‘Get Your Prayz On' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

‘Get Your Prayz On'

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Holy hip-hop artist TwiceborN during a performance for his daughter's birthday party.

It was a Saturday night in Clinton. A police car cautiously circled the Holiday Inn Express parking lot, wary of the thumping beats emanating from a rear entrance. A heavyset man shuffled out to meet the cruiser; he might have seemed imposing if not for the rapturous smile that never left his face.

"How ya doin'?" he called out with good cheer. The cops recognized him, gave a wave and moved along, confident that all was good at the motel tonight.

Those thumping beats traced a path back to the birthday party of 8-year-old Di'Mariya Baskin. By all appearances, the setting resembled any other pre-teen affair: Festive birthday bunting hung over aluminum trays filled with hot links, chili, cheese and chips. Children in pink shirts and sparkles filled the room, and a rising mountain of gifts overtook a table against the back wall. The scene seemed incongruous with the heavy rhythm tracks pumping through the small room, but perhaps that's the point of a holy hip-hop party.

Headlining the event was Di'Mariya's father, Di'Marco Baskin—aka TwiceborN—a friend of Clinton cops and a nationally renowned Christian rapper. After the attendees were all accounted for, he took center stage with his fellow holy hip-hoppers Wun80 and True.

Wun80, the most introspective of the three, opened with a frank personal monologue titled "Dark into Light." In it, Wun80 detailed his own troubled past, admitting that "I stole and lied / I've got personalities like Jekyll and Hyde," but now "I'm so ecstatic that I'm living on this side."

True's inspired energy and blistering delivery fired up the crowd in "You Can't See Me," warning potential beelzebubs that "I'm a soul go getter / and I go get 'em / I bag down devils / and whoever roll wit' em." Every young partygoer was dancing on stage by the time TwiceborN sang his infectious "Get Your Prayz On." They eagerly followed his instructions to "Move ya feet / Clap yo hands / Praise the Lord / Do ya Dance."

Even the most cynical spectators seemed moved by the emotional intensity of it all, a raw candor that could only come from deep experiential wells. TwiceborN, Wun80 and True all began as secular rappers, and each fell hard before picking themselves up. Wun80 began his life as Martez Cobb, and rapped under the name Brick.

"My granddaddy gave me that name. … I was hardheaded," he says.

Born again as Brickdabelieva, he found a new outlet for his stubbornness, and the switch to Wun80 allowed a more decisive break from his past.

True followed a similar path. Born Tyler Jiles, he once rapped as Tyler B, before getting so messed up, in his words, that "I wanted to die. … I walked out into a busy street and something, God, pulled me back."

TwiceborN released his secular CD in 2003 as DBoy Caprice. He, too, lived a "fast life" with drugs and gambling. But after their transformations, none of the three was able to give up their musical gifts. TwiceborN recalls that after returning to the church, for some time he wanted nothing to do with hip-hop. "When I first got into the church, rapping was the last thing I wanted to do," TwiceborN says. "But after about a year in the church, God told me to go write a song."

That song, "Wonderful Life," launched his new career in holy hip-hop. True felt the same way, and after his conversion, he prayed to God: "I don't want to let this gift you gave me go."

True, Wun80 and TwiceborN all have no doubts that a genre traditionally associated with decidedly unreligious behavior can serve as an effective vehicle for their ministries. Wun80 argues that "I didn't know God was OK with hip-hop, but then he told me that he made hip-hop, too." TwiceborN, the irrepressible wordsmith, says, "If I am crossing over by doing this genre of music, at least when I crossover I'm bringing the cross over."

The party-going youngsters didn't seem too concerned about the finer points of cultural syncretism. After the show, the kids tucked into their chili dogs. Some adult skeptics bore the grins of the newly converted while others still couldn't stop moving. The conversation in the parking lot revolved around God, hip-hop and when the next party could bring the two together again.

As evidenced by Di'Mariya's party, central Mississippi already can claim a budding holy hip-hop scene. Where it goes next is anybody's guess—not that people like TwiceborN bother with such petty mortal predictions. Still in the infancy of his career, he's already performed onstage with Kurtis Blow at the Holy Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta. He's a deacon of his church in Clinton, and his CD is scheduled for release this summer. Still, he demurs with characteristic humility: "I'm just trying to keep up with all the places God is taking me," he says.

Visit http://www.myspace.com/meettwiceborn.com to hear TwiceborN's music.

