I consider myself someone who can appreciate all aspects of hip-hop. While I can respect cats like Nelly and Trick Daddy, who fill the airways with records about money and bitches and get the clubs jumping, I’m sure you all will agree that these topics have reached saturation. I can also give respect when someone comes out with a positive message and thoughtful lyrics. Enter 7Life. While he may be a “Christian” emcee, he’ll make sure you know that first and foremost, he’s an emcee. Make no mistake, this isn’t your ordinary Sunday morning preacher.
l-ementary: Alright, so why don’t you first introduce yourself for everybody…
7Life: Alright, this is 7Life the Glorious Alpha, coming out of Oshawa, just letting people know what we’re doing.
How’d you get started in hip-hop and why did you decide to get in the game?
Well, basically, I saw two people freestyling one day at my school and I was just blown away. I wanted to be part of that. Then, one day this man at a party just started spitting lyrics at me and I spit ‘em back…I love hip-hop so I wanted to be a part of it in any way.
Definitely. So, I guess if you were gonna classify yourself, people would call you a religious or spiritual emcee. But, on your website you say: “I don’t want to be a typical Christian emcee, I want to be an emcee who’s Christian”. So what’s the difference between those two?
Well, Christian emcees I find it…well Christian hip-hop becomes kind of a subculture to hip-hop and only its own people understand it, kind of, and I never wanna be a part of that because the exposure it gets is limited. I want to go out there with the same cats who are doing it everywhere, but yet I am a Christian and what I am about naturally comes across. I don’t have to put myself in a box.
But the inspiration for what you do, does that come from say, God or the Bible?
I think when a lot of people do their music their lifestyle comes across and how they live. And when I’m writing rhymes naturally my lifestyle comes out in it. But my inspiration would be…I’m inspired by guys like Common, people who take life and talk with metaphors…I want to speak about life because I go through the same thing as the next guy would except I view it differently because of what I believe.
A couple years ago Christian hip-hop was….virtually unknown…but now you got guys like yourself, Cross Movement, a lot of guys down south…who are getting exposure and people are starting to pay attention. Why do you think right now? Why do you think the spiritual movement is coming about?
I think there’s been so much “bling bling” and so much garbage that’s out there, people are more opened-minded when something different comes along, whether its spirituality or something else, it’s something different and it’s healthy. I think deep down inside people know what fakeness is and they take it in and it’s fun and it gets people jumping in the clubs but they know it’s fake and when someone comes along bringing something a little more real to the game, it’s effective…it can effect you.
Cause right now you got the one extreme, everyone talking bout money, about women, and its like a high (low) point. Do you think it’s gonna switch to the other extreme and people like yourself…like Common…do you think intelligent hip hop will be the next big thing?
Well, I think the more as time goes by…the world is getting pretty corrupt and it’s a race for dominance and money and people are realizing hip-hop is something they can make money off of and it becomes a product…industrialized…and I think it looks as if it will continue that way. I’d like to see it change but then again I’d like to see everyone stop killing each other but it doesn’t happen.
Another thing I wanted to ask you about, on the website you “attack” Christian hip-hop…you say: “they rape hip hop – they use it as a tool to get their message across and in doing so they abuse it”. So what do you want to say about that and on the other hand who, out of emcees like yourself, do you think represents religion and spirituality properly?
Well, what I meant by that statement is that they take hip-hop and they don’t really love it for what it is, and it’s more just some medium they use to get their message across. Hip-hop is a culture, and if you don’t live it and involve it in your everyday life then you’re using it and you don’t understand it and that’s why you get songs with whack beats, with whack concepts and it just becomes…You know, a guy with the Save the Whales campaign could go out and do a hip-hop track to promote, you know? They’re using it, you know what I mean? I want people to understand we are a part of hip hop culture, so whatever we can do in hip-hop culture to get the message across…and your other thing is?
Oh, who do you think represents…like, which emcees are you feeling, I guess?
