After his show at Wheaton on Saturday, Nov. 10, Collision Records artist Swoope spoke with the Record about his new album and the current state of Christian hip-hop.
A relative newcomer to Christian rap, Swoope released his official debut album, “Wake Up,” in March of this year.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Record: Your new album “We Live as Kings” is a collaboration with fellow artists Christon Gray, Alex Faith and Dre Murray. How has the process been?
It’s been phenomenal. When I was working on “Wake Up,” even though it was a very enjoyable process, it got tedious at times — trying to be so creative because it was just one person. But with “We Live as Kings,” it’s four of us, so everything is clicking. … Creativity is bubbling. I think it’s one of the best projects that Collision (Records) has done.
What are three albums that have influenced you the most?
They’re going to be all over genre-wise. Herbie Hancock’s “Sunlight” was crazy creative. I’m going to go with Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s “The Faith.” I appreciated how he was writing to the Church instead of about the Church or to the world. … That really influenced me.
As far as biggest influence, I’m going to go with Lecrae’s “Rebel.” I think that gave Christian hip-hop a boost … Those are three of many.
What influenced your album “Wake Up” the most?
Two of the biggest influences were the book of Ecclesiastes and “Inception.” Ecclesiastes is just phenomenal to me, where the teacher goes through every pleasure of the world, every feeling that any human being could go through. You can say that he was living the life, and he was just like, “This is all in vain, this is all going to pass away. Fear the Lord — that’s your duty, glorify him.” He paints a picture of a world that is and is not at the same time, and that’s kind of what “Inception” was about — dreams within a dream, worlds within a world.
You have a lot of songs about social issues. Do you think there’s been more emphasis on social issues in Christian hip-hop?
Yes. No question about that. I think as Christians we’re starting to wake up and see that we exist as human beings in a fallen world and the Spirit of the Lord is in us to address all issues, not just legalism or “Should I listen to secular music?” but social issues as well.
Where do you think that Christian hip-hop is now, and where is it going?
Where it is now is on the shoulders of Lecrae. He’s definitely the biggest artist in the genre. But, by the power of the Lord, through Lecrae we kicked the door open in mainstream hip-hop. … People are starting to notice us. I think it will become a legitimate sector of hip-hop. … I don’t think it will ever be respected to the magnitude of the other genres just because that’s what Jesus said — “If they hate me and you follow me, they’ll hate you too” — but I think we’ll get to the point where they cannot deny the talent and level of excellence that Christian hip-hop is putting out.
What advice would you have for young people who want to go into Christian hip-hop?
With Lecrae getting as big as he is, there’s a lot of spotlight. People want the spotlight; they want the limelight — so I would say search your heart for motives. Christian rap is not for everybody. But if you ask the Lord to search your heart and he gives you the green light, so to speak, I would say stay true to yourself and to the Scriptures. Don’t try to be anybody else, don’t try to be Lecrae, and don’t try to be Swoope. … Be you, be who the Lord has called you to be. But also stay true to the foundation of our faith, which is the Scriptures.
Banner Courtesy: Collision Records; Photo Courtesy: @MrSwoope
Printed in the November 16, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.