Hope The Rapper’s music is not for the faint of heart. It is unapologetically brash. It is in-your-face and challenging in ways that will make you question everything you thought you knew. But at the end of the day his music is one that presents a message of hope for the future … and eternity.
Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, this 35-year-old medical professional who embraces Christianity and served as a former Army infantry officer and veteran of Iraq has taken his life-long love of music and created a three-part album called “Emancipation” that is shocking the world with its candor. Don’t hit play on this album and expect to hear Gospel tracks or feel-good vibes. That’s not what Hope the Rapper is about. His music is the kind that uses coarse language and abrasive tactics to shock you into taking a hard look at yourself. And if you see things that need to change in your life, then Hope leads you on a path to self-discovery and opportunity for freedom in the future.
“My gift to the world is my poetry – my lyrics and my ability to write,” Hope said. “I’m having blast writing, and my goal is to elevate others through being a great lyricist. My whole message is glorifying the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. All I want to do is remind people that we have an amazing savior and his name is Jesus Christ. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of service work – I was a bartender and waiter and janitor mopping floors, and I’ve been working in the medical industry for years. My life is a life of servitude and music is a way for me to serve. I’m interested in making people wake up and pay attention. Look at our world right now – it’s not getting any better. Let’s put our opinions aside and get to work.”
Hope’s three-part album kicked off earlier this summer with the release of the single “The Coming.” Characterized by Hope’s smooth flow and creative lyrics, “The Coming” is an awakening that forces the listener to focus as Hope uses soft vocals alongside hard truths.
He’s now following that up with the second single of the project called “The Reunion.” Like all the songs on the album, Hope partnered with Michael The Captain who produced the EP and is featured on this particular single. Of all the songs on “Emancipation,” “The Reunion” is perhaps the most controversial as Hope uses the N-word. His intention from the beginning was that the word would grab attention and force people to listen even deeper to what it is he’s saying in the song. But as a white rapper, he recognized from the very beginning that this would be a controversial move and one he couldn’t approach lightly. He knew he needed to talk it through with The Captain who has been a black American producer in the music industry for many years.
“Hope came to me and showed me what he wrote and told me I wasn’t gonna like it,” The Captain said. “When I first read it, I told him, ‘Hell no! You’re not gonna do that!’ For me it seemed like he had the perspective of wanting people to be offended, but only for the sake of getting attention. But as he talked to me about it, he showed me that he’s trying to make people ask what he’s talking about. We had a conversation about why it wouldn’t be OK – about how it’s a word that was used for people who have been oppressed and deprived of things because of American culture in the past and people who were privileged. People who are dis-privileged feel like when someone with privilege uses that word they can justifiably beat their ass – and even their friends would agree. Once Hope had that understanding – and I explained what he was getting himself into – I told him I wasn’t going to defend him. It’s not about just culture shock or trying to get attention. It’s about coming from a different perspective. He changed the way he used it after that conversation – adopting more of a role he was playing than the way he originally wrote it. I’m a black man in America, so I’m not afraid of this. For anyone who has any animosity against me for letting this man use this word, they should think about this idea of ‘letting’ someone do something. It is no longer a privilege at that point. I’m not gonna defend him, but he comes from a whole different perspective and understanding of what he’s saying now that we talked it through.”
The Captain elaborated on that conversation with Hope, saying that they talked through every aspect of the album and the concepts that Hope was bringing to the table. As with all things he does, The Captain wanted to bring maximum effectiveness and quality to the album. As such, he worked closely with Hope on the project – to the point that Hope said it’s basically a 50/50 collaboration. But at the end of the day, when it comes to “The Reunion,” Hope said he owes The Captain a great debt – not only for giving him permission to use the N-word but also for helping him see a different perspective on the culture divide that still creates such tension across the U.S. today.
“I did come to Michael ignorantly,” Hope said. “I didn’t have his perspective. He took the time to educate me on things I wasn’t aware of. He told me ‘If they want to, they’re gonna beat your ass.’ I’m not scared to take that path because I’m doing this with the right heart – which is why The Captain allowed me to do what I did. That kind of gift … I don’t know how to pay him back for that. I could forever be labeled as the white rapper who said the N-word in a rap song. Michael did it for the music. He agreed to it even though it could end up costing him friends or business. I have to make sure that gift doesn’t go to waste and also make sure I do what I need to do with this mission. He didn’t have to do that for me, but the reason we did it is because we wanted to change the game up a bit. We know it’s gonna cause a lot of friction and static and make a lot of people unhappy. But in doing so, we’re really attacking every race. We don’t back off from anybody. We’re creating smoke for a reason – we want responses. I’m a poet. I love writing and being challenged, and I want someone to challenge me letter-for-letter on this. I’ve been walked all over for the majority of my life. I’ve been looked over and put on the back burner for too long. I’m sick and tired of hearing about this ‘White Christian America.’ It’s absolutely horrendous. I find this country and some things happening absolutely disgusting. We are turning our own rivers into blood. Something needs to change. I feel America and the world is losing hope, and I can’t let that happen. This song and this entire album is my attempt to help change that.”
Yet to come from the album is the third song of the project called “Mumble Rap Eulogy” which Hope said will be a “real kill-shot to mumble rap.” That’s set to follow later in August with yet another stand-alone single called “The Four Horsemen,” planned to release separate from the album later in the fall.
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