The Restoration is your first album in seven years. Tell us how you decided to record a project with this theme.

The last seven years have been a bittersweet time of learning my deep need for Christ's grace, but also a glorious time of Christ making clear he already accomplished my restoration with the finished work of his life, death, and resurrection. In the midst of being overwhelmed by my sinfulness, my restoration occurred as I looked away from my performance to what Jesus has done in restoring me to the Father. The encouragement, hope, and joyful strength I found in feeding on my positional right-standing---secured by Christ's blood and righteousness (i.e., justification)---further empowered his ongoing restoration (i.e., sanctification) in my life.

So I felt burdened to make a project that would build up God's people by encouraging them to look to the glory of Christ's grace at Calvary and to rest in his righteousness for ongoing confidence in this challenging Christian walk. I also wanted to show how central to the Christian life are doctrinal terms like "justification by faith alone," "union with Christ," and "adoption," and how these realities are a solid rock amid our struggles with sin.

How does this album differ from your previous ones (The Great Awakening [2003] and Killing Sin [2005])? Has your style evolved over the years?

The Great Awakening was a celebration of my unexpected new birth in Christ. We thought the title was fitting for that reason, as well as to point back to the revival led by Jonathan Edwards---since the project was one of the first hip-hop albums to emphasize Reformed theology. Killing Sin was inspired by a John Piper sermon series emphasizing Spirit-empowered sanctification titled "How to Kill Sin."

While The Great Awakening celebrated initial salvation and Killing Sin sought to help the listener make war on the flesh, The Restoration differs in that it seeks to highlight the all-sufficiency of Christ's grace for the entire Christian life. I'd like to think it's a humbler, more aware-of-my-neediness approach to a gospel-centered lifestyle.

Stylistically, I'm still considered a rugged, underground emcee---though I did try to branch out little more sonically (thanks to deejay essence, Wit, and Demodocus) to sound at least somewhat "current." I'll never go for that commercial sound, though. That would be like Westminster going dispensational!

What have the last few years taught you about the local church---particularly the importance of pastoral care and the means of grace?

One of my new mottos is: "Want restoration? Go to church!" My wife and I are indebted to Lance Lewis, who pastors Christ Redemption Fellowship in Philadelphia, for his ongoing care as he walked with us through some of the hardest years of our marriage. His passionate gospel-saturated preaching, his and Rick Horne's close shepherding and counseling, and the ongoing prayers of the saints proved to be God's effectual means of restoration grace for my family. For that reason I have a song on the album celebrating Christ's means of grace (featuring Pastor Lewis and Shai Linne)!

There has been a long-running debate about how Christian artists should reflect the surrounding artistic culture and seek to change it. How do you see your role as a Christian in the arts?

It's clear that God desires humans to make art that would reflect him and his beauty.

What's interesting (and a bit humorous) is that the Father ordained from all eternity that I'd use the "foolish" (1 Cor. 1:27) medium of hip-hop to magnify his Son and build up his people. I say "interesting" because God even allowed me to rap for several years as an unbeliever to tone my craft---while blaspheming his holy name---until he sovereignly regenerated me and redirected the goal of my music to be for his glory, not mine. Now I only desire to use this art form to highlight Christ in the gospel, and do so as excellently as possible (cf. Lamp Mode's mission statement). I'm grateful to have the privilege of not only seeking to make "good art," but to direct it toward him who is Beauty personified, Jesus Christ.

Read the rest of this interview here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/08/08/our-rapper-restoring-god/




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