Cartersville hip-hop artists deliver positive message for today's youth
by Marie Nesmith
Oct 08, 2010 | 3277 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hip-hop artist Darnell “Jac Rip” Jackson Jr. performs at the Georgia World Congress Center in September. SPECIAL
Hip-hop artist Darnell “Jac Rip” Jackson Jr. performs at the Georgia World Congress Center in September. SPECIAL
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For hip-hop artists Vince "iDie" Carr and Darnell "Jac Rip" Jackson Jr., music is more than a rhythmic beat and catchy lyrics. It is a vehicle to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and enhance the lives of area youth.

"I'm a hip-hop artist but first and foremost I'm a servant," Carr said. "My music, I would have to say it's energetic. It has the crowd moving and it keeps them entertained. But at the same time it gives them a positive message and as they sing the lyrics with me, and repeat the chorus or as they interact with the songs, whether they realize it or not we're pumping Jesus into their veins."

In the past five years, about 1,000 teenagers have dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ during concerts, which Carr performs and produces through his Can You Hear Me Ministries.

"Our goal is to go out and show people a relative God, and on top of that for Christians [to] get ... excited about God, especially young people. And with that we also disciple them," said Carr, a 28-year-old Cartersville resident, who formed CYHM Ministries in 2002 with his wife, Rena. "We show them how to go out and share their faith in a format that is not threatening or pushy or over their head. It's just something that anyone can do. They can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"And the way we do this is through high energy shows and we have a label under the ministry, White House Records. We have artists that travel all over the country. We have contemporary artists. We have pop. We have other hip-hop artists, and they just go out and they share the love of Jesus Christ. We travel everywhere. ... Our main focal point is just sharing the love of Jesus Christ, whether it's through music or just through our speaking. That's our main focal point. [It] is getting people excited about Jesus."

Along with performing music from their latest CDs, musicians on CYHM Ministries' concert tours talk about their lives and share the message of Christ. Starting Oct. 15, the Cartersville artists will embark on a seven-stint tour at Florida churches, with Carr singing some songs from his "Farewell to Self" CD and Jackson sampling his "Testimony" album. Following the first leg, the tour -- titled Farewell to Self/Testimony -- will continue with to-be-determined locations in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, before heading out west.

"Basically with me, I just try to tell them about growing up in a single-parent household, moving down here to Georgia when I was only like 15 and the culture shock that I had to go through and how I made it through those situations," Jackson said. "A lot of our music is positive-themed but we also talk to them about Jesus and just going to church and having faith and just letting them know that the situation that they're in now is just temporary.

"If I can make it through my situation, they can make it through theirs. No matter how hard or rough it may seem now, there's always a better day as long as they just try to stay focused, make goals and just plan on being able to reach those goals."

Like Jackson, Carr also came from a single-parent home and was searching for a father figure for years.

"My mother and father got a divorce when I was 7 years old," Carr said. "In the beginning my father was very involved in my life but then my father got addicted to drugs and alcohol really, really bad. He slipped out of my life and I went through a time when I didn't look up to any guy because I felt like any guy I looked up to was going to let me down.

"When I finally decided I've got to find a father figure, I looked up to my grandfather. Instantaneously it felt like God took him away because he passed away of cancer. When he passed away I was 14 years old and I went on a rebellion phase. I wanted to try every bad thing out there in the streets and I did it. And it took a tragic incident in my life -- a buddy of mine getting shot and other friends of mine going to jail -- for me to realize that God's got a bigger and better calling for you."

Independently released by Jackson's label Baby Mob Entertainment in July, "Testimony" features 12 or 13 songs, depending on if one purchases a digital or physical copy. While "Testimony" is similar to his earlier music as far as being positive, it does not contain adult content. The departure, he said, was due to maturity, his walk with God and he wanted to create music that younger fans could listen to and enjoy.

"Some people would call my new CD 'Christian hip-hop or holy hip-hop' and that's cool with them calling it that but really it has much more of a broader message than to just box it in as Christian rap or hip-hop or anything like that," Jackson said. "With me going out to Without Walls [International of Cartersville] and doing other revivals at other churches, I have everything from my 3- [and] 4-year-old nieces and nephews singing my lyrics to 81-year-old ladies who've never listened to rap come and buy my CD after they see a performance. So we've been able to reach a broad spectrum of people ... There's a song on the CD that everybody can relate to, that someone's going to get a positive message out of it."

Along with singing at churches, Jackson feels led to lend his talents to help those in shelters or behind bars.

"I don't think that a person needs to wait until they become a celebrity figure or a semi-celebrity before they believe it's time to just give back. I believe in giving back to the community because it's just the right thing to do. I wish I had certain people with me coming up as a young African-American male in the community. I wish I had better role models that I could look up or people that were willing to talk to me and just give me some of their time. That's really important with the young people of all ethnicities, even with the residents of [Clayton County's jail]. I went and talked to them and did a free concert for them.

"It was to let them know they're paying their debt to society and that you've got to be able to be willing to let them have a second chance and let them know that they are not forgotten about. I had one of the residents at the facility [send] me an e-mail like two or three weeks after I finished doing the show. He let me know that he appreciated me talking to him like a man and not like an inmate and that my music was really positive and it influenced him. He just got released and he already enrolled in a two-year college. The next time he sends me an e-mail he's going to be doing a lot better for society and for his life. Something like that really touches you and lets you know that I'm doing this for a good reason. I have a purpose with this."

For more information about or to host the Farewell to Self/Testimony tour when it returns to Georgia, visit www.farewelltoself.com or call 404-247-8399. Both costing $10, "Testimony" can be purchased at Open Door Bookstore in Cartersville, via 38 online retailers and at www.myspace.com/jacrip; and "Farewell to Self" can be obtained at www.farewelltoself.com or www.reverbnation.com/idie.