Tony Cummings reports on the hip-hop artist from Denton, Texas, TEDASHII
Out of a terrible tragedy - the sudden death of his one year old son in March - Texas-based rapper Tedashii has found a groundswell of support from Christians around the world. An organisation, His Voice Global, who equips and supports orphans and widows in South Sudan, India and North Korea and who Tedashii had partnered with in the past, have come to the rapper's help. Read a blog posted by His Voice Global executive director Vernon Berger, "As we grieve with him and his family we also want to bless them. In this time, we want to offer him the opportunity to stay home with his family, grieve, begin to heal, seek the Lord, be comforted and to comfort. The perception is that if one is a travelling musician, they have more money than they know what to do with. The fact is, that is just not true."
The amount raised enabling Tedashii to come off the road for six months was raised in five days. Read a statement from His Voice Global, "In five days you guys have provided the goal of allowing Tedashii and his family to unplug for six months. The support has literally been international, from Europe to Australia to the States. It has been incredible! I just got back from visiting Tedashii and they have been completely overwhelmed by all of your support."
Born in East Texas to Samoan parents, Tedashii "TDot" Anderson was raised to be very family-oriented, respectful and appreciative, but embracing the latter was often difficult in light of the economic conditions his family faced. Television became an escape for him as he admitted to wanting a different life, "I really wanted to get away. By most standards, he was a well-rounded, good person - most, but not all. Tedashii was given a wake-up call in college after being confronted by a student who overheard him using profanity. "He told me that I was a sinner and basically shared the Gospel with me that day." Some time later, after going to a Christian event on campus and seeing hundreds of urban students authentically worship God, he received Jesus and found new life in Christ. Tedashii's new found family in Christ encouraged him to use his rapping skills, honed since being challenged to freestyle in high school, to glorify God. And while his first attempt to do so wasn't well-received, he was recognized as "different" by his peers again, but now it was because of his faith. After being introduced to Lecrae, rooming with both him and Sho Baraka, Tedashii was exhorted to commit to ministry through music. "I wanted to do college ministry. . .being a part of Christian hip-hop was never the plan."
By 2005 Dallas' loose-knit gospel hip-hop aggregation 116 Clique (pronounced one-one-six click) featuring the likes o Lecrae, Trip Lee, Flame, KB, Derek Minor, Andy Mineo and Tedashii was up and running. The collective's name was taken from Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first and also to the Gentile." After the initial 'The Compilation Album' in 2005 DJ Primo remixed the original recordings into 'The Compilation Album: Chopped & Screwed Special Edition'. The remix album was released in 2006 and included four bonus tracks. In April 2007 Tedashii was signed to Reach Records as a solo rapper and in 2006 the world's premier Christian rap label released the emcee's debut solo album 'Kingdom People'. The album, with production from Lecrae, JR, Tony Stone and others and features from Trip Lee, Phanatak, Lecrae, Cam and JR, impressed the Cross Rhythms reviewer who wrote, "Tedashii says that he wanted to look at the practical side of walking out the Christian faith and is filled with testimony songs and introspection. Highlights include 'Off Da Hook' which illustrates that Christ got us off the hook with his sacrifice and 'Free' featuring the lovely voice of Diamone. This is a quality release."
With his second album, 2009's 'Identity Crisis', Tedashii shared this past identity struggles, the fountain of his new identity and challenged listeners to find theirs in Christ along. It proved successful charting at number two on the Gospel Billboard chart and number nine on the Christian Billboard chart. JesusFreakHideout wrote, "'26's' is a dirty south rap that borrows a line from Lecrae's 'The King' and makes it the hook. The line is 'These self-proclaimed kings braggin' cause they're on chrome, but 26 inches is a pretty low throne' and Tedashii (with the help of Lecrae) talks about idolatry and the pointlessness of worshipping objects. Lecrae hits hard with words like "When they make some hotter rims your gods get rusty so you change religions like Madonna did.' Going along with the idolatry message, '26's' leads into 'Hollywood', where Tedashii talks about when he was younger and how he had a tendency to replace Christ with movies. Other topics he touches on are reaching people who are having rough times and are questioning God, Christians living in harmony with one another and making war against our flesh instead of just allowing it to keep winning. As with every album put out by Reach Records, you're gonna get Jesus in every song. That's their goal and purpose, and they live up to the call."
In 2010 Tedashii undertook the Unashamed: The Movement Tour and the following year released his third album 'Blacklight'. The theme of the album was hugely challenging. In its common usage, a black light reveals that which is invisible to the naked eye - exposing contaminants that produce otherwise undetectable odours. Black lights can also be used to distinguish between genuine currency and counterfeit bills. On his album Tedashii pointed out that God too has a way of exposing man and showing us who we really are beneath the surface. The rapper reminded listeners that God illuminates the emptiness in the cups we fill with temporal pleasures; unearths the unredeemed areas of our lives that we bury under rhetoric; and graciously provides us with the hope of a day where all that we now desire to hide is perfected by his sin-eradicating power.
Musically there were some surprises on 'Blacklight'. CCM's acoustic duo Shane And Shane are even featured on "Finally" while elsewhere old friend Lecrae guests on "Dum Dum". Other collabs on 'Blacklight' come from Sho Baraka, Thi'sl, Benjah, KB, C-Lite and others while production was provided by Pro, Alex Medina, Street Symphony, DJ Official, the Kracken, Joseph Prielozny and others. Again it received thumbs up reviews. Sputnik Music wrote, "Blacklight samples different beats according to each guest's strengths. 'This Is The Life' has a jazz beat and Tdot and Sho Baraka do a great job of combining hip-hop and jazz. 'You Know What It Is' is another banger track. I enjoy that Reach Records is adding more fast rappers like KB featured in 'You Know What It Is'. The mid-west rapping style is becoming bigger in rap and it's good to see Reach has paid attention. 'Can't Get With It' is one of my favourite solo Tedashii songs. In 'Can't Get With You' Tedashii reveals his life story and provides very relatable lyrics."
Tedashii's current biography on the internet ends on what is now a poignant note. "He has been serving at The Village Church in Denton, Texas and raising his son with his lovely wife."