Tony Cummings talked at length to Texas-based Kim Ruiz, better known as righteous rapper G.L.O GOD's LOVE ONLY
Slowly but surely a growing number of female rappers have joined the forces of male emcees currently vying for attention on the exploding Christian hip-hop scene. Murk, Elle Roc, LaToria, B'Sloan and Sicily have all made an impact on the scene. But the lady with the most confident flow and one who raps exclusively about biblical truth is Kim Ruiz, from San Antonio, Texas who as G.L.O (God's Love Only) has released a series of top rate projects which have made the Cross Rhythms playlist. Now with her latest, the EP 'Fearfully And Wonderfully Made', the rapper, singer, wife and mother has delivered a project which has already been described as "filled with biblical-based lyrics from beginning to end, bass-driven sounds, high-energy melodies and with each song guaranteed to resonate through your soul."
G.L.O says that 'Fearfully And Wonderfully Made' is a reminder to Christ's followers that we are to be in the world but not of it. She insists, "Our father owns the heavens and the earth and all that's within. We are to stand boldly as children of the One True King."
Kim was born in San Antonio, Texas on 26th May 1971. She recounted her upbringing, "My dad was in the air force. My mom worked in the hospital as an EKG tech - you check for the heart, attach the machine and see the pattern of the heartbeat to make sure everything's OK. She had been in the medical field for quite some time; my father was in the service 20-something years. They got divorced when I was 10. I don't remember how I felt when that happened, I just remember not seeing them together anymore. I was living with my mom and two brothers. My mum used to work; she'd go in at five in the morning, come home at 6.30 in the evening and go straight to her room, turn on her TV and rest a bit, then she'd come out and make us a meal. She was a good mom, but she was tired. I was the type of kid that would go to school with a key around my neck, and if I lost that key I was stuck outside. I would unlock the door and make my own snacks until she got home. I was a very happy kid. I don't regret any of it. Now that I'm a Christian, I would want my dad there - that's the right thing - but as far as how my mom brought me up, I wouldn't change it. I loved it. I had good friends that lived next door, had a swimming pool; you can't go wrong with that."
Kim had her first exposure to church as a child. She remembered, "When I was a young girl, my mom used to put my brothers and me on a bus to go to Sunday school. I didn't know what was going on; I just saw donuts and colouring books and swing sets, and that was fun. Sometimes my mom would take us on Christmas or Resurrection Day to go to church. You've got certain clothes for church - maybe two dresses, one pair of shoes, and a couple of stockings. We would go, and I would see people shouting and praising God - I didn't know at the time they were praising God - and fall on the floor, slain in the Spirit. I got scared, I thought people were dying. My mom tapped my hand or pinched me, because, at that time, discipline was different. The pastor would preach real low then get loud and all of a sudden start yelling and scare people. I'd fall asleep in church and that's another pinch. Before the service was over, I was bruised."
When Kim reached her teenage years thoughts of church meetings and parental discipline became distant memories. She said, "I was rebellious, I didn't care for school. I would look at everybody else's paper, not study, take the calculator out when the teacher said you can't. I used to be good in sports; I ran track, I did ROTC, which was a pre-military training, and I did dance. That helped me with my grades because they said, 'If you don't pass your classes, you cannot participate in sports'. I really wanted to participate, so that helped me to become more serious and pay attention. During high school I met my husband. I ran away, and my mom couldn't put up with it, so she told my dad to take over. My dad and my step-mom tried to raise me. I still was rebellious because I had this boyfriend Mario and they don't know what they're talking about. At this age now I apologise to them both, but back then I didn't really care. I got pregnant when I was 16."
How Kim and Mario came to get married is a little confused. "We both have different stories; it's like the synoptic gospels. I saw it as he asked me to marry him, but he says I asked him to marry me. I don't remember that, but we're married; it worked. I had to walk the stage pregnant on my graduation day. It was pretty tough, because just to get my diploma I had to enrol in the night-school and then go to a day-school. It was my fault because I kept missing school. They asked me, 'Why do you keep missing school?' I said, 'I think I'm pregnant' just to get me out of the problem. But it just so happened to be I was pregnant, so I was like, 'Great! I'm really pregnant!' It fixed the problem of me being absent too much. They said, 'We're going to have to enrol you in night-school because you missed so much'."
Kim continued, "Mario's been working since he was 13. He fixes cars - body and paint. He has three other brothers and they all had to help their dad in the business. After we married I had Jasmine and then later Rico, our son, and then Mariah, our youngest." Even as a teenage bride Kim was drawn to music, particularly Prince. She said, "I used to listen to Prince and would try to mimic Janet [Jackson] - especially when she did 'Rhythm Nation' and 'Control'. An empty toilet paper holder was my microphone. I would put on the album and you could hear the crackling on the 45s. Some people would say, 'You have a nice voice'. You're your own worst critic, so I'm like, 'I don't know, I'm not too comfortable'. I did talent shows; I sang Debbie Boone, "You Light Up My Life". I won first place on that, but the record was playing along so if I forgot anything it was like, 'Debbie, take it away'. I did lip-syncing - Barbara Streisand, "Second Hand Rose". My mom taught me; we used to call it pantomime. I won first on that as well. I did a Prince song, "1999", in elementary and I won sixth on that, so I don't think they liked that so much."
Kim began writing songs and over the next few years penned close to 500, all of which she faithfully registered in the Library of Congress. She even had a chance to make a couple of small time records, "Baby, Please" and "Electricity". Said Kim, somewhat ruefully, "I ran into a woman who said to me, "I've still got your song!' I was thinking, 'just give me that thing so I can burn it!'"
