Jac Rip takes gospel rap to new heights
blog by Maria Redd • November 13, 2012 @ 8:36am
Being an avid hip-hip fan, my curiosity was piqued when I came across a “Gospel rapper” who goes by the name of Jac Rip. Rap is hard to master in itself, but to create music that stays true to who you are and your purpose can be that much more difficult. We tracked down Jac Rip and he talked to us about finding that balance and why Christian rap is on the rise.
ReddRoxx: Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview! One thing that caught me initially was your name, Jac Rip—how did that name come about?
Jac Rip: Originally, I went by Young Pharaoh, but when I signed my artist development deal with boutique label of Arista, they made me change it. My last name is Jackson and I rip mics, so I went with Jac Rip.
RR: Where are you from originally?
JR: I’m from Buffalo
RR: I would like to get right into your genre of music because what you do is a little different than the average rapper.
JR: I hate putting labels on my music because it boxes it in, but most would classify my music as Christian rap. It’s definitely spiritual, but more so than anything its real—anyone who is human can relate to my subject matter.
RR: What the music world consider Gospel or Christian rap seems to be a difficult genre to tackle—however, I find the music that you create to be very relatable. Have you encountered any difficulties making the transition from traditional rap to Gospel rap?
JR: It’s the same game, really—you still have cliques and circles. You still have to have your business together. I honestly wish I would have transitioned earlier.
RR: How do you feel like your music is perceived now that you’ve made that transition?
JR: It’s been good, overall. I’ve had tons of great feedback.
RR: I had the opportunity to read your bio, but let the readers know what made you decide to make that transition:
JR: Originally, it was to take advantage of a small touring opportunity and make some money. Then, as I was working on my CD, I pretty much had that “a-ha” moment. My eyes opened up and I think God was telling me what my real path was.
RR: I think you have done a very good job finding a balance between traditional hip hop versus music with a purpose. It’s almost like you have buried messages in clear view—would you consider that a technique?
JR: That’s a great way to put it—I may have to use that from now on. I feel like I want to still be sonically relevant with today’s music but just offer that substance that a lot of music is lacking. In the 1980s and 1990s, we had a great balance on the radio and MTV and I feel like we lost that. You would hear NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS One etc., all within the same show format. I miss and I wish we could get that balance back somehow.
RR: I agree with you there. Music has definitely gone in a different direction. So with that said, who’s your greatest influence?
JR: Musically I look up to Nas for the storytelling and Snoop for that swag he brought. But I’m just a fan, overall, so I can listen just about anyone and respect them for the role they play in this game.
RR: I’m also a big fan of Nas, I can hear his influence in some of your music. Given the current path of hip hop/rap, where do you see the future for Gospel rap?
JR: It’s gaining ground fast. I mean, look—Lecrae sold 100,000 units in the first week (of his new release, Gravity) last month independently. I think people are ready for it now—we kinda fill in the gap where conscious rap used to be. The beats and artists are really stepping up and it’s not corny like what Gospel rap used to be considered.
RR: I can say that there was a stigma with Gospel rap when it first came about. Traditional Gospel music rejected it and traditional hip-hop did, too. However, I see that stigma fading fast—especially with artists making great music, such as yourself. So as you continue to make great music, If you could name one person that you would like to collaborate with, whom would it be and why?
JR: It’s so many, but right off the bat, I would have to say Nas. He talks a lot about his spirituality in his rhymes and I think we could meet at a common ground to make some great music.
RR: So, what music do you currently have available for purchase?
RR: Cool. What other projects do you currently have in the works?
JR: I’m working on a mix tape due out in December, as well as my next full length album Testimony 2: Still Standing, which will be released sometime next year.
RR: I’ll be looking out for both! What about performances—anything coming up?
JR: I’m doing events every week—I’ve been in Florida, North Carolina as well as Georgia. I plan on spreading back up top soon— I can’t wait to get back home to Buffalo and represent.
RR: Every week? That’s great to hear! It’s also great to hear that you’ll be representing for Buffalo, I think it’s so important to not forget where you came from. What else do you have going on in conjunction with or besides the music?
JR: I handle so much with my music—it pretty much consumes me. I do all my recording, music videos, graphics design. My merchandise line is doing very well.
RR: You are a one-man-army! No wonder you don’t have time for anything else. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, especially when you believe in what you’re doing. You seem to have found a great balance and niche. What advice would you have for other upcoming artists in the genre of rap?
JR: Put God first. Everything you do, do it in excellence. Excellence is expensive up front but it pays for itself in the long run.
RR: Leave us with one of your favorite quotes….
JR: Never become an enemy of a man of God. You may just become his stepping stone!
Photo from Facebook.