He storms onto the stage, grabs the microphone, and begins toperform. Each piece is full of bass, heavy percussion,accelerated samples, dancing, and the typical rap “call andresponse” that beckons the audience to put their hands up andscream.
However, this is not your typical rapconcert. Towards the end of his set, the audience membershave a chance to give their life to Christ. Just the thoughtof “souls being saved” brings a smile to Brandon “Reap”Stubbs’ face, because the 19-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native is notyour typical rapper.
Stubbs’ rap name “Reap,” which came from the”Grim Reaper” when he was a secular musician, now takes on a deepermeaning. It refers to being a reaper of souls.
In his crowded studio, a tower of textbooks is stacked in thecorner between a desk
and a twin bed. To his right, on the wall above his desk is acollage of pictures and flyers chronicling his musicalcareer. The photos in the collage are arranged neatly in theshape of a cross. Before sitting, he points to hiswindow. Resting on the windowsill across from his bed ishis most important text: his bible.
Sitting in his makeshift studio dorm room at Slowe Hall at HowardUniversity, Stubbs explains his ministry through music.
“It’s gospel tailored for the streets becausethere is already so much music aimed at the church. Itspurpose is to reach lost souls.”
However, his avenue of ministry has yet to reach mainstreamsuccess. According to Billboard.com’s Year in Music reviewfor 2003, there were no gospel rap artists listed in the top 200albums. But that does not stop him.
“Gospel music hasn’t blown up because God isn’t going to back upsomeone that’s mediocre,” Stubbs said, reclining in hischair. “He has to approve of every verse, every note. It has to be in His will 100 percent.”
Earlier this year, Stubbs released his album Its Real, whichdeals with issues that young people and Christians face such assexual immorality and spirituality. He even offers his ownpersonal testimony. Each song coincides with a biblical verseso that people can see how the word of God is real.
Shifting through the play lists on his laptophe clicks on the song “Victory.” The menacing string patternand ominous chimes flow through the speaker, as he talks about howhe started rapping.
“I started when I was 7 years old, around thetime when Dre and Snoop released The Chronic … butI really got into it at 13. That’s when I bought equipmentand at 14, I started making beats.”
Stubbs confessed that at first, he was agangster rapper. “I did gangsta rap,” he chuckles, revealingthat he wasn’t from the inner city but the suburbs ofCleveland. His demeanor quickly turns serious when he talksabout how God is using him “to reach the people from thestreets.”
In the song “Last Lap” he rhymes, “Then Godworked on my life/yo I went from gangster to conscious/ consciousto churchy/from churchy to street.”
“Roman Road” assaults his speakers with apowerful drum line that would fit perfectly with the high-octane”crunk music” that is currently in heavy rotation.
“Beats are important,” Stubbs said. “They draw people in and grab them.” And to his critics thatsay people might be distracted by the beat, he answers, “If you’redoing the right thing [people] can’t miss the message.”
He added, “I want people to get something outof my music in the same way that DMX has a certain lifestyle thathe lives but people who have never experienced that can
still get something out of it.” And that is the goal of hisministry.
Its Real is on sale now atwww.soundclick.com/reap.