Mike Rimmer met up with The Cross Movement's PHANATIK and got the low down on his solo project.
Every member of Philadelphia's holy hip-hop pioneers The Cross Movement is in the process of releasing a solo album. A few months back I spoke to The Movement's Phanatik and pitched him some questions about his ministry and his solo project 'The Incredible Walk'.
The Cross Movement are all doing solo albums. How do you balance the
relationship between solo artist and group member?
The goal when we first came together was that we were individual artists first, but there was strength in numbers. We were having a hard time being accepted in the Church and a hard time in the regular hip-hop culture as well. The Church would say, 'Ah, you got that hip-hop wit'chou!' and the hip-hop community would say, 'Ah, you got that Jesus wit'chou!' So it was hard for us to get accepted. So we found strength and camaraderie in numbers. But when we do finally get to a place where they're accepting what we're doing, we'll branch off and still give them the individual flavours on our own albums.
Where were you when you heard your first ever hip-hop song?
I have two pivotal moments that I remember. Firstly in early hip-hop there was the Roxanne battles. There was Roxanne, then there was Roxanne Shante and then there was The Real Roxanne. These two girls with the name Roxanne going back and forth, battling about who was the real Roxanne. One day my dad was taking us to school in his station-wagon, and they had just finished playing a song. I heard one of the disc-jocks come on after the song and say, "Man, if I keep hearing Roxanne so much, I think my ears are going to need a crutch!" And as corny as it was, I was young and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was seven years old and I said, "Wow! He just made that up! You can do that?!" I had no idea about hip-hop. I was in Philly so I had no idea about this culture in New York. I just said, 'Something's going on.' Then about two years later somebody hit me off with a Beastie Boys tape, and then I knew it was on.
How did you became a Christian?
It was common in the States to grow up and on Sundays, have a mother that would drag you to church. My mother didn't have to drag me. Church was fun because there was a whole group of people there the same age as me. So church was just another place to be cool. I had the neighbourhood, I had school AND church. I was actually trying to use God to get more popular. Somebody asked me to do something at the church and I thought that if I read the Bible before I did what they asked me to do, I'd have something deep to say and it'd make me more popular! So here I am thinking I'm about to pimp God and I opened the Bible for the first time on my own, and got stuck. I started reading things that had to do about eternity, and I had never thought about eternity before. That blew my mind! I literally looked up and said, "God, who are you? You're not who I thought you were. You're unlike me." My pastime changed from hangin' outside on the block doing dirt, to sittin' in the house trying to find more verses about eternity. And by God's grace he led me to more verses that just talked about himself and got me stuck on him. And progressively, I understood the Gospel. I was 15 years old.
What are you trying to achieve with the album?
My aim is just to paint a graphic picture of the Christian life; to paint a graphic picture of God's views on life. So that the person who's listening, if they're a Christian, they end up saying, "You know what? I agree with that." Sometimes you just need to hear it coming from someone else so you can say amen. For someone who's not a Christian? I want to help them to say, "Man! Is that what I've been running from?! Is that what I thought I was doing all the time?! If it's really like that maybe I haven't been a Christian?"