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Gospel Rapper Flame Talks 'Royal Flush,' Family Life, Mainsteam Rap

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Gospel Rapper Flame

Thanks to artists like Flame, Christian hip-hop is no longer seen as corny, unauthentic and forgettable. Mentioning the name of Jesus or saying God without an inflammatory curse word to follow, all while managing to grab the attention of hard core hip hop heads, is just another example of how the landscape of music is changing, particularly in the world of rap.

ESSENCE.com recently sat down with the burgeoning rapper to discuss his latest project “Royal Flush,” his family life, mainstream rappers comparing themselves to God and more!

ESSENCE.com: Royal Flush is your 7th album. Where did the title come from?
Flame: Royal Flush is a poker hand. It is the highest hand you can receive when playing cards. I’m using it as a metaphor for all those who have been dealt a bad hand in life, that you can be re-dealt the highest hand in life with a relationship with Jesus Christ. I wanted a creative concept that had depth and meaning, but was still relatable.

How do you differ from popular Christian hip-hop artists like Lecrae or Andy Mineo?
Well most of us are friends and have toured together at some point, so there are a lot of similarities, but stylistically and content wise we do differ. For example I’m from St. Louis, the Midwest, so I have a more eclectic hip-hop sound. Versus someone like Lecrae and others, they have a more southern flow. Sonically that is probably the major difference. And then too, I like to connect the dots between some very weighty concepts in the Bible and show how they have relevance today. So, I have more of a teaching element.

You have been married for almost 6 years, but your wife is also your business partner. Does it get difficult juggling everything?
My wife and I travel together to every show and we make it fun. And we also have a label that we run called Clear Sight Music. So, then we also prioritize checking out from the music industry and making sure we do things as a couple. We always celebrate our anniversary by going somewhere tropical. We also have date nights during the week, so we can enjoy each other’s company. But there are times when you can feel the tension where business and marriage cross. You have to have great communication though and be able to be honest, that is very important.

What made you want to continue your education and pursue a master’s degree?
I'm currently getting my master’s degree in biblical counseling. The music helps me develop a trusted name and then puts me in front of people that have questions and are looking for answers. I want to have tactful and truthful answers that make sense. I believe the Bible has those answers, so I want to be able to take a person from A to Z and hopefully challenge them to think or even see God in a different light.

How do you feel when artists like Jay-Z and Kanye compare themselves to God?
In hip-hop we’re always using hyperboles to express an idea. So, I think there is an aspect where they are just really claiming to be the best, not that there is specifically a religious tone to it. If I’m not a Christian and those terms aren’t that sacred to me, I can picture myself redefining the meaning. I think they are intelligent guys, so I don’t think they are walking around as if they really believe they are a deity.

Where can people find you performing if they want to see you?
Well back by popular demand, I will be on the Blackout Circuit tour. It’s a merge between hip-hop and EDM. So the show has a lot of lights, heavy drums and crazy digital effects that make it high energy and a lot of fun! It went really well last year, so this Spring we’re back at it!

Flame's latest album Royal Flush is available on iTunes.

Gerald Jones (@DaGospelTruth) is the founder of DaGospelTruth.com.

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