Previous Comments

ID
147057
Comment

Yay, I'm so glad you guys did an article on Twice Born. I was fortunate enough to write a blurb about his place in the BOJ 2009. Not to mention I went to high school with the guy and he has been a permanent fixture in my life since. (Thank God). Watch this guy, folks, he's the real deal and worthy of this article and all the blessings to follow.

Author
Queen601
Date
2009-05-07T14:22:51-06:00
ID
148136
Comment

There is no God!

Author
DrumminD21311
Date
2009-05-24T02:52:13-06:00
ID
148138
Comment

What is your understanding of God Drummin? If your argument is simply one of negation, it rings as hollow as emptiness. Of course, many in the world view God as Emptiness and some translate Emptiness as Openness. Is there no Openness?

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2009-05-24T08:36:54-06:00
ID
148139
Comment

i am excited that there is a holy hip hop scene. Despite not being a Christian, there is much to be admired by those practicing the Christian faith. i'm excited to see Twice Born using his talents as a platform to promote positive growth in our communities. i wonder if this writer did justice to the Clinton police department in stating that they were automatically wary of what appeared to be a hip hop concert in their city. i certainly hope this is not true, although common wisdom and personal accounts of their actions speak to the contrary.

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2009-05-24T08:40:02-06:00
ID
148145
Comment

Is there no "openness?" What are you talking about?! I'm saying there's no man floating around in space that controls people's lives, that you can can talk to if you put your head down and clasp your hands together and think really hard.

Author
DrumminD21311
Date
2009-05-24T19:07:12-06:00
ID
148149
Comment

I presume you won't mind if those of us who don't believe like you keep living our lives as we see fit?

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-05-24T23:05:53-06:00
ID
148150
Comment

Sure, as long as you stop oppressing others in the name of your God, such as denying gay people the rights to serve in the military and get married.

Author
DrumminD21311
Date
2009-05-24T23:07:43-06:00
ID
148151
Comment

Why not? Doesn't threaten my marriage any.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2009-05-24T23:53:28-06:00
ID
148152
Comment

Well go hit up your boy James Dobson and let him know.

Author
DrumminD21311
Date
2009-05-24T23:55:40-06:00
ID
148153
Comment

drummin, i can understand and sympathize with your point of view. i'm not a fan of the "church folk" myself having been screwed over one too many times. frankly, not even a god fan these days. but one thing i do know: james dobson or the american family association or the like don't speak for most mainstream believers. true, their backwards distorted views of god and of christianity seem to be a loud clanging cymbal that stains the average believer's rep. but you can't truly lump the everyday believer in with the outrageously narrow minded. message to those who call themselves christians: stand up for what's right, not what james dobson, your pastor, or even your mama tells you to stand up for. period. do what is right (and by the way, compassionate and christlike.)

Author
2599
Date
2009-05-25T03:33:11-06:00
ID
148154
Comment

When i invoke the name "God", for me that references Openness. It is a Tibetan understanding of that which is pervasive and absolute. "God" if you will. As someone who stands so contrary to the bible-thumpin', oppressive Christian sects, i am surprised that you are so controlled by their definition of the term. So much so that you would deny the existence of some omnipresent force. An omnipresent force which i believe is Openness.

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2009-05-25T08:02:46-06:00
ID
148159
Comment

The social forces James Dobson and company are messing with have to do with tradition, gender roles, sexuality, the old social order, and the subtext of race and class. Religion is just the fig leaf they use to cover it up because they know that there is no effective way to criticize religion, just as there is no effective way to criticize art. There is a wonderfully absurd line in the Chalcedonian Creed about God being "one incomprehensible, not three incomprehensibles." How the hell do you tell the difference? I like the Carl Sagan line (quoted in the book I did for the University Press) about how if someone tells you they believe or don't believe in God, you've learned nothing about them because it's such a nebulous concept. Or about how he can't understand why atheists and theists alike tend to be so confident when the topic of a God is so far outside of available scientific data as to inspire very little confidence.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-05-25T09:28:33-06:00
ID
148160
Comment

Drummin, I also sympathize with your position. But you painted yourself into a rhetorical corner with your simple assertion that "There is no God!" You can't prove that statement anymore than your opponents can prove the reverse. So you have fallen into the trap that theists have. You have accepted something based on belief rather than evidence. A simple retort of, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" takes the wheels off your position. That won't do with someone who has abdicated their rational cognitive abilities for the comfort of belief in an irrational bronze age myth. Most Christians, which I believe you are directing your comments towards, are what I call ala carte Christians they pick and choose what they believe out of their bible. A surprising number, it seems, have never read the book all the way through. Instead, they prefer to have their pastor or priest guide them through the highlights that they choose to make relevant and just ignore the rest. Westboro Baptist church in Topeka Kansas actually follows what is written in the Bible and the result is one of the most repugnant congregations that exists anywhere. They are the church that demonstrates at Military funerals, you know, the "god hates fags" people. Most normal people are repulsed by their own religion in action but they still cling to what they have grown up believing. No matter how hypocritical it is to believe that if God existed and wrote a rule book you could just pick what rules you liked and ignore what you didn't.

