I felt like I had finally found my home – or so I thought.
My first few months in battle rap were great. I was building relationships, having fun in battles, showing people Christ through my words and actions, and the views started rolling in.
To put it in perspective, I was a local artist who had never done a music video at this point. I was used to a video on my YouTube channel getting (maybe) 200 views. Now, I was pulling in close to 10,000 or more views on a battle. I’ll admit, I was feeling it. I knew that more wins, views, bigger names, and love from everyone was coming soon.
Well…. Not quite.
The league that was providing thousands of views, Grind Time Now, was falling apart. I had been caught up in the oversaturation and ended up overlooked by a lot of battle fans. On top of that, I didn’t feel I got the push from this league and other leagues that could’ve helped me go to the next level.
Despite that, I pressed on. I started winning battles more and more.
In early 2012, I had what became my biggest viewed battle. 3PFD vs. LSP (aka “Christian Rapper vs. Atheist Rapper”) was a heavily contested battle, which now has almost 400,000 views on YouTube. Crazy because I almost didn’t take this battle. LSP was a shock value artist with A LOT of foul content, both in music in battles. After I was asked to battle him, I googled him and found he had a mixtape called “I Murdered Jesus Christ”. My first thought was, “No Way I’m giving him time to disrespect God like that.” However, my curiosity got the better of me, and I started to watch LSP battles.
As I watched, I wrote bars for him. As I wrote bars, my feelings on battling him changed. I prayed on it, and decided to go forward with the battle. It got rescheduled a few times, but it was finally set to go down in DC at the final Grind Time DMV event.
I felt I had my best stuff yet for LSP. I was ready to both shut down his shock value bars and hit back with hard hitting lines. Most battles I looked at as competition that wasn’t personal, but I wanted to beat this dude. In my mind, he messed with the wrong Christian rapper. Hey, I told y’all I’m being honest on this blog.
The Battle was about a week away. I was praying, and I asked God if I was ready for this, specifically if I was prepared for all the vile things he’d say. I felt the Holy Spirit impress on my thoughts, “what’s the worst thing he could say to you.”. I thought, “he could talk about my mom (who I lost to suicide when I was 13).” I felt God say, “get ready for it.”
Fast forward to battle day.
LSP brought up my dead mother in the battle. Did I cry? Get enraged? Walk away? No, I felt the peace of God all over me. I remember almost laughing at him because I thought, “Wow, God really set you up.” My bars in that battle hit like a ton of bricks, and I won a unanimous decision. I was pumped.
You can see 3PFD vs. LSP (Christian Rapper vs. Atheist Rapper) here (Warning, explicit language from opponent and ads, not recommended for children, puppies, and leprechauns): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8272xA5ZHy0
After the LSP battle, I took MANY battles on several leagues hoping one of these leagues would invest in me and push me to the next level. I also reached out to King of the Dot, one of the world’s biggest battle rap leagues, over the next year or so, but we were never able to set me up with a GZ battle (GZ is the equivalent to the top minor league in baseball).
Each failed attempt to “make it” in battling drained me more and more. By this point, most of the views I was getting in my early days had significantly dwindled. My “name” in battle rap had been forgotten; or had it never been established in the first place?
My music wasn’t going far either.
I was struggling to release my second album while wrestling with doubt. I tried to release a music video along with some battles I did, and I got trolled heavily. I tried not to let it, but it bothered me. This battle rap community that once brought me so much joy was now rejecting and overlooking me.
Now some of you more spiritual folks may be saying that I shouldn’t have been looking to them for my joy and acceptance. I should have been looking to Christ for my identity and not battle rap, as I had been. You’re not wrong; however, it was tough because I was wrestling with jadedness towards church. I felt like I did not belong, even in my home church. It was tough because I prayed about it, and I did not feel released to leave. However, I watched most of my peer group either move, go to other churches, or leave church all together. I also tried to find support for what I was doing as a Christian Hip-Hop artist from my church, but most of the time I was being misunderstood or pushed to the background.
In addition to the struggles with church, I was also dealing with struggles with how I was relating to, or not relating to, my local Christian hip-hop community. When I started battle rapping, I thought very few Christians and Christian MCs would understand what God was calling me to do. In my anxiety, I backed away from many in my local scene, including people I called friends. I also stopped building with my many national connections I had made in CHH. I didn’t help that people in my local scene asked my studio engineer if I was backsliding or if I still loved Christ. These same people didn’t ask me and gossiped which didn’t sit well.
Jaded towards church, feeling rejected and ostracized by my local CHH scene (and CHH as a whole), battle career caught in a loop and making little progress, what was I to do? Would I fall victim to self-pity, circumstances, and putting my identity in the wrong place? Or, would I overcome, grow in Christ, and find peace and contentment?
Find out next time….