Crossover Church in North Tampa may soon see its name added to Guinness World Records.
On Jan. 12, members and pastors from the hip-hop themed church broke the world team freestyle record, busting rhymes for more than 12 hours. The previous record was set at 10 hours and two minutes.
Led by top-selling Christian recording artist KJ-52, local rappers Jerrell Johnson, Heir Jordan, Isaac Folch and Sicily did their thing from 8:30 a.m. until 9:32 p.m., taking only Guinness-required five minute breaks.
"We freestyled about anything and everything we could, about life, God, issues and funny stuff," said Samantha Bennardo, known to fans as Sicily. "It was a long day but it seemed effortless. I guess that's what happens when you're doing what you love with other talented artists."
The idea for the event came from KJ-52, birth name Jonah Sorrentino, who contacted longtime friend and Crossover senior pastor Tommy Kyllonen.
"I looked up the record and thought we could probably pull it off," Sorrentino said. "I sent in the application to Guinness and it got approved so quickly. Everyone was really on their A game for the day. It's one thing to freestyle and another thing to do it for so long."
Throughout the day, the group took topic suggestions from online spectators via live streaming video. One viewer asked Bennardo to rap about pudding, she said. In addition to beatboxers, a drummer helped keep things going.
Witnesses and time keepers kept detailed records to submit to Guinness. The event concluded during an evening church service, where Kyllonen spoke about the accomplishment. The paperwork is being processed to officially add the name in the record books, he said.
"They did it for sure, they broke the record," Kyllonen said. "Two minutes into our evening service, they did it. The crowd went crazy and everyone was yelling."
Crossover incorporates music into most of its events and services. On Feb. 2, the church will host a Super Bowl party beginning with a service at 5 p.m. Guests are invited to stay, watch the game on one of three big screens and enjoy a beat-driven halftime show. There will also be snacks courtesy of the church. Also, the church will host a marriage conference on Feb. 14 and 15. Crossover, at 1235 E Fowler Ave., offers Sunday services at 10 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6 p.m. Many of its members perform at venues throughout the bay area. KJ-52 performs nationwide. For more information, visit crossoverchurch.org.
Sarah Whitman can be reached at [email protected]