[News] St. Louis’ Thi’sl more than a gospel rapper

By Kevin C. Johnson kjohnson@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8191

539828303d1ff.preview-620You can call St. Louis artist Thi’sl a gospel rapper if you like, but Thi’sl is just fine answering to rapper.

“I don’t have a problem with whatever people call me. I let them call me what they want,” says Thi’sl, who has a new album titled “Fallen King” that has charted on both Billboard and iTunes.

“I call it hip-hop. God has opened a wider door for me to go through. Giving it a tagline puts you in a box,” he says.

Thi’sl says his message is clear. Rapper Tef Poe “calls it quality street music. It is positive street music. It’s as hood as any hood record but has different messages. My music is too hood for some Christians.”

“Fallen King” is his follow-up to 2012’s “Free From the Trap.”

The roots of “Fallen King” started back in the rapper’s formative years growing up in the hood. When he looks around in the streets today, he sees the same mindset he saw then of boys and girls living and dying to be a part of something.

“They don’t have an identity. The first thing they see they jump on and grab onto it. And in most cases the things we cling to are the things destroying us,” says Thi’sl, who has been studying issues in the inner city.

“We know the top problems, the drugs, gangs, sexual promiscuity, lust and love for money,” he says. But he needed to look at what’s beneath all of that.

He says that long before blacks were slaves, they were kings and queens in Africa. When he sees today’s youth, “I see fallen kings, not drug dealers and killers, but people with the potential inside of them to be great but they don’t tap into it because they don’t know it’s there.”

One song on the album, “Keep Grinding,” pairs Thi’sl up with singer Brian Owens. “I make songs to encourage women because they’re the first nurturers of men. But I want to encourage the dudes as well. There are a lot of African-American men who love their women, love their kids, work jobs and aren’t selling dope. I want to highlight that stuff. That song points that out.”

“Inside Out” featuring Laquan Green talks about women and how their true beauty comes from within. “It’s not about all the stuff you possess and the kind of makeup you have on, though it can be cool to have nice stuff. But don’t let that define you.”

Some other guests on the album are Flame, J’Son, Marz, Nonna, Cory Paul and Swade.

Thi’sl is seeing his biggest success yet with the new album. Though he has charted on the likes of Billboard and iTunes before, he hasn’t hit as many charts there as he did this time around.

“It’s a good feeling, especially with me doing the type of music that I do,” he says. “My music is positive with a strong faith-based message. I think about when I started out doing music and just having people constantly say it ain’t gonna work.”

The biggest issues back then, about a decade ago, surprisingly didn’t revolve around his positive messages, which can have a tough time finding their way to mainstream success.

He was told repeatedly by record labels and DJs that the production and mixing on his earlier music weren’t up to par.

“I took the critiques to heart. I didn’t write them off. I have better production and mixing now. But the people who said no, period, were discouraging. But I let it motivate me,” he says. “Now it feels good to see all my hard work and energy working.”

Thi’sl will follow up his album soon with a mixtape he’ll pass out with contributions from the likes of Scarface and Aloha.

Original Article: http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/music/kevin-johnson/st-louis-thi-sl-more-than-a-gospel-rapper/article_63027b84-4d97-5f5f-8f7a-9283aafb64d6.html

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