Gospel rappers tread on thin ice, explains Terry Pope, of the Montgomery-based trio Life Through Colors. On one side are some church members saying you’re not quoting enough scripture. One the other side are complaints that you’re “Bible-thumping.”
“You’re trying to put together the good music and you’re trying to fight for their attention and get them to hear what you’ve got to say, because it’s way more than what you think,” said Pope, who goes by “T Pope.” “So it’s tough.”
Life Through Colors released a new album Friday called “Aftermath.” It includes songs with titles like “I Rise,” “Scripture,” “Pray for You” and “Good Life” – all written by the artists. The album is available on iTunes and other major digital outlets.
So far, the reaction has been positive, said group member Larry “Rockette” Rockette. “It sounds like secular music, but it has a positive vibe to it,” he said.
The group’s message to young people is that “there is a definition of cool, but it’s not what they see on TV,” he said. “We want them to know God is really cool.”
Among the lyrics on one track:
“I’m staying true to His will/
And that’s the way it is/
Confident in the way I live/
And all my dreams I will fulfill.”
Pope, Rockette and James “DJ Jimbo the Jet” Chappell, all have backgrounds in hip hop, but they came together in Life Through Colors on different journeys.
Rockette was a Mississippi native who turned his life over to God in 2011, and the music followed. Pope and Chapelle (who handles the technical side) were Alabamians who had grown weary of traditional hip hop. They decided to go positive.
The members explain the group’s name this way. “We fell like life is all about perspective,” said Rockette. “You can see it in black and white or you can see it through colors.”
For them, that means “a brighter way, a better way to live your life.”
Rockette was raised in a single-parent household and has been involved in drugs, alcoholism and fights, he said.
Pope said there were times growing up that he feared for his life because of an abusive relationship. As a teen, he lost two cousins to shootings a few months apart. “I didn’t think I’d make it to 25,” Pope said.
What all three artists bring to the table is a transparency they hope resonates with young people facing struggles in their own lives. “We’re new to this Christian walk as well,” said Pope.
The new album itself is an outpouring of emotion that followed troubles within the band. During the past year, a member of the group left, which was hurtful hurt and raised speculation that the group would “implode,” Rockette said.
It didn’t. Instead, they sat down with the pastor at True Divine Baptist Church in Montgomery.
“God hadn’t given up on us, so we couldn’t give up on him,” Rockette said.