How “Nobody Famous” Revived Me

April 5, 2017
April 5, 2017 Jason

*cue BET Black Star Power movie freeze frame*

That guy right there in that pic? Yep. That’s me. You’re wondering why I’m making that face. Well, you can blame Jered Sanders for that. You see? I’m a hip hop head. Born in Philly in the early 80s. I heard Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, LL, etc. I was too young to really understand what was being birthed, but I do remember my toddler years as well as the toddler years of hip hop.

I moved to Richmond at age 8 and ended up falling in love with A Tribe Called Quest (hence my moniker “A Man Called Jason). I remember hearing the bootleg version of Illmatic before it was released. I remembered Wu. I remembered all these lyricists. I fell in love with BEATS AND BARS.

Fast forward to my college years. I joined a Christian Hip Hop group called REACTION in 1999 (which eventually turned into TwoThree in 2007). Most of us were students at Oral Roberts University. Most of us knew about CHH. I was not one of those folks. All I knew was hip hop. I didn’t know about sub-genres. I just knew BEATS AND BARS. To add more confusion to the mix, ORU was located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and majority of the cats were from the midwest. I was extreme east coast, but I was outnumbered. So I had to rap over running hi-hats and sirens and whatnot. No Preemo beats. No Large Professor beats. No boom-bap. I adjusted tho. It stretched me, but…again…all I knew were BEATS AND BARS. While cats were arguing the “Nah, I’m a Christian rapper” vs “Nah, I’m a rapper who is a Christian” debate, I just wanted to get these bars out. I didn’t care about the politics.

Eventually I became a tough critic of CHH because I felt like Cross Movement and em were stuffing hermeneutics down people’s throats and you had to pass seminary classes to feel worthy to be a CHH rapper. (No diss. Just my thoughts at the time) When I started feeling cats like G.R.I.T.S., I felt like I got rebuked because they weren’t “holy” enough and their music was playing on the devil’s channel (MTV). So…over the years I grew more bitter towards CHH, ironically while rapping in the same sub-genre. For every Flame or Lecrae track I heard, I got (what I felt like) a rebuke track from Da T.R.U.T.H (again, no diss. This was before he balanced out).

I don’t even really advertise that I’m a CHH rapper anymore, despite having 17 years of work (2 albums, 7 mixtapes and over 250 songs). I was just exhausted. Meanwhile, my boy Thrill had been a CHH head since the Toby Mac/Stephen Wiley/End Time Warriors days, so periodically he would refer some new CHH cats to me and I would swerve him like clockwork. I personally know Cash Hollistah, FEDEL, and Dre Murray, so you know…it was like me just hearing my boys rap. I respected them. Even recorded with them at different times, so for those reasons, they didn’t count. I mean I was gonna bump them anyway. Thrill almost hooked me on Eshon and J.Givens, but I wasn’t 100% hooked.

DISCLAIMER: It’s not their fault. They are mad dope! I was just too jaded, closed-minded and petty to fully convert. It would have to take a CHH cat I could really gravitate to. A CHH rapper who was about BEATS AND BARS.

Fast forward to 3 years ago. I finally left Tulsa and moved back home to VA. I never thought that I would ever rap or perform again, especially in church. At this point, I got a wife and 4 kids, so my rap “hoop dreams” were behind me. Whenever I did rap, it was because I loved the process and my kids are now old enough to love what I do. Well…word got out at my church a few weeks ago, and I ended up doing a random spoken word. They were floored and now injected me in the Easter play to do another spoken word. Now locked in this weird CHH position again, my boy Thrill seized the moment to flood my GroupMe with links to new CHH cats.

My swerve game was still strong tho, but that didn’t stop him. Eventually FEDEL put him on to Jered Sanders. When Thrill heard the BEATS AND BARS and found out that he was from VA, he HAD to let me know. I don’t know if he was used to my swerve game or not, but he went about it differently this time. He was like “How far is Fredericksburg from you?” Then he was like, “Yo, there’s this rapper (notice, no CHH was mentioned) named Jered Sanders from Fredericksburg.” He posted a link, but it was in the evening when I was trying to get my kids to bed, so I unintentionally swerved him again. #ScoutsHonor. So that morning, Thrill posted the song “Powin Up (The Spirit of Peer Pressure)” off the Nobody Famous album, and…well…*see pic at the top of this blog*. I immediately remembered the hook from UGK, then I recognized the beat flip of “Sky Is The Limit” from Biggie and I was hooked. THEN, to my surprise…BARS! I heard CHH references, but it was perfectly intertwined with the BEATS AND BARS yo. Immediately after hearing that song, I HAD to listen to the whole album. Now listen, I am a tough critic. TOUGH I TELL YOU! I will skip a song in a heartbeat! You know those folks who call albums classic on the first listen? Nah, that’s not me at all. I will skip songs of my favorite artists. Heck, sometimes I will even skip MY songs on my own previous projects. It’s just the way of life B. lol BUT…for the first time in a LONG TIME…I’m thinking maybe College Dropout…don’t quote me tho, I DID NOT SKIP A SONG!

It was sooooo refreshing. I was so hype that I was live tweeting. What really won me over was the fact that Jered was retweeting and responding to my live tweets! Again, I’ve been in this CHH life (most times reluctantly) for over 17 years. A good portion of them CHH cats can be snobs off the stage and away from the pulpit. Not Jered tho. I went from liking the art to liking the artist. Today, he gained a fan and guess what? CHH has regained my attention! I’m gonna give Eshon and J.Givens another chance. Mouthpi3ce is dope too. FEDEL, Dre Murray and Cash already get rotations. I opened up for Bizzle once, so I’m familiar with him.

I feel rejuvenated! I’m even more excited to start doing music again!

Thanks Jered! (now I gotta listen to your other albums)

Go listen to his album NOW. Matter of fact, let me embed it below: