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One Mic: Where Hip Hop and Catholicism meet(part one)

One Mic: Where Hip Hop and Catholicism meet(part one)

 
By:  Amazing Nation Guest Writer November 24, 2020
#AmazingNation, #Courage, #Faith, #Hope, #Strength

“Yo, all I need is one mic, one beat, one stage”

These words written by rapper, Nas, is how I lived a big portion of my life. Growing up in the Bronx, New York mixed with Puerto Rican and Dominican, and raised not speaking Spanish had me in a place searching for my identity. My elementary and middle school years were spent at an arts school in Harlem, where I found myself trying to find a “crowd” of kids to fit in with. The Latino kids wanted me to speak Spanish, and I was so light skinned that I was called “the white boy” by my Black peers. This left me to find my place in elementary school, I ended becoming best friends with Eric, one Korean boy, and Shomari, who was Jamaican. In addition to my friends, I would only express myself either in the art room or acting on stage.

In the first grade, my teacher asked us on a project about birds to do something creative about what we learned, and going home my uncle who was a DJ and my father who was into art, we had come up with the idea for me to write a rap verse. They found the instrumental to “Put your Hands Where My eyes can see” by Busta Rhymes and I wrote my first 16.

I can remember the day I was going in to present my project and how my father had dressed me up in a Jean jacket, Adidas, chains, and a durag so that I was ready to perform. My teacher loved my performance so much that she took me around for what felt like the next month to each class performing this verse.

This followed me all through elementary to middle school, and I would have lunchroom rap battles, and I was skipping class to go to the music room to record on the 4 track tape recorder my teacher had. I got in trouble a lot in middle school and after being suspended several times, but my Jewish English teacher, Ms. Keller saw my interest in writing and bought me Tupac’s poetry book.

Fast forward.
“... one girl and one crib
One God to show me how to do things His Son did Pure”


I was in high school and still some words to the song by Nas were etched into my identity. In my Freshman year, I found out my parents were splitting, and for a few months I didn’t see my dad except for some nights, where he was sleeping on the couch as my mom was “giving him time” to find a place. That same uncle had moved to New York and stored all his DJ equipment in my room so I started recording my first mixtapes which were later sold out of my locker and in Homeroom at school.

After my Mother decided to return to school, I had gotten a High School girlfriend, which proved to be a toxic relationship, but I latched on to her because it was my only source of affection. From my perspective at the time, all I had was her and rap. My High School was Catholic, and I was sent because my mom believed it was the better academic option, however, we had no concept of practicing faith or even less what it meant to truly have a relationship with God. For me, my only real prayer was the deep self reflection I found with beats I felt as my pen wrote to express some of the deepest pains in my soul into my composition notebook.

This was a dark time, where hope seemed dim for me, and looking back I spent most of these years in anger. I was frustrated with my home, with school, with the world, and with God. It was also the time where I asked some deep questions, and thanks be to God, although the administration did a poor job of reflecting Catholic values, I had some Religion teachers who planted some seeds of faith in my life.

This led me to becoming a part of the youth group started at a church down the street. Some connection to God and realization of who Jesus was began then to be revealed to me.

“One page, and one pen
One prayer - tell God forgive for one sin”
By 18 I was a father and this girlfriend I mentioned before became the mother of my child, and at age nineteen, we moved in together. This led to all kinds of drama and a tragic break up.... This is when breakthrough really started happening in my life.

Although things weren’t right in my life fully, a sister from the church invited me to help out with the youth group I was once a part of.... Then God started really tugging at my heart harder and it all started to fall into place.

At the same time, I had a coworker who was a Pentecostal youth minister, who introduced me to christian hip hop. And as I started to explore spirituality myself through a variety of ways(the story takes wild and deep turns here) God convicted me to the Eucharist and the Catholic Church.... And even more so, how he had given me a unique gift/mission to build bridges with the culture and our faith.

“All I need is one life, one try, one breath I'm one man
What I stand for speaks for itself, they don't understand...”


10 years later, I work for the church full time in youth ministry. I have a wife who is a convert to the Catholic faith, and have two children(a 12 year old boy, and 2 year old baby girl). Still as I have grown throughout it all, speaking to me to, through, and with a ministry of Hip Hop culture. There are many gaps the Trinity is filling in, but I was asked to write this blog, where together we will in future posts draw connections between my life, Hip Hop, and our rich/deep Catholic faith

Photo Credits:
"Ink Pens" by TMAB2003 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 "Fast Forward" by ElleFlorio is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 "Nas is in the House" by Erik Charlton is licensed under CC BY 2.0 "microphone" by TOM81115 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0



About the Author Amazing Nation Guest WriterAmazing Nation Guest Writers have submitted their blogs to us in hopes of encouraging others who may have had similar life experiences. They want to share hope and wisdom with every person who read their blogs.  


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