Sir The Baptist first peaked my interest when I was freelancing last year and I was assigned to interview him while working SXSW 2016. At first I thought he was just another artist that was trying to get their mixtape covered, but after doing some research, listening to his music, and being genuinely intrigued by his name alone, I found myself anticipating the interview because of his way of unapologetically expressing his love for Christ but still admitting that he is nowhere near the example of a “model Christian”. At the time Sir was an unsigned artist causing a stir on the music scene with his unique blend of Christian values, politics, and hip-hop and using the music as a vessel to spread his messages.
Since last year, this preacher’s kid signed a deal with Atlantic records, opened for Beyoncé, a cosign from Jay-Z, and released his debut album Saint Or Sinner featuring Michelle Williams, Killer Mike, Donald Lawrence, and more. One of his most notable features on the album is the soulful testimonial about domestic violence “Deliver Me” with his new boo, THE Brandy Norwood. In the midst of balancing his busy schedule and touring, Sir hopped on a call with me to talk about his new album, why he doesn’t like to be considered anyone’s “favorite rapper” and more.
Check out the full interview below:
Jamisha Daniels: We last talked at SXSW last year, since then you’ve signed a deal with Atlantic and type of dope things have happened. Tell me about your deal and some of your most memorable experiences from the past year?
Sir The Baptist: Well, since I’ve seen you I’ve finished the album. That’s a crazy experience especially with a label like that. Ray Charles came from there and Aretha Franklin, so for me to be the next sound in that vein but it’s modernized, it’s crazy. Of course, I’ve met Jay-Z and opened up for Beyoncé, and hung out with a bunch of stars and stuff like that but it’s like when we spend time it’s more of a deep conversation than anything. Of course, you got the ones that are stuck on stardom, but the real stars are just simple and nice people. It’s been an amazing ride that’s just a few things that have been amazing to me in this past year.
JD: Have you received any great advice from any of the celebs like Jay and Brandy that you’ve been working with?
STB: The advice is always, “you’re already doing it”, and I’m like, “I’m not doing it. What are we talking about here?” I’m trying, but the advice is always “keep doing what you’re doing”. Ok, like I’m getting ready to go on stage, and I’m outside pacing just trying to get everything together in my head, and Jay-Z walks past and sees somebody talking to me and he’s like, “Yo, give him a second, let him do his thing”. So, you learn different things but it’s always within what you’re already doing. Like recording in front of Brandy, she’s a vocal queen, I mean that’s Whitney Houston’s God daughter. You know what I mean? You realize, “oh, wow. What I’m doing ain’t too far off. These people just want me to do me”. The advice is always to just do you and stay close to who you are.
Being a “Chicago” Artist & The Album
JD: Chicago artists are doing well right now, from you to Chance The Rapper and then BJ The Chicago Kid. All of you are very vocal about your faith and political views, What’s it like to see natives from your city excelling in their careers?
STB: Well…. you know, I’m a Chicago artist just because Bronzeville is in Chicago. I’m not really a Chicago artist, now as I grow into who I am, I’m a Bronzeville artist. The history of my community matters to me more than the state or the city, so I spend more time focusing on things like “how do I make Louie Armstrong proud?” because his house is right down the street. Or, how do I make Nat King Cole proud? You know? The people that carried African American entertainment and intellectuals and all of that sort of stuff. Usually when people ask me that, in no way do I get offended, but I just…I’m more into my ancestors than I am into what’s hot right now. Chicago is just weird when it just comes down to understanding…Chicago, Kanye has said it. Chicago is, they’re hardcore, you’ve got to go make it first and then come back home. So in order for me, as an artist, to not get my feelings hurt by Chicago I make sure I only focus on my community Bronzeville and they’re proud of me.
Jamisha: Your album released on May 12th, tell us about your inspiration behind the project and how you want everyone to receive it when they listen?
Sir The Baptist: The project is a balance in my journey through this industry and it’s a balance of “who are you?”. It’s always asking the question, don’t let California or the LA mindset get you, come back, don’t do the wrong thing, do this, don’t mess with that girl, it’s a journey. With a Christian kid, from Chicago…Bronzeville, goes through this experience of LA and Hollywood, and the music industry. Sometimes it’s temptation, sometimes it’s laying and dancing with the devil, sometimes it’s changing the music culture. The album is really a journey of music through sound and the feeling, through experience and what I’ve done.
The Hip Hop Chaplin & Working With Brandy
JD: I see where you say that you don’t want to be known as anyone’s favorite rapper, but more of the Hip Hop Chaplin, Why?
STB: If I’m your favorite rapper, I’m outside of my comfort zone, I shouldn’t be your favorite rapper. Rappers are …you know, once you learn what you do well, you do it within the line and you make that well. I’m a preacher’s kid at the end of the day, I am my father and that means I like to preach, I like songs… but I like to preach. I like dancing, but I like to preach. I like smoking and drinking, but I like to preach. I like hanging out and doing things that Christians wouldn’t be proud of, but I still like to preach. That’s just how I grew up, so if I put on chains and change my hair color and do some weird stuff right now, you guys wouldn’t believe me. So, I’m stuck with what I know and what I’m called, and what I’ve chosen this because I have a purpose-driven career and not a product driven career. You should write that down, that was good.