Author
WMartin
Date
2009-05-25T10:06:38-06:00
ID
148161
Comment

Eh, the Westboro people pick and choose, too. I don't see them getting up in arms over blood sausage and blood pudding, when the taboo on consuming blood warrants explicit mention in the Acts 15 moral code and homosexuality does not. Likewise, the "render unto Caesar" declaration would seem to cast doubt on the whole "God hates America" protest concept--did the Disciples go around waving picket signs reading "God hates Rome"? And that was after the Roman government crucified Jesus and martyred most of the Disciples, for crying out loud. And don't forget the prohibition on ostentatious displays of piety, from Matthew 6, which would seem to apply to Westboro more than to most. And at what point did they sell all that they have and give it to the poor? Westboro isn't really any more biblical than John Spong or Bart Ehrman; it just emphasizes different parts of the Bible. The nasty bits, mostly. And to a certain extent you sort of have to take an a la carte approach to the Bible because it is itself an a la carte compilation. Smoothing over the paradoxes alone requires considerable theological legwork, and good luck taking a literal approach to the Revelation and the Parables. The Bible just doesn't lend itself well to a 20th-century literalist approach, which is no big surprise since it was not written in the 20th century and it's doubtful that very much of it was written by literalists. It was never supposed to be Aristotle, except in the minds of the post-Aristotelians. I see the Bible as a sort of Rorschach test. People find what they're looking for in it. If you have a raging bigot who wants the world to be just like it was in 1935, or worse, then s/he'll find a mandate for it in the Bible. If you have a living saint who dreams of love manifest on Earth, then s/he'll find a mandate for it in the Bible. A person's approach to interpreting the Bible tells us more about that person than it does about the Bible.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-05-25T10:15:37-06:00
ID
148163
Comment

I think drummin just wants to agitate people. Not gonna work. However, I will tell you that Dobson is not "my boy." As Christians, we do have the right to disagree with other Christians, and we do disagree quite frequently. That's why there are so many different denominations. Unless you know me, drummin, how would you know what I believe and if I aligned with Dobson or not? I'll believe what I choose to, and you believe what you choose to. I'm not going to convince you that God does exist, just as you won't convince me that He doesn't. Oh, and back to the article: daniel, I'm afraid the Clinton PD was portrayed fairly in this article. I have seen this kind of thing happen more than once. My experience with the Clinton PD is that they are extremely racist.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2009-05-25T12:21:38-06:00
ID
148164
Comment

[quote]Sure, as long as you stop oppressing others in the name of your God, such as denying gay people the rights to serve in the military and get married. [/quote] Come on! I was having fun oppressing people and sending them to the lion pits! Seriously, dude. If you have a problem or want to debate bring facts, not stereotypes. You sound like a young kid who just discovered atheism.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-05-25T12:39:38-06:00
ID
148165
Comment

How is the Clinton PD making a normal patrol through the parking lot of a hotel (like they do every few hours) and slowing down to check out loud music racist? It's their job to check things out. They have no idea if it's a private party or a bunch of loud drunks disturbing other hotel guest.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-05-25T13:48:43-06:00
ID
148166
Comment

Im Church Of God In Christ but i do think the conservative christains are giving Christianity a bad name, sarah palin is a prime example, also some conservative Christians in Mississippi who hate people because of the color of their skin but still think they on their way to heaven.

Author
NewJackson
Date
2009-05-25T15:00:00-06:00
ID
148172
Comment

BubbaT: Good point. I just remember which people were and weren't being stopped when Home Depot moved to Clinton. Out of all the overnight crew, the Clinton PD stopped all but one: my husband, who happened to be the only non-minority working there.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2009-05-26T09:56:18-06:00
ID
148180
Comment

Awesome! Some retorts: "I think drummin just wants to agitate people. Not gonna work." Actually, it did work. Look at all the responses I got! Yes I do want to agitate people. Religion freedom is a topic important to me, and I want it discussed. Agitation is the tool I use to accomplish this objective. Malcolm X also quite successfully used this tactic. "Seriously, dude. If you have a problem or want to debate bring facts, not stereotypes." It's a fact that gay marriage is illegal in most states, not a stereotype. It's a fact that people can't openly profess their sexual orientation, and sometimes even their faith in the military, not a stereotype. It's a fact that the Supreme Court upheld anti-sodomy laws because sodomy doesn't meet the standard of "Judeo-Christian values." It's a fact that gays and lesbians are openly ridiculed and beaten on a regular basis. It's a fact that every President and almost all members of Congress are theists, with a couple of exceptions, because if they professed any other viewpoint they would not be voted in. It's a fact that we almost elected a Vice-President that believes Jesus is coming down within 30 years to pluck up all his followers in a magical ceremony, while my ass gets sent to hell for eternal torture. "You can't truly lump the everyday believer in with the outrageously narrow minded." I can when I don't see "ya'll" speaking up for what you supposedly believe is the true Word of God, not the one preached on TBN and Fox News. Start a "rational-minded empathetic mainstream" believer network, and get as large an audience as Bill O'Reilly commands, and I'll give you some props. "There is no God!" You can't prove that statement anymore than your opponents can prove the reverse. So you have fallen into the trap that theists have. You have accepted something based on belief rather than evidence. A simple retort of, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" takes the wheels off your position." I am not the typical atheist trying to appeal to reason, which I picture sitting in a study , with 3 phDs, looking rather smug and smoking a pipe, chuckling "Oh yeah, prove it." I "believe" there is no God, just because the whole concept of a God seems completely absurd to me, and I have noticed so many flaws with EVERY religion's explanation for the natural order of the world. I was formerly a Christian, but my faith fell apart, because my extremely analytical brain could not hold on to it. It stopped making sense. Maybe I am wrong, maybe there is a God, but until he stops me from shouting that he doesn't exist, I'll keep on shouting. "My experience with the Clinton PD is that they are extremely racist." Clinton PD are just plain mean. I'm white and have been harassed by them several times. Most cops are just mean by nature. They are mean people, so they take a job where they legally get to harass people everyday. It's paradise for them. If they don't like black people, hey, they get to mess with them too!!

Author
DrumminD21311
Date
2009-05-26T17:26:06-06:00
ID
148187
Comment

Maybe I am wrong, maybe there is a God, but until he stops me from shouting that he doesn't exist, I'll keep on shouting. That's a bold statement. Even I, who consider myself a non-practicing believer, (what's with the referring to me as "ya'll?!") am not bold enough to say that. But then that's me. Drummin, you and I may have more in common than you think. I am not of the "I couldn't wrap my mind around it" camp so much as I am in the "if God is real, why does so much bad sh*% happen (and why has so much happened to me)" school of thought. Unfortunately, rational minded, empathetic believers don't have the platform or the money of Fox and crew or even Sarah Palin. But I know there are those out there who you seek to look to as examples of real Christ-like love. Believe me, and again I say, I empathize with you more than you realize. I am not a Bible thumper, and would be the last to tell you "I'll pray for you" because that's something I haven't done in a long time. What I will say is to look at organizations like BloodWaterMission.org and you can clearly see examples of Christian love being shown. Now I know you may say "this is just good people doing good things." Maybe true, but these are people who do what they do in the name of Jesus. And they're not on the "anti-gay" bandwagon. They do what the Jesus of the Bible did: love unselfishly, without motive, and for the greater cause.

Author
2599
Date
2009-05-26T20:25:45-06:00
ID
148189
Comment

"Sure, as long as you stop oppressing others in the name of your God, such as denying gay people the rights to serve in the military and get married. posted by DrumminD21311 on 05/25/09 at 12:07 AM" Be an example by not oppressing others who choose to believe in God. If you don't believe in God, then you don't get the point of this article, which is to chronicle a local religious event. To come in and announce that there is no God here is inappropriate, if not outright oppressive.

Author
L Hall
Date
2009-05-26T20:54:03-06:00
ID
148190
Comment

I don't think it would be oppressive it didn't target a thread about somebody who's getting too little press instead of too much--Drummin, I wish you'd saved this particular argument for somebody who deserved your anger more. This guy was just doing a birthday party for his daughter. He's not your enemy. And I'm definitely agnostic, but going into a random thread and saying "I don't believe in God" strikes me as vaguely narcissistic. Pro-humanism is stronger than anti-theism as an argument, anyway. Argue from anthropology up, not from divinity down, and you'll get traction with people who disagree with you on the metaphysical details but share your priorities--which is to say the majority of the college-educated population, denominational labels aside. Albert Camus got this, Jean-Paul Sartre did not, and that's one of the reasons why people read Camus and only pretend to read Sartre.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-05-26T21:37:59-06:00

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