A couple months ago I surprised everyone by announcing a brand new album, “上升.” You don’t understand how hard it was to keep quiet about it before my label and I went public. The album had been in the works for over a year, and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone — especially those who kept asking when I was dropping something new.
The response so far has been deeply encouraging. I’m amazed that people have continued to support me even though I’ve been pretty quiet for the last two years. Your love and excitement has only increased mine.
One of the responses I wasn’t surprise by was this one: “Wait, I thought you retired?” This is the question that follows me around like a shadow. I’ve addressed it in interviews, tweets, and blog posts, but I know it’s still unclear to some. Let me continue to try to set the record straight: I never retired.
In 2012, I announced that I’d be “stepping away from music.” Yes, I know that sounds retirement-ish, but I purposely didn’t use that word. I kept it intentionally vague because I wasn’t 100% sure what it would look like.
I knew it was possible that “The Good Life” was my last album, but I wasn’t sure. Here’s what I did know: there would be a huge priority shift that would drastically change how I related to music. I wouldn’t be out on the road with my fellow emcees as much. I wouldn’t be able to crank out a bunch of new music. I wouldn’t be a full time rapper. I knew I wanted to help pastor God’s church.
Since that time, I’ve been serving at my church in Washington D.C. in various pastoral roles. I’ve done admin work, preaching and teaching, youth ministry, marital counseling, etc. I went months without doing any shows or writing a single bar of a song because of church responsibilities. I even sat out the 2013 Unashamed Tour. And though I missed creating new music, I love what I’ve been doing. Health issues have made it challenging at times, but it’s been a rewarding season for my family and me.
After that first year of full-time pastoral ministry, I decided to slowly begin working on a new record. My creative juices had been bottled up, and I was ready to go. But instead of a five or six month burst of non-stop writing and recording, this album was slow and steady since music wasn’t my full time job. That worked out great because I could slowly craft each song, and get it as close to perfection as possible.
I decided to work with one producer this time, instead of accepting track submissions from a bunch of different guys. When I brought the idea to Gawvi he loved it, and we pushed each other to make something incredible. Every trip I made to Atlanta was crucial because it was so hard to get away from family and church duties. But here we are over a year later, and it’s almost out!
I know some people are still confused about what to expect from me in the future. There are many unknowns for me, but I’ll tell you what I do know:
– I still want to be a pastor.
– I still want to do music.
– I still want to travel to rap and speak.
– I still want to write books.
And I’m trying to find out how or if I can do all of those things in a way that honors God, while still being faithful to my family and God’s church.
Will “上升” be my last album? It could be, but I hope not. For now, I want to enjoy the moment and share with you all what I think is my best work yet. A lot has changed since 2012, but one thing remains the same: Jesus is Lord, and I want to honor Him with my music.