JD: What was it like working with Brandy aka the vocal Bible?
STB: It’s crazy, I usually try to give them a little space. But for somebody like Brandy, she’s a genius, she’s legit a genius. You’ve got to realize; she was the last baby that was approved by the greats. Michael [Jackson] made his last album, it was a template from Brandy. Whitney Houston…Brandy, fairy god mother the whole black Cinderella thing. When you’re working with these people, let them do their thing. I realized how much even more of a genius she was, and by the way, there’s this thing that happens when people’s vocals go over each other and it sounds weird. I’m thinking, “Yo, Brandy! Take that effect off your voice!” no that’s just her voice. So, it’s crazy to see. She’s a genius, super-hot, sexy, so of course when I’m in a room with someone so dope I’m like, “dang”. You just sit there and let her do her thing, ya know?
Driving For Lyft – Searching For New Artists Via Lyft
Jamisha Daniels: You used to be a Lyft driver we you first started out, what advice would you give any young creatives who want to pursue side gigs?
Sir The Baptist: I suggest every artist to find a gig, whether it’s Lyft or whatever it is, that you can spend more time focusing on your own work. You can work to survive or you can focus to get to the next level. You know what I mean? I can drive somebody and introduce them to music and then pull over after that ride, turn the app off, and take a phone call. As a business person, because artists are not supposed to be business people, right? You have to go get a manager, or go get this, but artists are supposed to be business people. You don’t need a manager if you can’t give them anything to manage. So, in order to do that you have to take time, and in time there’s trial and error, it’s almost like a scientist in a room working for years and years. You have to take time to develop a cure, and that’s the way I kind of found a way to develop a cure for Hip Hop. In a way that way that’s more holistic, and with that you need to do something and find more ways and avenues to make money but still stay within the construct of the time thing. The time thing is very, very, very important. Every artist, whether your writing, painting, driving, singing, you need time with your art to perfect it. Drive Lyft, I suggest all artists drive Lyft. Especially since I’m going to start riding in Lyfts to look for artists.
JD: Let’s talk about your social media and the Communion Movement and Hip-Hop healing. What’s it about?
STB: I mean we make, we do a lot of miracle sessions, and we’ve got a documentary and we work through frequencies, and this is really a science part so I’m about to get really deep right now. Basically, the way frequencies work because our body, our minds are maybe eighty percent water, the way frequencies move in the body is almost like a tornado or a thunderstorm over water. The water adjusts to the frequency that’s been put over it, this gets into science and sound and how sound affects the brain. This is stuff that I’ve learned when I was working at Leo Burnett, the advertisements and working on billion dollar campaigns with Shrek and McDonald’s; you easily learn the science behind those frequencies.
Like for example, if you didn’t have a brain your brain could only respond to the frequency. It wouldn’t process that the packet that frequency comes with a key if you can hear. My deaf brother, I remember I gave him the technology that allowed him to put the frequencies into his body by using subwoofers and stuff like that to put the frequency in his body and it didn’t need a key but his body adjusts to the music because he felt it. So, this comes down to like an acoustic levitating. How sound affects people.
This is sound bathing, time picking music to hear yourself because music also distracts us, and that’s how I think they’ve got us the most, right? The African-American community. They messed up our music. Someone said, “I would prefer not write the laws, I would prefer to write the National Anthem”, if you google that quote someone really famous and profound said that and I agree with that. Because the way music changed our community, it affects us, we are music beings, specifically in the black community. So, if they wanted to mess up Hip Hop, that was easy. They put us in a different frequency, we’re not even in the right frequency. We’re supposed to be in 4-something…480? What are we in right now? Hold on, I’m about to google this. This is weird, right?
Jamisha Daniels: No, absolutely not. You’re teaching me something right now.
Sir The Baptist: 432 Hertz, so that, music has changed, we have changed the frequency of where we are at right now. You should consider converting your music back into 432 hertz because that across your body can actually heal you. There should be music in hospitals that make people move, and get out of the bed, these things really heal you.
It’s almost like, we’ve become cautious of our health and what we eat, the black community is back to eating healthy now because we’ve been eating scraps forever. Now I want to eat healthy, and now is the time to listen healthy.Ok, that’s my spill.
JD: What are your ItMustBe’s?
Sir The Baptist: I only listen to music that is enlightening.
I only read things are the balance between philosophy and business.
I only like girls that I enlighten. So, enlightened is my MUST BE.
The next girl I’m with, she’s got to carry purpose. If it ain’t enlightened, if it ain’t purpose driven, I’m not for it.
Stream Sir The Baptist’s Album Saint Or Sinner Now: