Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
"Hip Hopcrasy" is an in-your-face song with rhymes like, "You are the one spitting on the beat/Claiming you are from the street." The lyric was authored by Chuckie P, one of the innovators of Hip Hop and Rap music sixteen years ago. The same man who was born Chuckie Perez talked about the church he pastors and said, "Our motto is, "loving God, loving people, loving life."
With the lyric Perez takes a direct jab at the music industry and artists who write lyrics that spell out issues that they have no first hand experience with. "Some of the people doing urban music don't live in an urban environment and they never see any of it," Perez said. He believes that a lot of artists doing Rap and Hip Hop today lack authenticity and simply lay down a beat because it is cool.
Perez is proud of his heritage and he considers his ethnic influences to be much broader than his Hispanic father and Texan mother. He said, "I grew up in Corona California, an area of mixed ethnic (groups)." Perez recalled his youthful days growing up forty-five miles south of the City of Angels, "When I was growing up my best friend was African American and in high school a lot of my friends were African American. I grew up around a lot of R&B and different styles of music. That influenced me a lot."
Perez said he has taken a lot of criticism because of the diversity of his music. "I take pride in that. I have never enjoyed a record where everything sounds the same. I love music that moves you spiritually, makes you think and makes you move physically. I am passionate about that. I write about whatever I am going through."
He says critics have often claimed that his music isn't 'Christian' enough. "To me Christian music is anything that is a witness, anything that inspires you or moves you," Perez says. He then makes the point that as long as he is in a righteous relationship with God and has a clean heart then his music should be considered as coming from God.
The title song from his CD A Page From My Life was panned. His detractors said he was bragging. Perez's response was, "No I am just sharing what my everyday life is like. There is a part of that song that says on Monday, Tuesday (he goes through the days of the week) and on Sunday I preach the Word. All it was (intended to be) was a fun song. There is nobody doing just fun music. Everything does not have to have the name of Jesus in it in order to be Christian."
His musical statements are just as hard hitting as his opinions. He describes his song "The Party," "It talks about a girl whose whole life consisted of clubbing. She comes to know the Lord and she continues to party but now it is a different kind of party. The song says it is okay to be down here on earth rejoicing. Just because you become a Christian doesn't mean all the fun ends."
The song "Couldn't Keep Me Down" chronicles the life of Chuckie P the artist. He blew up Nashville with his first showcase performance at GMA week sixteen years ago. It looked like he was well on his way to being the next big name in the Christian music industry. He says of that first glimmer of fame, "The next day people were coming up to me nonstop. It freaked me out. I thought this is the coolest. I went back on a high (note) then reality set in as to how the music business works. I wasn't accepted everywhere. I started getting rejected. I went places and they didn't want me. They would say, "You are Hispanic and we didn't know that. The next year at GMA I was yesterday's news."
By his own admission he spent the next few years writing cheesy market driven songs that really did not reflect his heart. He said, "I wasn't enjoying it anymore. I wasn't doing it for the right reasons. I was trying to have the next great record. I just said forget this, it isn't fun anymore."
Discouraged and disenchanted with the Christian music scene Perez walked away for ten years. He started writing music for television and film. However as his song "Couldn't Keep Me Down" said, "Guess who's back in town?...that's right all, Chuckie P's back in the house." P said, "Now I have something to say. I went into the studio and all the songs (for A Page From My Life) came within a matter of days."
Even though he got a rough ride from the record labels he has a solid word of advice for young artists. He said, "I think if you are a brand new artist it is wise to establish yourself by getting with a label. A label still goes after talent. When I first started off there were a lot of people that I knew who were doing CDs in their garage. They would (do gigs) and sell these cheese ball CDs. It was cheesy quality. They felt like they were accomplishing a lot. I don't want it (the industry) to go that route. I don't want the door to be open for a lot of wannabes just because now they have a little home studio in their computers. Maybe I am wrong but I am not yet comfortable with (that approach)."
Today Perez wears several hats. He is a husband, father, singer /songwriter and pastors the West Coast Community Church in San Bernardino California. He also does production work for other artists. He is putting the final touches on a new CD and said, "This next record that I am doing is going to be as urban, R&B and as praise and worship as I have ever been. I am having fun now and that's why I am back. I love soul, I love God, I love ministry. I have seen people's lives changed and I love that part of it.. I think being a pastor keeps me grounded."
His family also keeps him in touch with what really is important in life. He said the inspiration for the song "Legacy" came from, "Watching my four year old son. I noticed he started mimicking everything that I do. If I got angry he would start doing the same thing. I thought about the power of influence. I thought about different people I know, believers and non believers and the choices that we make. I thought about how they affect others including our children. I wanted a song that says, 'It doesn't matter if you have made mistakes in the past all that matters is what you leave in the future.'"
With lively tunes such as "My People" and a brand new album in the making I think there is a lot of Chuckie Perez in our future. That is a good thing!
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.