2012 was the year rappers went to church. Well, they at least acted that way by incorporating Christian language and imagery in everything from song and album titles to videos and slang. Church talk trended faster than a Pope named Bieber.
For many believers, the most recent sin that needed to be confessed and forgiven was The Game’s Jesus Piece album and cover art. In fact, it was enough for a Christian like theBREAX frontman Ruslan to hit the booth for a Jesus Peace response EP over Jayceon’s instrumentals.
TRU’s Sketch the Journalist recently connected with the MC over e-mail to ask the artist about his motivation and response to the project thus far.
Sketch: What sparked the Jesus Peace record for you? Was there a particular song/interview that made you decide to put together this project?
Ruslan: What sparked the project was initially following The Game, hearing about him getting baptized and even spending this past New Year’s Eve at church. I can tell there’s a genuine desire for the things of God but they’re just being displayed the wrong way and clearly there has been no one around to check him at his church. So I figured if I got at him via an EP in a respectful, yet honest way, he would appreciate it.
Then the name flip, I thought “Man, this would be dope for an artist to do. Bizzle [a Christian rapper who first gained notice by going at Jay-Z] would kill this Jesus Peace concept.” Then I bounced it off a few friends and they were like, “Bro you should do it.”
I was initially fearful it would take away from my Carry On album coming out so soon, but then figured if we add the drops it would just build momentum for the release instead of take away from it.
Sketch: I’ve seen you reach out (or at least tag) The Game in various social media efforts after this dropped. Do you know if he’s heard it or have you received any feedback from him or his camp? If not, what type of response would you hope for?
Ruslan: I know he’s heard it. He’s followed theBREAX on twitter for the past few years and it’s a very small industry, especially on the west coast. DJ Rek was just at one of his birthday parties a few weeks ago so it’s a small world out here.
We made sure the management got it via email, the entourage got it on social media, and some of his fans started checking for it. When we did the #JesusPeace hashtag on Instagram we blew them up with a few hundred photos mentions in like a 48 hour time span. Then some folks started commenting on all of his posts. I think they may have been a little caught off guard by it and annoyed by the guerrilla marketing approach, but in a situation like this I guess the ends justify the means.
But yes, we know he’s heard it. He hasn’t responded and, publicly, that’s his best move. Saying nothing is the wisest thing he can do. Acknowledging it positively or negatively only spreads it and dissing me would be misguided and immortalize me to my audience. There’s no real move he has besides remaining quiet and hopefully learning a few things – which was my heart ultimately.
Sketch: On Jesus Peace you rapped over instrumentals from The Game’s Jesus Piece record. That’s a practice that is sometimes, but not always, done on “diss records” toward the artist whose soundbeds are used for the response. Is Jesus Peace a compilation of diss tracks towards The Game?
Ruslan: No. Diss is short for disrespect. I don’t believe at any point I disrespect him as a man, his character, him as an artist, or a family man. He’s only acknowledged on the opening track “Let’s Talk About It” and even in the second verse I communicate how I have nothing but love for him and I own every album he’s ever released.
If I wanted to diss the dude, I could have done much more than just break down his faulty theology and share some apologetics about the faith. That’s really all Jesus Peace is. We just leveraged it as something bigger cause we knew it would get people talking.
Sketch: In the past, your lyrics have seemed to indicate that you don’t find this type of direct-response-record approach a fruitful strategy for believers. Have you changed your opinion on that now?
Ruslan: Yes and no. I don’t think we should disrespect non-believers publicly for their lack of understanding or even their disrespect of our faith. I do think we should respond and correct them when Jesus is clearly being misrepresented in culture.
The Game’s situation is a little unique because he claims to be a believer, gets baptized, attends church regularly and goes to his church’s New Year’s Eve service. He Instagrams all of this yet puts out an album that’s very confusing and misleading about who and what Jesus really does in our lives. So I’m not sure if my opinion has changed as much as the situation and the response has changed.
Sketch: What’s up with the Jesus Peace cover art?
Ruslan: Our Jesus Peace artwork was a parody making fun of The Game’s original artwork. If you look at the two they are similar. The point was to poke fun and make a statement with the artwork because the content of the mixtape was much more serious. Apparently not everyone got that. Also if you aren’t engaged in hip hop and hadn’t seen the original ours doesn’t make any sense. We have an alternate cover designed by Savior Brand [see above] that we just released today that’s a little more appropriate.
Stream the complete EP below or download it here.