel like there's a lot of people out there who love God, but for some reason have either been hurt by the traditional church or people like me who are out in the strip club, but still want to know who God is.”

More words from King David:

On his first experiences rapping:

“I grew up on hip-hop, and I used to just get high with some of my guys and freestyle. I was too busy selling dope, smoking weed and kickin' it, and I was a shooter, so I'd be dressed in black with a pistol. But when the guys would get together, we'd just mess around and freestyle, and I killed it every time. They used to call me 'CD,' because I just flow and don't stop.”

On how he hopes to connect to the younger generation:

“You can't talk about something that you haven't done. The energy and the evidence is in what you put out and how you say it. You can't fake that. To each his own; everybody has a different style and a different area that they minister to, but I'm from the streets. I was out here in the alleys at three in the morning with a heat. I mean, I'm talking about rooftops. We used to be on rooftops with choppers. Ski masks and stuff, man. I'm from that.”

On the change he experienced after being incarcerated:

“I began to have that hope again that I could do something productive and positive, and I just continued to write, and build myself and work on myself and work on my belief system— because when I was first in the church there was a lot I missed, because I'm a hyper type of dude. I just grab stuff and run, and I don't really listen and connect all the dots, and I still had some negative core beliefs inside of me that caused me to commit the crime that I did. I worked on myself, did some treatment and behavior modification things that taught me a lot about myself that I didn't know. I was able to get polished up; I worked on my craft more, and my writing and delivery. My writing elevated, and you can tell.”

More words from Dezal da Messenger:

On making the first move toward becoming a Christian hip-hop artist:

“I realized that change is the beginning of a new world and existence, period. I just started trying to put positive messages within songs, but still keep them relevant. I wanted to uplift and encourage people.”

On the reactions he received while transitioning to Christian hip-hop:

“It wasn't that bad, because I never went all the way dark-side. I've always kind of been a good guy in general, but I've made some party music that wasn't clean, you know? I don't think it was too far from where I was to begin with, but a lot of people saw the difference in me for sure. They noticed that I went from staying in the club until closing time to leaving right after we got off stage. They started to notice a withdrawal from that lifestyle. After a while I started performing some of the songs that I'd been writing in the club, and it was interesting because for about a period of a year, people didn't even realize that I was transitioning because my message wasn't forcing Jesus on anybody. It was just everyday life music, it wasn't really a Christian song. They accepted it and saw me as a positive guy.”

On one of his last nightclub performance experiences:

“I remember one time I was in the club performing and after I got off the stage the lights in the entire club went out. I remember this one guy looking at me, and he said, 'Man, you don't belong here.' And when he said that to me, it was just like...yeah. I understand. I couldn't blend in anymore; it was like I was sticking out like a sore thumb, and he clearly saw something about me that was different. I think that probably was one of the last few shows that I did at a club.”

On the fragility of life and the importance of creating your own belief system:

“I had a guy listen to my song “Everyone Can Change,” and he said, 'Man, I've been listening to this song every day. For some reason when I hear that song it makes me really want to change my life.' And rest his soul in peace, because probably two weeks later he died. He ended up getting killed out in St. Paul; he got shot. I remember the last conversation that we had. I said, 'Listen. The thing that's pulling you towards change is God. If this is the last thing that you do,' and it's crazy, because this is the last conversation that I had with him, and then I left town...I said, 'If this is the last thing you do, I need you to find out who God is. I'm not going to tell you. I could push my beliefs on you, and I could tell you all these different things about what I've experienced, but I want you to know Him for yourself so that thing that's making you want to change...that thing is God, and he wants your attention.' I'm telling him this, and not knowing that this probably was the most critical thing I could have told him. I said, 'Find out who God is for yourself.' Another thing I told him was, 'When you leave this Earth, be sure to leave a legacy for your children, because the way that they see Daddy is the way that they want to be.' He looked at me with this look of like, wow. We had a real nice conversation after that. When that happened, it really made me realize that the music is just the bait on the hook. The actual hook is God.”

More words from K-Jay:

On the message in his most recent music:

“You get caught up in the limelight and a materialistic image, but then later on it shows you that it's not all what it's cracked up to be— you know, money, cars, clothes, having the baddest woman. The glorification is not necessarily good. I want to show that there's an alternative.”

On the Christian hip-hop scene locally and nationally:

“There is a major scene in the Twin Cities. If I'm not mistaken, there's at least 50 other artists out there that are doing the same thing that I'm doing— whether it's through poetry, or singing, dance, what have you. The scene here is huge, and not only here but across the states the Christian hip-hop scene is slowly but surely progressing.”

On providing an alternative for mainstream hip-hop:

“People are hungry for the truth. People are hungry for the message, for something that's going to hit the soul and stick with you. With the music that I'm creating, and the music that my camp is creating, I can't express it enough— it's literally the alternative. You don't want to hear that garbage right now, and you feel a little sick to your stomach after you play that track...Well, here's something that you can bang to, and you can blast just as loud, and it's going to hit just as hard, and you're going to feel a message. The main thing that I get from people when they hear my music is 'I didn't know it was Christian hip-hop,' or 'I didn't know that you were talking about God until I actually started listening to it.' It's the exact same thing on the other side. They're very clever and subliminal with the content that they're saying. I think that as Christian believers, you gotta be bold and you gotta stand for what's right, because it's not going to be in vain.”