Last night, leading up to and during the 55th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, most hip-hop fans were probably paying attention to categories like Rap Album of the Year (won by Drake for Take Care), Best Rap Song (taken by “N**gas in Paris”) or how Frank Ocean would fare (he performed towards the end of the show and won for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration). Those paying attention, though, might have caught another rap victory: Lecrae’s Gravity, which took home Best Gospel Album.
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“Can you be Christian and rap at the same time? I think you can take rap and use it for redemptive purposes…I want to provide a landscape of hope for people.” Watch more of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly's interview with Lecrae.
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“I’m short, black, and ugly!” Not the self-introduction expected, but Skerrit Bwoy isn’t who you expect him to be with his blond Mohawk and thick West Indian accent. But many people know him as one of dancehall’s premier DJs and member of electronic dance music slash reggae experiment, Major Lazer. Last November Skerrit Bwoy was booked for two years of international shows, another Major Lazer album, and living the life that most only imagine. But before that, he was being exposed to the Gospel that would eventually change him forever. His family went to church in Antigua by tradition, not necessarily practice. And when he moved to New York at the age of nine, he would attend church by himself.
Skerrit Bwoy started hosting parties as time went on. What started as a one tape deck, one turntable house party turned into a Bronx club night. His crew also invented a dance craze called “daggering.” The sex charged style of dancing spread around the world, along with Skerrit Bwoy’s high energy DJing. It wasn’t until he flew to Jamaica that he saw the true popularity of the dance. “Jamaica took it to a whole new level,” he says.
The day before jumping on a plane to perform in Japan, he got a phone call that would send his career to new heights. Diplo, a DJ that produced for everybody from Beyonce to Chris Brown to Justin Beiber, hit him up. Upon his return from Japan, they performed at SXSW and everything changed. The EDM hit “Pon Di Floor” came out along with the formation of a new group, Major Lazer. The group smashed shows nearly everyday of the week. Life got out of control as Major Lazer’s popularity grew. The concerts weren’t the only crazy thing though. He began having insane dreams:
I had dream that I was this king and I had this kingdom. I was sending out these demons to go destroy people… I just kept having wild dreams.
Skerrit Bwoy got booked for a party back home in Antigua. While visiting family and friends he found out that his sister had gotten saved. She invited him to a revival service. An hour pit stop before dinner turned into a full week of revival:
On the last day there was this lady at the alter. She was up there crying and the pastor looked her in her eyes. The pastor said ‘What’s stopping you from just denying the garbage that’s out there and accepting what God has for you?’
All the lady could do is look at his face and say nothing. When she couldn’t say anything to him, I felt like that nothing was coming out of me. He looked at her and said, ‘For the money that’s nothing you’re going to give away what God has for you? For the sex that’s nothing you’re going to give away what God has for you? How much sex have you already had? How much liquor have you already had? How much money have you already had and you’re still up here crying? Obviously those things are nothing!’
I thought, ‘This dude is right. I got all the money I need. I got all the chicks I could want. And it’s still like what’s the point? It’s nothing.’ Something my father told me as a kid clicked. He said, ‘A wise man does not learn from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.’
I went on Facebook and made a post. I’m cancelling all my shows. I’ll pay yal back. It’s done. It’s a wrap. No parties. No nothing.
I always got a plan. This time I had nothing to tell anybody.
He has no regrets:
This last year has been great spiritually. I started going to Bible study. I got baptized in June. I got engaged in May [and married in November]. I’m more educated about my purpose and doing the will of God. I was doing too much wrong and it wasn’t just messing me up. I was bringing down people that could potentially benefit God.
With new change came new direction. As Skerrit Bwoy starts afresh, he is shifting to a new realm of EDM. He began producing Gospel EDM tracks and Gospel Hip Hop mash ups. The project is called Electric Gospel. His reintroduction to music has had its challenges but he doesn’t plan on stopping. From ‘Pon de Floor’ to ‘Pon de Cross’, the mission has changed, but the riddum has not.
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