Believin Stephen (Hip-Hop/Rap)
Posted Jun 10, 2010.
Hey Stephen how's everything going today?
I'm doing well Jonny Havoc! (Johnny is my first cousin for those that don't know!!) Regular work day for me at the University of Pittsburgh. Gonna throw some weights around pretty soon.
I've been following your music carrier for a few years now , watching you play shows, make music videos and grow in the music industry and I'm excited to be doing an interview with you today on Big Smile Magazine.
So Stephen, your a Christian Hip-Hop artist from Pittsburgh PA could tell us a little more about your self? How you got started in music?
I grew up in Pittsburgh in the city parts and was exposed to hip-hop in like second grade. The first CD me and my brothers had was by MC Hammer. After that it was Dr.Dre, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Biggie, Nas, Redman, Wu Tang, etc . Hip-hop was ALL I ever listened to growing up. Me and my brother Timothy started messin around and writing some rhymes back in middle school (they were WACK lol) Then in high school Timothy started getting more serious with it and started rhyming in a group called the Deadly Scribes. He was an underground battle rapper at the time and was starting to gain a fan base. I didn't have much desire to write rhymes or rap at the time but I was always around it and going to countless amounts of shows. After God changed my heart in 2001 He gave me new desires to glorify him. I started having all these creatives ideas of stuff I wanted to write about. I started to have a burden for hurting people and also was excited about what God had done in my life! In college I started writing lyrics again on a regular basis but kinda kept them to myself. I then started to spit them for some of my friends and they were like, "Yo, this is dope. You need to start doing events and recording". After that it was on and poppin, by God's grace.
Do you remember your first live performance? Tell us a little about it.
LOL..Yes I do remember it! It was back in 2004 in Philadelphia. I remember earlier in the day I had a helped a friend move along with a few other people. Every 2nd Friday in Philadelphia they have an open mic night type of thing at this church called Sharon Baptist. It gets a good attendance every time they have it. I had been practicing some rhymes for a while before that and when I got to the event I decided I would sign up for the open mic. I remember practicing my lines in the hallway as I waited for them to call me up. It seemed like forever before they actually called my name and the butterflies were all up in my stomach! They finally called my name and I went up there and spit this acapella joint. I was amazed at the great response and how much people were feelin what I was saying after every punchline. When I was done I remember the crowd goin nuts! I was totally shocked! I have to say that was one of the best performances I ever had after doing shows now for six years!
Tell us a little about your latest live performance and how much things have change since your first one.
Word. Things have changed quite a bit since that first one back in 2004. My most recent performance was at Lancaster Bible College. I had a full set of about 15-20 minutes (a lot longer than that first one of 3 minutes) I get a lot more into it now at my shows and express a lot of energy and emotion on stage. Another thing that is different now are my expectations I have before I go on stage. In the past I would get discouraged if the crowd was not all hyped or seemed to be not engaged in what I was saying. After doing countless amounts of shows I have learned that I can spit a song the SAME exact way at one show as I do at another and the crowd may react a whole different way. I try to do my music to the glory of God so I try to remember that is the reason I am doing my music when I go on stage. As Paul says in Galatians 1 Ã¢Â€ÂœAm I trying to gain the approval of man or of God? If I was trying to gain the approval of man I would not be a bondservant of ChristÃ¢Â€Â. Another thing that is different now is that I have so many songs I have written (around 40-50 songs) I try not to do the same set everywhere I go which allows me to be challenged and to try to spit different songs on a regular basis.
I watched your new music video "Back In The Burgh" a bit ago on youtube, I really liked it. Did you have fun making the video, or was it a lot of work?
Thanks for checkin it out! It was a lot of fun man! Many people donÃ¢Â€Â™t know this but I helped direct that video. I picked out all the scenes (from the weight room to the tunnel to the stadium). I also helped be selective with the editing. Shout out to my man Louis White who hooked me up with that video!! He put in a lot of time and energy into it! I can't wait to do another one!
What's playing in your headphones right now?
I am mainly a hip-hop head and the hip-hop I bump is normally from cats who are Christians. ( Theres only a few secular artists that I actually listen to)
These are the joints I've been bumpin recently.
Japhia Life- Nazareth album
Timothy Brindle- Killing Sin
Ackdavis- Downtime mixtape
Calm One and Mike Beats- Kingdom of this World is Storing up Rust
Sovereign Grace Worship Band- 2009 NEXT Live
John Piper and Mark Driscoll sermons
Instrumentals-- I love listening to hip-hop beats and freestyling in the car
Unlike a lot of bands I know that have full length Cd's of, your actually giving it away for free at www.speakingindoctrines.com. That's great and its downloading as we speak. When do you plan to come out with your next album?
Thanks man. Yea, I have a project with 9 songs on it called the What I Believe EP that came out in 2007. That one is available on iTunes. I dropped The Perseverance Mixtape, which has 19 tracks on it in 2009. That one is available for free download at www.speakingindoctrines.com I am currently working on my debut full length album which is gonna be called The Suffering Servant. That one should be available by late 2010/early 2011.
What does the future hold for you when it comes to live shows, music videos and recording?
I try to put that in GodÃ¢Â€Â™s hands and do my work unto Him and ask that He will be pleased and that He will open doors as He sees fit. I have a handful of shows this summer on the east coast and in October I was invited to spit in London. I'm excited about that because IÃ¢Â€Â™ve never done a show in Europe yet! This summer I will be grindin hard recording for my new album. I am close to being done with the writing but still have a good amount of recording to do. I also plan on putting out an EPK (electronic press kit) as well as a music video for the new album! This is the best stuff I have ever done and the aim is to not get a ton of recognition from it. The aim is to impact people's lives and reach hurting people and point them to Christ who suffered for us!
Any last words to all your fans reading this interview with Big Smile Magazine?
I have a heart for hurting people out there. I encourage you all to trust in Jesus who took the pain and suffering for us. Remember that He cares for you and suffered for you on the cross so that you won't have to suffer for eternity. God is a compassionate God who sees all your pain and sorrow. He desires to heal you from your heartache and pain but you must repent and believe. For my fans out there, I would appreciate your prayers as I set to drop this new album and I know the enemy will continue to attack me.