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."