yshwa4life was born in NY but spent his teenage years growing up in the eighties on the westcoast. His stepfather, (who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic) moved him and his Mother out there when he was 10.
He played guitar in various thrash metal bands and was heavy into "that crazy life". Having been a drug addict, a constant runaway, in and out of institutions, kicked out of every school he attended and prone to violent behavior, with no true role model to emulate he was lost and on his way to hell in a handbasket. He was also a fan of rap and hip hop, artists like EZ-E (Eric Wright), NWA, Digital Underground, 2 Live Crew, Whodini, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam and many others. San Hose, California was the Capital scene at that time.
His mother eventually left the relationship which, although they were free "in a sense", only created a larger vacuum in his heart and things got much worse, until he was finally introduced to Jesus by the "preacher guy" next door at the age of eighteen. Shortly thereafter he moved back to NY to find his roots.
He tossed all his music in the garbage (an extensive collection) but it wasn't until he started digging into the bible in his mid twenties that any real and lasting changed happened. He quotes, "Once me and the wife started havin' kids, i needed real answers, 'fast'...and the Word o' God had 'em. He'd been waitin on me the whole time. Once i took it serious and started readin' it on a regular i couldn't put it down, when i got to the book of Romans i was hooked..now it's the center of my universe."
He began to scour the internet for artists that were "creating excellence" to compel the lost to take the truthclaims of God seriously but only found a handful that were actually making a difference.
His Mother eventually remarried years after the divorce, moved back east and became a Pastors wife. However, tragically they were killed in a horrible automobile accident. The creativity that had been lying dormant for so long began to take on a whole new light during the healing process. "i just sorta' disappeared inside myself." "Moms always wanted me to do somethin with my love for music and wordplay for the Lord, i just never did ya know? That's about to change (by His grace)!"
He recently moved to the Nashville, TN area with his wife of 20 years and their three children. "i sensed the Lord leading us south as i felt that i could be more effective for Him there..that's turning out to be true." There are a ton of artists that are stepping up to the plate with a real love for Gods Word and for our kids." It's my aim to connect the ones God sends my way with communities that need their services and to convince as many people as i can of the fact that God is on the move within this genre." "Gods providence and sovereignty are absolutely amazing."
The mission statement on his website is as follows:
i'm a Christian alternative hip hop artist, emcee and promoter from upstate NY.
My main burden is the restoration of the family, (since it's the foundational building block of civilization) but in order for that to happen we need to be lifting up the supremacy of Christ and His word. i do it through the medium of music, as i believe it to be one of the fastest way to reach our present post-modern culture..with the truth claims of God...and by extension, take back our communities and neighborhoods for the His glory.
Christian rap/hip hop has been under attack since it's inception due to various reasons. Bigotry, ignorance, creative subjectivity, division within it's own ranks, fear from those on the outside (and a whole lot of mediocrity) have all played a part. Many have deemed it as a useless waste of time and in some respects it has been. A lot of artists have stepped up to the plate over the years trying to blaze trails for the rest of us; but only a few have made it to the regional/national level and been able to truly connect with the intended audience, it was the reason i stepped into the game in the first place trying to reach out to my local community (eventually ending up in the Nashville circuit in my current role as a promoter).
However..the lyrical and production qualities have evolved into what we've all been praying for. Many of us have been waiting to see this happen for at least a decade. As a result, my focus has shifted. The goal of this website is to give people a "birdseye view" of what's really going on within the Christian hip hop community..and to provide a bit of some much needed information regarding the Truths of Gods word as it pertains to society, the family, the body of Christ and our individual/corporate responsibilites to support youth leaders that are making a difference in the hip hop culture (creating a real thirst to know more about the Creator of which they speak and facilitating a hunger to dig deeply into the scriptures).
Yes, we're still in an information war (and it's raging) and yes, there's still a lot of work to do; but the Christian rap/hip hop movement has morphed into a unified force for Christ and lives are being transformed as a result! Don't miss this!
There's a saying in the street, "real recognize' real". If the music isn't at least on the same level with MTV for instance, they just..wont..listen (trust me on this one).
Again, God has raised up a group of pastors and youth leaders out of the street that are a) creating compelling content, b) absolutely in love with His Word and c) have a passion to reach our kids.
That's a winning combination no matter how you look at it!
These are exciting times that we're living in! We need to get behind this movement..it's turned into sort of a microcosm of the church, many members but one body, one God one love, working together for His glory. Even if you don't feel connected to it, do a bit of research and you'll soon come to some very interesting conclusions. It's actually making a difference on multiple fronts!
God has provided the tools to reach our kids with the message of hope found in the gospel, it's up to us to use them effectively! For to long we've been plagued by doubt and fear.
Step up..He is able!
The interview with Jr.
Q.What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?
Well...when it comes to my genre, it's evolved into what we've all been waiting for. It took a while for the cream to rise to the top because many thought it wasn't possible...that's about to change.
Q. What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?
The times that we're living in are unlike any other in history. Music is a window to the soul and our world is getting darker and darker every day...too many artists are taking advantage of that right now. Instead of being responsible creatively, they're using their talents to promote the disintegration of the family and of society itself.
Q. What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).
I've got a project underway right now due out in early September. What I'm really looking to do is collaborate with others of like passion who have a burning desire to make a positive difference...but I'll go it alone if I have to...
Q. What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?
I usually do most of my creating outside the studio...in the van, at the park, on my way to work, at lunchbreak...I like how KJ-52 (5-tweezy) says it in one of his tracks..."I'll grab a napkin if it's all I got ta write on...hittin' ya so hard ya feel it in yer protons"...or somethin' like that. As far as recording goes...you need to be in a professional studio with a quality sound engineer that understands what you're trying to do to really make it happen.
Q. In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?
Probably in every way. Your style is heavily influenced by how and where you grew up, you can't escape that part...
Q. When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?
We vacationed in the smokeys not too long ago with my brother'in law, his wife and all of our kids...it was needed trust me, anyway I couldn't get the fans out o' my mind (even though I was supposed to) and ended up writing a whole mess o'lyrics. I can't turn it off...I've got a lot to say, (lol).
Q. As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?
I have noticed that I listen to myself more than I do anybody else lately but I'm in the creation phase so I guess that's expected. Every time I listen to a track I try to imagine that it's the first time. You get a really good feel for your project after about a zillion times of hearing it, you want to present it in a way that is pleasing to the ear and leaves a good taste in their mouth when they walk away...this IS art after all.
Q. Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)
I'm into the new music although growing up on the west coast as a teen during the eighties influenced my flavor. I've noticed my style's kinda wacked at times...but it is what it is ya know? As far as genre, it's got to be Christian. There's to much deception out there to be playin around...but be yourself that's what I say...
Q. Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?
Casting Crowns has got to be my first choice...and it would have to be their song, "Praise you in the storms"
Q. What's the saddest song you've ever heard?
...John Micheal Montgomery/the Little Girl