Gangster to Orchestra Rap: My Journey in Rapping

It’s always been a great joy of mine to listen to orchestra, rap and specifically the violin and piano. Five years ago, finding a classical piano player and violinists to work with you on a song was a complicated matter. Even after working as a full-time prayer missionary in Kansas City, where musicians literally worship God with live music 24/7 for the last 20 years, I still could not find an open door for those instruments I’ve been looking for. My journey began with trying to express God’s heart for the lost through orchestra and rap. Looking back, it was quite a journey to where God took me today as a missionary, from where I came from as a gang member in Los Angeles, California.

I started rapping when I was 13 years old. I was born in Los Angeles (LA), California during the time of Snoop Dogg, Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. I was also in a gang. In LA, every gangster needs to know how to rap and freestyle.

When I was a teenager, my gang and I would often be found in some street corner or parking lot, high on drugs, wired on crystal meth, with a posse of gangsters up past midnight. We would have a trunk popped open, filled with giant speakers, blunts of weed being passed around, alcohol and all other types of vices and rap the whole night. Of course, that was until someone would get into a fight or a cop would come, whichever came first.

During this time, I learned how to express myself through the art of freestyle rap. Freestyle rap is where a rapper has a beat playing in the background, instrumental only and proceed to rap whatever comes to their mind or heart.

When I was 16, all I rapped about was killing people, friends getting shot, women and friends getting thrown in jail. However, after I gave my life to Jesus, my passion for music and rap stayed with me – not all the sin I just mentioned!

In fact, when I was 18, I met a rapping missionary evangelist in the clubs of Metro Manila, Philippines. My parents left me in a foreign land, knowing that if I stayed in LA, I would be killed or sent to jail for life. It is after I came to my native country that I also came to encounter Jesus.

As this missionary rapped, he shared about getting shot in drive-bys (gangsters in cars passing by as they shot you), about selling cocaine in the school restrooms and lockers and about having friends being incarcerated; at the end, he shared about how he finally met his Father in heaven, who he was looking for his whole life.

I was captivated by the song. Standing there in the club, listening to him preach his story through a rap song immediately engaged my heart. After the performance, I talked to him, and over time, he shared with me the Gospel. That was the year I gave my life to Jesus.

Since then, my journey with rap stayed with me. While I can’t perform as much I want, I still find enjoyment in music, arts and writing as one of my main prayer languages with the Lord.

No longer in the trenches of gang wars, but now in the trenches of the mission field, the Lord has supernaturally placed on my heart this deepening passion for loving the lost. This is where “Sunrise Says Goodbye” came from, a longing to learn more about how Jesus’ heart longs for His Bride to know Him, specifically the ones that have not yet come to faith.

My Orchestra Rap Song

Sunrise Says Goodbye Cover LQ

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