Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
of the Realm
Interviewed by Jessica Heikoop
"I've basically been into rap my whole life. I like a lot of other genres of music; I'm a very collective person. But rap's always where my heart has been. It's where I feel I need to be, what I want to do and listen to." So says Chris Stacey of Knights of the Realm.
The Knights of the Realm have been around for years; Chris Stacey has been doing this since he was a kid. At nine years old he did his first song and made a music video. He now has his degree in recording engineering and multi-media, and produces all the music in his recordings, along with working on many other artists' projects.
The band's continuous hard work and dedication has paid off. The Knights of the Realm had the first nationally distributed Christian hip-hop album in Canada. They play live shows as much as possible where they have fun and try to show people what hip-hop is all about. They don't get up and preach, they don't even necessarily make themselves known as "Christian artists," yet they get the point across quite clearly, and connect with Christians and non-Christians alike.
"Instead of letting the music speak, and the lyrics, like 'Jesus this, Jesus that,' why not let our lifestyles speak instead? When we're onstage, when we're interacting with people and stuff, I want to be a Christian doing hip-hop, not a Christian hip-hop artist," he continues, "We're just telling people we love hip-hop and we're Christians. Just because we rap about God, it's not that we want to tell you, you have to become a Christian. We love hip-hop, we love doing the music and we love God first and foremost. So obviously God's going to come out in our lifestyle. We're not trying to write about God, we're not saying, 'oh what can I say from the Bible?' But when we write, that's what comes out."
Stacey says he doesn't mind being labeled as a Christian artist, "I guess that's what I asked for when I did my first album," but he says, "This album coming up is more personal. I feel like I'm going to lose a lot of Christian audiences, I don't know why, I just have that gut feeling. I'll probably never be able to play on Huntley Street again," he laughs, "No it's probably not that bad." "I have a lot of non-Christian artists on it who are doing stuff with me but I find that's the way I witness to those people. We're knights of the kingdom; that's what Knights of the Realm means, Knights of the Kingdom of God. We're trying to tell people what we've found, but we're trying to do it in a subliminal way. We're not throwing a Bible at them and preaching. We'll let our lifestyle and our music do the talking."
Because of the hip-hop music stereotype, they tend to get suspicious looks. Stacey explains, "It's funny. We were in Winnipeg when we opened up for P.O.D. We went around with our video camera - we always just do stupid things - so we went around and there was a cop there and we went up to her and were like 'Oh, how did you enjoy Knights of the Realm?' and she was like 'I hated them,' and we were like 'Oh why?' and she's like, 'Well their music was good, but they reminded me of the L.A. gangs.'" He laughs then continues, "We were laughing because she didn't know it was us and then we told her and she was like, 'Oh I'm sorry.' But with hip-hop bad kids, drugs and stuff like that go hand in hand. That's the culture we're trying to reach."
He continues with another story, "We were supposed to do a concert down at the Sound of Music Festival lake shore but they didn't want us to perform because they didn't want us to draw the wrong crowd. Meanwhile, the crowd is still there, still smoking drugs and fighting. And we figure, why not give them something to do instead of fight and smoke drugs? Everyone always thinks I'm bad and stuff like that. We're all just really nice kids."
At the same time as they are getting criticized, their music is dismissed by others because they're Christians. "I've got a couple of songs on the new album that are talking about the whole Christian music thing. One of the songs is going out to everyone who takes offence to us rapping about our lifestyle and about God. It's funny because it's like a radio version; everything's bleeped out that has to do with Jesus." The Knights of the Realm are trying to give a positive outlook to everyone through their music. Rather than focusing on "big screen TV's, girls, money and stuff like that" they are focusing on what matters. He says, "We're trying to make positive music for young kids, or whoever wants to listen in the hip-hop culture. That's what our next album's going to be about."
Stacey talked a bit about the new album, which is going to be released in September. "I was hoping to have the album done for Jesus Manifest, but I've doing so many other people's projects it's hard to just work on mine. I'm taking my time with this album to make sure it's done right," he continues, "It's going to be a good album. The cover is going to be done in Japanimation. The inside is going to be a comic book. I'm not sure who's on it yet, but there's a whole lot of people I'm working with right now."
Playing live is a huge part of the Knights music. With the release of the album they will be touring, either in September or next spring. Other upcoming appearances include Jesus Manifest in Winnipeg, as well as Kingdom Bound in the States. They also play many shows locally in churches and clubs. Stacey says they love playing live. They have fun on stage and joke around, and "show people what hip-hop's about."
Another musical involvement for Stacey is a hip-hop television show, airing Saturdays on CTS. "It's called Element 5. There are four elements in hip-hop. There's break dancing, graffiti, D.J.ing, and M.C.ing, but we're saying there needs to be a fifth element in there, and that's God. So that's why it's called Element 5. We don't preach a lot on the show, we don't read from the Bible, we just let the music do the talking," he continues, "We've had a lot of great response; it's the most watched show right now on CTS on Saturdays, which is really cool. It's just a new show, it started in January, so it's just building. We keep seeing the ratings going up. We're working on the next season right now. We're booking [many] different bands. We're trying to get Mary Mary and all those bands, so it's going to be cool."
With their new album, a tour, and more live shows, you can certainly expect to see more of Knights of the Realm in the future out there doing what they know and love, and doing it in a good way.