Follo’ing the prolific sounds of its Gospel Hip Hop
artists. As they follo’ the true role model, Jesus Christ.
“Did the show start already? ” I asked one of the cute girls sitting around a table full of CDs called Glass House to sell. “It just started; you came just in time. Hurry!” she said. Role Model Records’ (RMR) CD release party took place at Islington Evangel Centre in a dark atmospheric setting filled with lots of young people bobbing to the sounds of its artists.
Illuminating lights flickered on and off from the stage full of young and talented musicians: a medium-built guy was playing the drums, a girl with red hair was playing the violin, a DJ and his sound system were set-up in the middle of the stage. Spinning the music was DJ Lagit, his name written in black across his laptop, wearing a black t-shirt with a noticeable red GH acronym printed on the front. To his left there were two other musicians playing electric guitar and a young girl playing keyboard while a rap lyricist, who goes by the name of Spoken, was rapping on the mike.
Spoken was wearing a black baseball cap with a red rim to match his t-shirt, the same one as DJ Lagit’s. I later found out that it was not coincidence, but rather scripted for Spoken and DJ Lagit to be wearing identical t-shirts. It later made sense as they are both label mates and represent Role Model Records. Spoken is a rap artist with RMR and DJ Lagit is a DJ with RMR. As for the bold red GH acronym, it symbolizes Glass House which is RMR’s first debut album.
Spoken was shouting out, “Everybody say breakthrough, breakthrough…” towards the large crowd pulsating with lots of energy. Planting myself very close to the front of the stage to take in as much as possible, I was behind a guy who was dancing up a storm and obviously enjoying the show, and beside a 5’7” chubby guy who had his hands held high towards heaven exalting God and wearing a t-shirt that read, “Sin is a disease, Jesus is the vaccine.” I reverted my attention back to Spoken who clearly had the soul of a poet, an unquenchable yearning to tell a story to evoke emotive responses. He spewed out the prophetic word of God into the hyped crowd, depositing it into their ear drums as they eagerly absorbed it. I gave a fair listen to the powerful words that effortlessly rolled of his poetic tongue and I also soaked up a few or more, if not all, no different from the attentive throng of people there that night rocking to the beat, yet listening intensely to the positive words that filtrated the air.
“Shackles on your hands, shackles on your feet, shackles on your mind but you know He does redeem, so breakthrough ’cause He came through, breakthrough….”
Role Model Records is an urban record label fanatical about living a non-conformist lifestyle to publicly bring exposure to the gospel of Christ where “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Sola Ogunbitan is the founder and CEO of Role Model Records which consists of four individuals and a DJ. These prolific young men go by the names of Mosepe “Spoken” Adeyemi, Lamar “Julien” Hyacinthe, Joel “Boogie” St. John, Dwane “Beatz Johnson” Johnson and Chris Lewis a.k.a DJ Lagit who have all been friends for many years. Their friendship has been built on a solid foundation which sparked the vision to collectively start a Gospel Hip Hop group and later birth their first project, Glass House. According to the young entrepreneurs, they coined the name Role Model Records to represent their Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, whom they believe is the true role model for all. They have consciously made a decision to follow His dogma, to emulate a Christ-like character and to become good role models for today’s young generation.
Glass House is not named for the popular idiom, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones,” but rather takes on a different metaphorical connotation altogether. “Glass House” signifies being in a state of brokenness. It describes someone crushed in spirit as a result of experiencing a great deal of hurt, pain and sorrow. However, with the ministry of these five Evangelists who help to shed light on the power of God, the captives can be set free as the artists frequently do penetrate the darkness of hurt, pain and suffering and replace it with His glorious gospel. “We are such broken people, yet we found Christ to deliver us from brokenness,” declares Spoken.