I don’t listen to B.B. Jay…
(laughing) That’s who I was thinking of, too.
I don’t listen to B.B. Jay but I appreciate that he’s doing something different and he’s out there and he’s doing his thing and he’s being honest, you known what I mean? Yeah, he’s like: “I wanna be iced out and God’s blessed me to be iced out”. Like I said, I’m not down with that, but its cool…um, I’ve heard some good stuff coming from Cory Red from Mark of the East…um, I don’t wanna knock anybody, but Cross Movement, they got their place and what they’re doing is good but that’s not really how I wanna come out though. I don’t really preach in my rhymes…if the music’s not good people don’t wanna hear what you have to say. I wanna make good music, that’s my mission statement. And as you get to know me, and as you get to see what I’m about you discover God is in me.
For sure. Taking the Cross Movement thing further, you opened for them right?
And they were in The Source this past month, I don’t know if you knew that.
Yeah, a four page article on, like, Christian hip hop and they were the main focus of it. So what do you think about that – guys opening the doors for you?
I think that’s cool. Just you saying that they were in The Source gives me a little bit of a different light on them because that shows that they are doing something and opening the doors for people like me.
So what are you up to right now?
Right now I’m working with a bunch of people. We don’t have a crew name, per say, but it involves producers, a man that’s speaking with Jive Records right now, and we’re looking kinda in the future to try to form something like a label. We got the financial backing to do it. My place in that, is that I’m the first emcee for them to really try to put out and see what we can do. I’m working towards the single, “For What It’s Worth”, the vinyl that should be dropping. We’re aiming August, September-ish and we pushed the date back cause we’re trying to clear samples. We’re gonna hit up radio stations to get it out.
Who are you working with specifically?
Architekt did that one track with me, “Antidote”. I kind of co-produced the beat. I’m working with this guy Low-Key and he worked with The Grassroots back in the day…he actually kind of brought G-Knight up and he’s been making some dope beats. A track you wouldn’t have heard on the website, called “Everyday Struggle” will be on the flipside of the vinyl. I’m also working with Relic, who produced the beat for “For What It’s Worth”…he’s also got his own project going on – as well our show right now is kind of a dual show. He’s producing more tracks. We’re trying to get back into the studio. Like I said, these guys are all a part of the same camp as I am.
Are you doing any shows in the near future?
Well I recently performed at Mel Lastman Square. There’s a gospel event they hold down in Buffalo, at Six Flags called Kingdom Bound or something, and I’m supposed to be on that bill. I’ve been invited to a lot of places but right now my money, everything, is going into the record…trying to stay focused on that…I’ve done a lot of shows…
Why don’t you tell people about the website so they can go check it out…
The webstite is www.7life.net. We’ll be doing some revamping on that, you can expect some new things. Architekt (the designer) is in Florida right now dealing with a label that’s down there. You’ll be hearing more tracks on it. I wanna update with my thoughts on where everything is going. I got some new freestyles. I’m doing so many freestyles, I wanna get it all up there.
One last question. You were saying before about Christian hip-hop being a subculture, so do you think it’s gonna be possible for an emcee like yourself to get the respect that you want?
Well, that’s my goal and its little things that have been showing me that’s it’s possible. Like when I go down to a secular radio station and they’re loving it, they’re eating it up. I think it’s possible, I just think a lot of it is how you go about it in the business sense and don’t lock yourself into a corner. A man said to be, from Points of Pressure, Toronto has yet to see a righteous dude come up and really lay it down for Toronto, and I wanna be that. We have a guy out there whose dealing with Choclair and he’s spreading the word of what we’re doing. It’s not that we’re really trying to preach to people, I just wanna show people an alternate lifestyle and there’s truth in this hip-hop game…there’s a culture made up of what we bring to it…we just wanna bring it to the music industry…something different and at the same time good and quality.
Anything else you wanna add?
Um, really you asked some good questions and covered the issues. Well, I just wanna let people know there’s a crew of guys coming out of Toronto…be prepared…there’s more to come