Odyssey Exclusive: Interview With Sir The Baptist

Odyssey Exclusive: Interview With Sir The Baptist

Very few artists encompass "started from the bottom, now we're here" like Sir the Baptist has.

Church Pub Rap. Contemporary Ghetto Gospel. Secular Hip Hop.

For a genre with so many names, it's difficult to place your finger on precisely what this style of music sounds like - that is, until you listen to Sir the Baptist perform. While an R&B infused gospel seems like an impossible sound, it makes sense once you learn about Sir the Baptist's history.

I had the opportunity to meet with Sir the Baptist and his team as they took over Free Press Summer Fest in Houston, TX. An "urban hymnist" in his own right, Sir is the son of a preacher and a missionary, with such secularism evident in his music influenced by Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. While performing, he had opened up to the audience as someone much more than an artist, but also a vivid story teller, discussing his experience as a homeless man and other obstacles in his life.

"I think life is an obstacle course," he told me after his performance. "You've kinda just gotta keep going every day. Wake up, work hard, and hopefully you jump and overcome an obstacle that you didn't even know was there."

Wake up and work hard, he did, evident with his tremendous Atlantic Record deal and successful national tour. From Bonnaroo to Lollapalooza,from taking over BET's Snapchat to taking over the stage at Late Night with Seth Meyers, the explosive success is as evident as ever, but offered some more input on life's constant struggles.

"You see, some of the obstacles are ourselves. The biggest stumbling block is the one we set there - out of being egotistical, not communicating with one another - we set [these obstacles] because of ourselves."

Another thing that sets Sir the Baptist apart from other performers in the industry is him and his team's determination to give back everywhere they perform. Whether it's aiding flood victims in Houston, refugees in the northwest, or simply speaking with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, they're dedicated to helping our nation's communities in any way they can.

"In this industry, I think we've set a terrible norm - taking money, calling it entertainment, and begging for money on Twitter... Like, what are you doing? They need money in the community! Don't take advantage of your community. Give back."

It's inspiring, listening to Sir the Baptist and his team speak. Nowadays, society doesn't expect artists to do anything but perform, which is precisely the notion they hope to change. "Our generation has to start fixing this... Get back to helping," he pleas. "Get involved! Get out of the studio, and go to somebody who's sleeping in a studio - one bedroom - with eight kids!"

This idea of selflessness and giving back to the community is evident throughout the team, who took me in that day at the festival and welcomed me as if I were one of their own. I'd like to give a shoutout to the fantastic team consisting of, Jay Cohen, Johnny Fan, Ajaj Frazier, Scott Englert, Joshua Stovall, Shannon Clay, Kelsey Quinn, those I knew simply as Tuba and Vet, and of course, Sir William James the Baptist.

If you have time, Sir the Baptist's music through Spotify or watch his music videos on YouTube. If you don't have the time, make it and then proceed to do all of the above. Learn more about DeedPin, a creation backed by the team to track good deeds throughout the world. Not only their music, but also their message and service is a breath of fresh air in the music industry that audiences of all walks of life are sure to enjoy.

And remember, "raise Hell until you reach Heaven's door."

Cover Image Credit: Sir the Baptist: Official Website

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What Do You Do When Tragedy Strikes Your Former Home?

In my desperate attempt to figure this out, I'm writing about it.


On November 8th, I woke up with a voicemail from my mom. It went a little like this,

"Hey, it's Momma. I'm sorry it's really early your time, but I wanted to have you hear from me before you got the news on. There was a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks last night at a country bar about ten minutes from where our house was in Moorpark. There are 12 people dead, the shooter is dead, and a cop. It was college night at the bar, so anyone over 18 could go in. There were students from multiple colleges there, that's all they know so far. It's just horrible." And so on. I made it about halfway through the voicemail before I pulled out my laptop.

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. This is what is referred to as one of the safest towns in America. This town was a short drive away from my home in Moorpark. These people are mostly my age. Then, the worst one occurred to me. What if when they display the victims' pictures, I recognize a face?

According to USAToday, the Thousand Oaks shooting is the 307th shooting on the 311th day of 2018. Are we supposed to allow ourselves to be desensitized to this gun violence? I sure hope not. I'll save you the agony of listening to how the rest of my day went. Long story short, I watched the news and cried more than I'd like to admit.

As the day carried on, I watched the pictures come up on my computer screen. I scrolled through social media and looked at my friend's posts of their friends being safe. Somehow, that did not calm me down. I watched the victim's faces pop up one by one on my laptop, and I listened to the stories.

All country music lovers, all college students, all heroes who helped save the lives of others before they lost their own. It was not until Friday that I realized I did recognize one of the faces. I logged onto my Facebook to get rid of a notification, and there it was. A picture of my childhood swim coaches, and Noel Sparks. Now, I understand that it's been years, but that doesn't make it any better. Each victim of the shooting had so much more life to be lived, and my heart breaks for each one of them. I send all of my love to the family, friends, and everyone affected by the Borderline shooting.

Not even a day later, there was news of a fire that is rapidly spreading. According to CBS News, The Woolsey fire has burned 98,362 acres of land and is only about 57% contained. While this fire has only 3 confirmed fatalities, the second fire that is burning in California has taken the lives of 56 people and burned 140,000 acres of land. I can spit out as many facts as my fingers can research, but it doesn't change the fact that my heart aches for my former home. When all of this tragedy happens and I'm 1,835 miles away, I have never felt so helpless. I donated to the victim's families, but I have not found a way to make sense of this in my mind. Why do these things happen? There's no concrete answer to this question, so am I going to wonder it forever?

If you would like to find a place to donate to the Borderline victims' families, click here. If you would like to find a place to donate to the victims' of the fires, click here.

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