The majority of their music is heavily influenced by Hip Hop, Southern Hip Hop, R&B, Gospel, 80s Soul, 90s Electronica and Classical with samples of Rock here and there infused with radical rhyme to expose Christ’s truth. “Role Model Records is rocked by one style of truth— this is what we go by,” says Spoken, “the solid biblical truth, the unadulterated word of God, that is.” They use Gospel Hip Hop, also known as Holy Hip Hop, Gospel Rap and Christ Hop to connect with their audience on a personal level through their music and entertainment platforms. Their music is very unlike secular/mainstream rap music that is typically laced with profanity, misogynistic libretto, incites violence, sexual nature, drugs and tough talking to prove they are authentic gangsters. On the contrary, RMR’s music is quite the opposite. Their songs are encouraging and uplifting like the first single off their album, “It Ain’t Worth It,” that quickly became a summer banger with its tight verses such as, “I need a woman with a Coca-Cola bottle spirit.” Not to mention song number five on the album called “Look Inside Your Heart” and its enriching words, “You have a heart that needs maintaining.”
Joel a.k.a Boogie was the third artist to perform with his hit single, “Follo.’” Well, where do I begin? The frantic crowd went wild with its catchy chorus, “‘follo,’ follo,’ follo,’ follo’ me as I follow Christ.” The deep booming sounds of the bass certainly got people dancing to the beat while Boogie, the musical powerhouse, spit his unique lyrics to a live audience reciting the chorus of “Follo’” along with him. Boogie was accompanied by his label mates Spoken and the high-energy of Julien who bounced across the stage like a hyperactive teen also rapping to one of the night’s big tunes. The large audience was so high-strung by “Follo’,” I remember hearing Boogie say, “Rewind and come again, DJ.” When the DJ brought the song back to the beginning, I saw a guy quickly pull out his iPhone from his pocket making sure to capture the energized performance, but it did not stop there. Boogie interacted with the audience by asking them to move their hand in coordination with his as if asking them to follow him like Jesus did when He was calling two of His disciples, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, to follow Him. “Come, follow me.” (Mark 1:17 NIV): The crowd chanted, “Follo,’ Follo’.” Needless to say, everyone started busting loose and dancing all over the place. It became a madhouse at that point and I had to do a two-step of my own and quickly move out of the way in my four inch stilettos because there was a guy doing the “Gangnam Style” dance who almost stepped on my foot, but I was not annoyed. I laughed—I knew he was having fun in the Lord.
The highlight of the evening was DJ Lagit’s unexpected and very emotional and heartfelt testimony. DJ Lagit started off his narration by asking everyone to close their eyes and imagine what he was about to say. For the most part, I believe everyone closed their eyes not knowing what to anticipate. As he spoke, I closed my eyes while the harmonious richness of the violin played in the background by the red-haired girl and I began to picture the innocent child he spoke of and an innocence that was quickly stolen without permission and without explanation. As he continued to tell the story, the salty tears fell uncontrollably from my eyes and presumably from a few others whom I heard sniffling. In the end, the story turned out to have a happy ending for the little boy who is now a young man rejoicing in the Lord who delivered him from years of brokenness and who gave him peace, happiness and, most of all, His everlasting love.
After hearing DJ Lagit’s electrifying story, I felt like there was something about the transparency of his testimony that released a sense of peace, hope and encouragement into the atmosphere that very moment and that someone’s inner man/soul was strengthened and got the courage to walk out of darkness, bearing no shame, from the strong jaws of brokenness that had held them hostage for many years and step into God’s light and grace to receive their long awaited healing.
The young men of Role Model Records are no charlatans and definitely not duplicitous; they are zealous Ambassadors of Christ who carry an unwavering faith and strong conviction that is evident in their music. Hence the reason why RMR has become a reigning label and fast-growing discipleship ministry with an objective to minister the undiluted Word of God and consequently to encourage the broken. As disciples, their mandate is to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 28:19 NIV) making disciples of all nations. Just like fishermen, Role Model Records’ artists will offer the only effective bait—the gospel of Jesus Christ—to the lost, the unbelievers, by sharing their personal testimonies and their shortcomings and at the same time incorporating the gospel of Christ that has the power to change lives, shine light into darkness and deliver individuals from a “Glass House” state of mind.
- by Simone Da Costa
This article was first published on The Christian Jones.