Each year, the world is introduced to new artists that bring something refreshing and innovative to music. This year, the world has been honored to welcome an upcoming artist known as “Sir the Baptist.” Representing Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood in Chicago, the 27-year-old has a unique sound that resonates with people from all age groups, ethnicities and social backgrounds.
His hit single “Raise Hell” already has over 1 million plays on Spotify. He’s worked with artists such as Chance the Rapper and Twista, and performed live on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Although he identifies as a hip-hop artist, it is undeniable that he infuses gospel, soul and pop in his music as well. His unique sound makes it impossible to be categorized into a single genre of music. Growing up in the church and struggling with the act of balancing his religious beliefs and his hip-hop influences, Sir discusses some of the harsh realities of what it is like to grow up in the church, in addition to staying true to his own identity.
Savon Slater: For those who may not know, who is Sir the Baptist?
Sir The Baptist: Sir the Baptist is a preacher’s kid that grew up in Bronzeville. Growing up in the church I had a lot of positive influences, but I also saw a lot of the craziness that happens in church. All of the scandals and shit like that. Even though I was in the church, I was still listening to hip hop but I had to sing gospel in church every single day. When your dad is the pastor there’s at least 4-5 services a week and you have to sing for all of them. And if a musician doesn’t show up, I had to learn each instrument in order to play in their place.
Savon Slater: There are obviously a lot of successful musicians that come from Chicago, would you say they influenced your music; if not them, then who?
Sir The Baptist: Well I’m from Bronzeville. You have to specifically say Bronzeville. It’s in Chicago but there’s only one great rapper from Bronzeville (Laughs out loud) nah I’m just joking. But yeah, Bronzeville is what made me and is where the story really is. To answer your question though some of my influences are Thomas A. Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole. Thomas A. Dorsey is also from Bronzeville and made Gospel music what it is today.
Savon Slater: In the music industry expressing your faith in religion is sometimes frowned upon. Usually hip-hop and gospel don’t mix well. How have you learned to use it to your advantage?
Sir The Baptist: I just try to be honest. I don’t get to the studio and be like “yo God loves you, if you don’t love God then somethings wrong with you.” Like nah man, I don’t do that cause that’s when it becomes corny. I’d rather be honest and be like “we got bottles poppin” and it feels like heaven.” I have a song called “Deliver Me” that talks about how a deacon in the church used to beat the shit out of my sister and nobody in the church said anything. Keep in mind my dad was the pastor. It’s that type of stuff, we just have to keep it real.
Savon Slater: Wow ! That’s a tough situation to be put in. I’m sure that particular situation had to disturb you. Did that push you away from the church?
Sir The Baptist: It didn’t do that at all. It just means I have to fix it. It’s not just Baptist [churches], it’s things like that going on in the Catholic church and other religions as well.
Savon Slater: There was a statement that you made in a previous article saying that you are “anti-religion, not anti-God.” Could you elaborate on that?
Sir The Baptist: Most people think I’m anti-God, but nah I’m all about God, Jesus and spirituality. But I hate religion. Religion is politics. It’s the organization part of the church. A church is a legit company. If you go to the hood, there’s at least 20 churches; it’s a church on every block. It’s a profitable business. Taking people’s money and not offering them anything but hope. I don’t like to say it but the only way to get past it is to be honest.
Savon Slater: So basically Sir the Baptist isn’t into sugarcoating how he feels about religion?
Sir The Baptist: No, I’m not into sugarcoating. For my single “Raise Hell” the cover art is a picture of Jesus taking a mugshot and people get upset. And I’m like “Did he (Jesus) not go to jail?” He went to jail. And during that time he was viewed as a “bad guy” but in hindsight was trying to deliver the greatest message.
Savon Slater: You’re a hip-hop artist but still have a message you’re trying to convey. What is the message you want your listeners to receive?
Sir The Baptist: I just want them to have fun listening. I can’t get any message to you if you aren’t having fun while listening to my music. I want you to enjoy the music before trying to receive a message. I’m an artist and a musician and I just want you to have fun.
Savon Slater: Speaking of fun, that was a word I used to describe your song “Wake Up”-which talks about a lot of social issues that are taking place- but it’s still a fun song to listen to.
Sir The Baptist: A lot of the time people hear church or religion and it can sometimes be uncomfortable to listen to and that’s why they don’t fuck with it. [If] it’s not relatable, it’s just not fun to listen to. Most of the time being relatable is being fun. I say some really harsh shit on “Wake Up,” and if you go back and listen there’s some truth but it’s some truths that people are uncomfortable with.
Savon Slater: Your upcoming album is titled “PK”, which stands for “Preacher’ Kid”. What should your fans and new audience expect on this album?
Sir The Baptist: Testimony service. In a very radio-friendly way with uncomfortable messages underneath it.
Savon Slater: I feel you’re on the brink of national success. How far away do you believe you are from national success?
Sir The Baptist: I’m not that far. I have a lot of projects in the works. I’m composing music for a movie called “Birth of a Nation” which stars Nate Parker. It’s a contender for an Oscar. So yeah I don’t think I’m too far from it.
Savon Slater: Well with that being said thank you for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add or put out there for people to know?
Sir The Baptist: Shoutout to Deedpin.com, it’s a new organization that I started with a nurse from South-Western Hospital. It’s a site where you can pin good deeds for those to see.