With dreams of becoming the next Janet Jackson behind her and her demos and Library of Congress certificates gathering dust in a shoebox Kim tried her best to be a good wife and a mother to her three young children. Then, in her late 20s, she had a chance encounter which was to prove very significant for her future life. She remembered, "I was at a grocery store and there was a gentleman passing out Bible tracts, Chic Publications. I saw him talking to a couple of people and I knew he was this Bible man, preaching to people. I was with my basket of groceries and I saw my car. I was like, 'I just need to get to my car, if this man doesn't bother me it will make my day'. I tell people that I said the craziest prayer. When he was coming towards me, I said, 'Lord, get this man away from me'. I didn't want him near me. I knew about prayer. My mom had passed in '94 in our home. I went digging for things I learnt as a child. I knew 'Our Father which art in Heaven'; I knew that God existed; I'd heard of Jesus. So when she was passing away, I prayed, 'Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name', because I was asking God to not let it happen - don't let her die. That didn't happen. She sort of stared like she saw something in amazement. I'm not saved, so I'm looking at her like, 'What is she seeing?' I thought someone was standing behind me, so I turned. I know something was there because she would not stop staring at it.
"Anyway, this gentleman with the tracts handed me one. I had a basket-full of groceries and I didn't have time for that. You get the door-to-door people: 'Do you know about Jesus?' I had people pray for me, but I didn't know what I was doing - I didn't really get it. Anyway this gentleman said, 'God bless, here you go,' - that's it. He was strange to me because he was happy. He was skipping along the parking lot, and I'm looking at him like, 'Why is this guy happy like he did some great thing?'"
The tract was a comic book. Commented Kim, "God knows what he's doing. If you were to give me an encyclopedia, I'd have put it somewhere and forgotten it and it would have been sitting there for years collecting dust. But I got in my car and flipped through it. I put it in the middle of the seat and said, 'I'm going to read that when I get home'. The comic showed a man repenting. No man has seen God, so they put a drawing to let you know this is supposed to be God, and it shows a sinner repenting. I got to the end of the book and I waited to do the prayer, because I wanted to wait until everybody left. The house was empty, and I think that was God giving me grace. I accepted Christ."
"When I prayed the prayer, I was very aware. The things that I didn't take notice of before were now like, 'Why am I doing that? I shouldn't be doing that. Why do I want to do that?' A while back my husband introduced me to the funny cigarettes; I didn't want to do that no more. On Halloween we were at my mother-in-law's house, and my husband had got hold of some acid. I was still very young in Christ, so I took it. I thought I dropped it - it was shaped like a little pill - so I said, 'Give me another'. I got another. Later on it was the worst night in history: I thought I was actually dying. What's crazy is before that happened I didn't care if I lived or died, because I saw my mom die. I didn't have hallucinations, I was the hallucination: I was acting crazy. My heart began to beat out of my chest. I was feeling like I was passing out then I would come back, and I actually thought I was dying. I prayed, 'Lord, I don't want to die.' I started seeing my kids. I didn't want to die. I told my husband, 'Take me to do the doctor, take me to the hospital.' He said, 'No! We're going to get in trouble.' That was the longest night. After that happened, when my husband rolled the funny cigarette I covered my mouth and ran. I made a promise, 'Lord, if you get me out of this, I will never do this again'. And I didn't: that was it."
A couple of months after Kim's conversion her husband became a Christian. She explained, "After I had received Christ I met another gentleman. He came in front of our house, and it's weird because I didn't see where this man came from. I was outside and I'm trying to figure out who's this guy. I'm figuring he's a salesman. He was not talking like a sales pitch. He told me I had to go to church, I had to read my Word; his wife and him would be praying for me. He told me to tell the others about salvation. I told him about my mom, what happened, and he said, 'There's nothing we can do about that'. When you say you've had a loved one pass on, I've never heard anybody say, 'There's nothing we can do about that'. I usually hear people say, 'I'm so sorry to hear that'. So it was sort of a weird conversation. At that moment I was like, 'OK, you're sort of cold, but let's continue with this conversation'. He started talking to me about God's throne, how beautiful it is. I had an orange Mustang, and it had another coat over it - a clear coat with gold sparkles - and if the sun hit it a certain way it turned like gold. He said, 'That right there is like God's throne.' After he left, I automatically said, 'Lord, if this man disappears, I'm going to pass out in the middle of the street', because I didn't know what this man was about. I looked to make sure he was walking to another door. So I started going to church, and that's when my husband started hearing the Word as well."
Kim continued, "My first church, we went to a Pentecostal church, because it was right up the street. I don't have any problem with the Pentecostal church, but they put us right in the front, which is not the best place for a new babe: they're nervous to begin with. So we're already scared and then we're in front, on the spotlight. The pastor starts pointing out people who he wants to slay in the Spirit. We see people falling like flies - boom boom boom - and I'm like, 'Oh no! They're going to pick us.' At that moment I said, 'Lord, if it's not you, I'm not going to fall. If it is you, there's nothing I can do but fall. But it's going to be pretty embarrassing for this pastor if he's not really doing this. If this man picks me, I feel so sorry for him: I'm not going to fall for the sake of making him look good.' Sometimes people might feel under pressure; I'm not saying everybody is doing that. So while they were slaying in the Spirit, we sort of slipped out. My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'That was a close one!' For sure my husband would have got picked because he has a long ponytail, he stands out. We attended another church and that became our home."
Showing page 1 of 2