The music industry and especially hip-hop can be a bit exaggerated at times, possibly even fake. People pretend to be something they’re not and back ideas that they don’t really believe in just to sell a few records and make a few fair-weather fans, but that definitely isn’t the case with rapper DAY.
DAY is an artist who stays true to his word. When you hear him speak about bringing something different to the art of hip-hop and spreading the message, you can feel the authenticity in his voice and see it in his music. It’s that realness that could potentially catapult him into the ears and minds of not only Christian rap fans, but also music fans in general. The thing is he doesn’t want to be just another one-trick pony.
What brought you to Christian rap?
That wasn’t my intention to begin with. I first began to really have a vision to do music when I was about 18, and I went away to college in Boston. I didn’t really succeed during my first two semesters, and I messed up and was pulled out of school. I came back home to Connecticut and was really just going through the motions and kind of depressed and just smoking weed and drinking and doing whatever I could do just to get me through it.
I began asking myself at that time what I really wanted to do with my life because there had to be more to it than this. The first thing that came to my mind was how I used to go to my mother’s house when nobody was there and play the piano, and that was like the most satisfaction I got. No matter what I was going through, I could get that piano out and feel at peace.
I knew right then and began to connect what I wanted to do and what I believed God had purposed for me to do, which is music. I wasn’t really planning on directing it as far as doing gospel rap. I never thought about it. I didn’t even really know that it existed.
What about rap in general? What’s your story behind that?
Of course, I liked hip-hop. I used to listen to Pac back then and DMX when he was first coming out. Those were two artists that really inspired me because they were going through it, but they had a connection with their faith and would apply it while being very real at the same time. I just related to them, and those were two artists that really inspired me back then.
So how did you go from listening to Pac and X to now gearing up to release a Christian rap CD?
It’s not that I want to go the gospel rap route; I really don’t want to put a box around me. If people are going to call it gospel rap because I mention God or I speak the word of God, then that’s what they’re doing. All I’m doing is living, and it’s real, and I think eventually when people see how real it is, then they’ll stop putting it in a box.
I think a lot of people don’t really know or have experienced God, so they have to put it in a genre, but to me it’s not a genre. It’s kind of funny to me because someone like DMX has talked about God and Pac has mentioned him, but people don’t call that gospel rap.
I think it would be a stretch to get people to put those two in that category.
Why don’t they call that gospel rap? Is it because they cuss, also? It’s kind of like, where is the line drawn? It’s not that I’m choosing to be a gospel rap artist. I’m not trying to do gospel rap, and I’m not trying to make a gospel song. I’m just going through what I’m going through and seeking God through it. Whatever comes out in a song will hopefully identify with people going through it and point them in the direction of Christ because He’s real.
Would you say what you’re trying to do with your music is a conscious effort?
I don’t want to push religion on anyone, because I don’t. What I want to do is point people in the direction who are seeking. That’s what it’s about. I know that the great commission that real Christians have is to bring the gospel. To really reach people, it has to be done through the avenues of music and television and these other things that the world is using.
What are they using it for? They don’t know what to use it for. There’s no purpose in it. I realize what it’s for, and I can’t do it for anything else. It doesn’t make sense to do it for anything else. I really don’t want it to be in the box of gospel rap. I want it to go to the world.
Michael Mahon attended Clark Atlanta University, where he majored in journalism. He is a regular contributor to SoJones.com and has written for several other online and print publications, including Ballerstatus.com, Allhiphop.com, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and INsite Atlanta. Aside from writing, he is also a huge sports fan and film buff.