By Michael Ashcraft —
He thrilled to strap up a Glock, flex a gold chain and fancy car and gangbang in the streets, but when Benjamin Broadway stood over the casket of his close friend Johnny Talyor, God interrupted the thug life fantasy he was living.
“That can be you,” the Most High told Benjamin. “God just attacked me.”
The dark reality of mortality combined with the stark prophecy from God prompted Benjamin to straighten up. He cut off his street friends and went to the local Vineyard Church.
Today, the South Bend, Indiana, native spearheads of sub-genre of Christian Hip Hop called Gospel Trap that is oriented more for sinners than saints.
“I’m trying to save the hood,” he says in a 2016 Rapzilla video. “Gospel Trap is putting God where He’s needed. People that’s in church every Sunday God got them some way somehow. But people in the streets don’t have Him. I’m trying to give music to the streets”
The Tupac-influenced artist came under fire from Christian circles when he dropped “God in the Bando” (a bando is an abandoned house that has been taken over by dealers and addicts) by saints who want to maintain a high holy wall of separation between the church and the world. Benjamin employs ghetto language to entice sinners to listen, but he redefines the words out of the Bible. A lot of Christians don’t get the strategy.
“I’m using a lot of key words that the hood knows, and I’m putting them in a gospel perspective,” he says. “You’re going to hear stuff like ‘plug’ — all different types of keywords that no other Christian artist is using. When I put out ‘God in tha bando,’ people was attacking me. I mean, attacking me. I’m like, how come people don’t know that I’m trying to put the message out on the streets? I want to save a million souls.”
His lyrics come short of an R rating. Some parents may want to steer their Chrisitan kids to more sanitized raps. But the older youth from the suburbs would do well to approach Benjamin’s music as a sociological study of the ghetto and sensitivity training.
He’s quite the wordsmith. In one song he reflects on how it’s not easy to make a living in Christian Hip Hop even if you strike it big. “I know you broke CHH” he raps. It’s an expression of making a sensation that shuts down others because of the explosion of attention to you. He goes on to reflect on how the artist can still “be broke” financially.
Benjamin got away from the faith of his parents in high school. Everyday his dad would nag him to serve Jesus and would read him his favorite verse, which he hid through secret combination of numbers in his album “Gospel Trap 2.”
“I felt like my friends were my family; we started our own clique and ended up getting in a lot of trouble. Did a lot of things,” he told God Reports. “I think the reason why I did it so long was the friends that were around me, we were close. Plus not only that, you get addicted to the street life, you end up glorifying it, and continue to think it’s right. But in reality it’s harming you.”
He got kicked out of high school for fighting rival gang members but still managed to graduate. For some of his shenanigans in the streets, he would up locked up in jail, though only for a week.
“That made me realize — being locked up in a cell like an animal — that is not the way I wanted to live,” Benjamin said. “I didn’t want the government being in charge of my life (through prison officials and judges, etc). I don’t like jail or the police (no offense to the good officers that protect america in a good way).”
While a week of jail was sobering, what really got his attention was the death of his friend and the realization that it could very easily have been him in the casket.
Today, Benjamin is serving God, not just by attending church, but by producing relatable lyrics for the kids in the streets who are risk of getting ensnared like he had been by Satan’s tricks. He’s moving “Bible bricks,” instead of bricks of cocaine.
Rhyming about the streets and dishing out God’s wisdom are not the only subject matter for Benjamin. In fact, he has a whole album dedicated to his misadventures in the romantic field: both good and bad are discussed with candor at once charming and unnerving.
He works regularly with Jarry Manna and Shiwan.
He now lives dividing his time between Chicago and Decatur, Illinois. He’s a single divorced dad, and his daughter is the motivation for his life.
“I love my daughter with all my heart, he says. “Everything I do on a daily basis, is for her and her future.”
Read about other Christian hip hop artists by clicking: 1K Phew – Aaron Cole — Ada Betsabé – Andy Mineo – Bizzle – Canon – Cass – Datin – Flame – Gawvi – HeeSun Lee – Jackie Hill-Perry – JGivens – John Givez – KB – Lecrae – Lil T Tyler Brasel– MC Jin – NF – nobigdyl. – Propaganda – Ray Emmanuel – Ruslan – Sevin – S.O. — Social Club Misfits – Steven Malcolm – Tedashii – Tobe Nwigwe – Trip Lee – Wande Isola – WhatUpRG
And an overview article about the state of affairs in CHH: Christian Hip Hop in Controversy.
To keep providing free Christian content, Michael Ashcraft sells bamboo steamers on Amazon.