OCTOBER 24, 2010
Rock Hill violence prompts rally from church
Gabriel Dunham didn't hear about the death of another young black male from gunshots this week in Rock Hill on Baker Street, and say, "this is not my problem."
Dunham, 22, learned in the same Lesslie Elementary and Saluda Trail Middle and Rock Hill High classrooms as did Anthony Whitlock, 23, now dead from bullets.
He's going to rap about it. Sing about it. Pray about it. Rally about it.
"I don't want another young black man to die for nothing," Dunham said.
Now a Christian rapper, Dunham says he once was part of the problem. The problem is the lure of the streets among so many young black men, teens or early 20s.
Dunham knows the accompanying hurt to families and clasp of handcuffs that come from the stupidity this violence brings upon so many.
"I knew what I was doing was wrong," Dunham says of his younger days.
He got in trouble just once on a weapon-and-drug charge. He got probation.
"I wasn't thinking about my future. None of these guys are. They are just living in the present, making these poor choices, and when it is all over somebody is hurt or killed and somebody else is gone off to jail. We have to do something - all of us."
Dunham's stage name is "Yung Semaj."
Semaj is short for 'Soon everyone must accept Jesus.' His music is rap and hip-hop because that is what young black men like him listen to, and it reaches them. So Saturday, Dunham will team up with others like him, at Rock Hill's Christ Deliverance Church, for a stop the violence rally organized by Rev. Alvin Murdock, the church's pastor.
"If not me to take a stand, who?" Dunham asked.
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Christian rap group returns to entertain, encourage with holiday show
Christian rap trio, Sons of a King, known as S.O.A.K., is set to perform at 6 p.m. Saturday in Talbot Auditorium on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
The group, part of the holy hip-hop movement, includes Yung Semaj of South Carolina, Lunie 3:80 of Atlanta and Judah Man of the Chicago area.
Local audiences can celebrate the season with holy hip-hop as a trio of Christian rappers stages its “Lil Rapper Boy” concert in Thibodaux this weekend.
Sons of a King, known as S.O.A.K., are set to perform at 6 p.m. Saturday in Talbot Auditorium on the campus of Nicholls State University. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 each.
“I’m looking forward to the people,” said Yung Semaj, one of the group’s rappers, in a phone interview, citing the warm welcome the group received during last year’s show in Thibodaux. “I’m also looking forward to the food.”
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A trio of rappers known collectively as Sons of a King, or S.O.A.K., aim to entertain a Thibodaux audience with the same snappy rhythms bumping on the radio, but the words flowing to the beat will glorify something other than violence, misogyny or thug life.
These rappers spit catchy lyrics inspired by biblical passages, radical conversions and a passionate pursuit of the Christian lifestyle.
"These guys all have testimonies about how God has changed their lives in a supreme way," said Mileina Battaglia, who is organizing the show.
In their hands, "Crank dat Soulja Boy" becomes "Crank dat Holy Ghost," the hit song’s sexual references replaced with words like "Watch me crank it, watch me roll, give him praise I save my soul, S-A-V-E where I be, he fill me up with dat Holy Ghost."
And it’s good, according to locals who have heard the musicians’ work.
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