Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Urban missionary' shares beliefs through rap

ST. PETERSBURG — Marcus Williams wants young people to think he's cool.

But he isn't looking for peer acceptance or a way to boost his own popularity.

The 26-year-old Christian hip-hop artist known as Flame hopes kids connect with his music so they will hear his message of a changed life through faith in Christ.

Flame will bring that message to St. Petersburg on Saturday when he performs at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10, but the first 100 fans will get in free.

Flame calls himself an urban missionary, and he said communicating with the kids he wants to reach means speaking in a cultural language they understand.

"This is perfect because the power of hip-hop music is tremendous, not only here, but all over the world."

More than anything, Flame said he wants to make the Christian message relevant to young people growing up in an urban setting.

Sometimes, people don't think about how that message is delivered, Flame said. "That's a big barrier. Kids say, 'If it's not cool, I don't want anything to do with it.' "

Flame said that his recently released CD, Our World Redeemed, presents a study of the redemption process that changes thoughts of despair to thoughts of deliverance.

Flame has lived his message.

He grew up in inner city St. Louis with a strong religious background, but he said that it really

didn't register.

In fifth grade, he started rapping, and as he entered his teen years, he began to dream of a secular career.

Those dreams led him down a dangerous path.

"I was getting into the club scene, drugs, living in the fast lane and hanging with older guys."

But Flame said every time he thought he might break into the business, there would be a barrier.

"I recognize now that God pretty much shielded me from going into the depths of that world," he said.

When Flame was 16, his grandmother died.

"God used that to bring me to him," he said.

As Flame grew in his faith, he began to use his musical talents to communicate his Christian beliefs.

Drawing from musical influences such as Tupac and Nas, he released his first album on Cross Movement Records in 2004. His third album, Our World Fallen, released in 2007, peaked at No. 7 on Billboard's top Christian album chart.

Joe McCall, the youth pastor at New Hope, organized the show. He became familiar with Flame's music when he was in college and shares the performer's passion to reach kids through a language they understand.

"There's a disconnect between this generation and the voice they hear in church. Let's use hip-hop and change that voice," he said.

McCall acknowledges some critics don't think the Christian message should be married to the hip-hop culture, but he contends music is amoral and simply serves as a communication tool.

"Some people want to demonize the whole culture," he said. "It's not the culture that has the problem. The problem comes from a dark and sinful heart. God is a redeemer. He not only redeems people, he redeems culture."

Michael Maharrey can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or mmaharrey@sptimes.com.

>>IF YOU GO

Saturday's concert

When:

7 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 5.

Where: New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 2120 19th St. S, St. Petersburg.

Cost: $10. Free for the first 100 at the door.

'Urban missionary' shares beliefs through rap 04/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pope Francis presents Trump with a 'politically loaded gift': His encyclical on climate change

    Global Warming

    VATICAN CITY — On Wednesday, Pope Francis appeared to make his point with a gift.

    Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Wednesday.  [Evan Vucci/Pool via The New York Times]
  2. Tampa police say 41-year-old man shot and killed by ex-boss, investigation ongoing

    Crime

    TAMPA — A 41-year-old man was shot and killed by his former boss Wednesday morning outside the West Tampa auto body shop where they once worked together, according to Tampa police.

  3. Father and brother of alleged bomber detained in Libya

    World

    The father and younger brother of the man who British police say bombed an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester have been detained in Libya, where anti-terror authorities said the brother confessed to knowing "all the details" of the attack plot.

    Hashim Ramadan Abedi appears inside the Tripoli-based Special Deterrent anti-terrorism force unit after his arrest on Tuesday for alleged links to the Islamic State extremist group. Abedi is the brother of Salman Abedi, who has been identified as the man behind the bombing that killed 22 people and wounded scores at an Ariana Grande concert Monday night in Manchester. [Ahmed Bin Salman, Special Deterrent Force via AP]
  4. Marijuana extract Epidiolex helps some kids with epilepsy, study shows

    Health

    A medicine made from marijuana, without the stuff that gives a high, cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot's possible health benefits.

    An employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn. [Associated Press (2015)]
  5. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    President Donald Trump held a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House with members of the GOP on May 4 after the House passed legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act. [Cheriss May | Sipa USA via TNS]