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Sean Slaughter Interview

As Rap and Hip Hop music have become fashionable, the trend often attracts artists who have no connection with the music's roots. Sean Slaughter is from the 'hood. In his mid-teens he was hanging out with crack dealers, doing drugs, packing a gun, committing B&E's and tasting everything else that world brings. Seven years after he committed his life to Christ in 1999, Slaughter delivers authenticity to his rhymin' and beats. Do you know what I'm saying?
"1999 was a big year for me because I finally stopped running, I finally gave up. Over the previous couple of years I had been drinking and smoking heavily. I had been in a couple of drinking and driving car accidents. When I was at college I had a gun pulled on me and the bullets fell out. I had been in a lot of crazy scenarios," said the self-dubbed Holy Hip Hop artist.
Slaughter's teenage and college years by his own admission were a mess. Although he was a star high school athlete and received a football scholarship to the University of Rhode Island, he flunked and dropped out during his second year. Most of his two years at college were filled with heavy drinking and partying. 
When he returned home, he returned to the old crowd in the 'hood; the drug dealers and other criminals. Somehow, while all this was going on, he managed to graduate with high marks in sound engineering from an audio school. Upon graduation he worked on several projects with New York based rappers the Wu-Tang Clan. 
In 1997 he started traveling with his father, the legendary southern gospel singer Alvin Slaughter. "He needed someone to go on the road with him and he reluctantly took me. I didn't want to go but I needed the money. For two years I went on the road with him. I wasn't saved (at the time)," he says. To hear Alvin tell the story in concert is funny but he is quick to convey it wasn't so funny back then. Unknown to his father, Sean Slaughter was still involved in activities that, in Sean's own words, had the potential to destroy his father's ministry.
Slaughter said, "God had much grace on my pops and definitely on me. I hadn't gone to church in four or five years but when I started traveling (with Alvin) I was in church three times a week. I got to be in all kinds of churches, black, white and different denominations. I saw the best of the best and the worst of the worst. I feel it was the (churches) that had integrity and the power of God was present that (made a difference in me). I found myself changing and I didn't know why I was changing. I started questioning what I was doing. It is like Paul says in the Bible (he paraphrased) 'I had scales on my eyes and now they have been taken off.' Sometimes you do things without thinking of the consequence or the future."
Sean was still running with the wrong crowd when he wasn't on the road but all that came to an abrupt end in 1999. "I got into an argument with one of my boys. We all wanted to be tough guys, (carryied) guns and wanted to be thugs. I feared for my life because I didn't want to get shot, to shoot anybody or go to jail. That is when the realization hit me, 'I don't want to be in this man, this is ridiculous.' (About) that time we were contacted by a Christian rapper who wanted to buy some beats from me. I went to her house to sell her some beats and she gave me the Word," he said. Slaughter said it was that culmination of events on that February day in 1999 that ultimately led to his getting out of his former lifestyle permanently and turning his life over to Christ.
Slaughter however hasn't forgotten about the boys in the 'hood. Today, along with wife Kim, he has a growing ministry to youth in detention centers. Every month the couple visit and provide a ministry that may consist of a concert, spoken word or discipleship program. Slaughter's music is the sound of the street. "There are kids who were born in the 'eighties whose first exposure to music was Hip Hop music. I have been able to use the music to catch the ear of the generation," he said. 
Slaughter observed, "You will find some of the brightest kids in detention centers. They just hooked up with the wrong people, at the wrong place and at the wrong time." When preparing for his ministry to those living at the Newport News Detention Center, Slaughter got to thinking, "How cool it would be for us to play Holy Hip Hop for a bunch of cats that are listening to Hip Hop anyway? Hip Hop and detention centers seemed like a perfect fit. It is like a treat for them and we can go in, have fun and freestyle. Most importantly, we can get across the message that, "You don't have to come back here. You can have freedom through Christ. It is something that I will do as long as I am on this earth."
Slaughter wants to give young people alternative rhymes to the raps of some mainstream artists who degrade women and focus on sex, drugs and violence. "I feel my music is different from regular Hip Hop music because we talk about life but we give them answers in the form of Jesus Christ and the gospel," he said. He believes some people may listen to what is going down in a song when they wouldn't listen to the same message being delivered by a politician or preacher. 
I poses a difficult question to Slaughter, ' What would you say to those people who would diss Rap and Hip Hop as being an acceptable form of music for Christians to listen to?' At first his answer consisted of two words, "Lighten up!" After we recover from much laughter he said, "It is so easy to see where people's ideas can go wrong. You know what I'm saying? It doesn't bother me because a lot of the claims are unfounded. Those claims are (often) based on tradition or likes and dislikes. When you start calling tradition, likes and dislikes God, that's when you have a problem. I don't like country music but that doesn't mean all country music is from the devil. It is what it is. It comes with the territory. I consider myself to be a pioneer of the Holy Hip Hop beat because it hasn't reached the height it needs to reach yet. We are still forming and shaping it. Even though Holy Hip Hop has been around since the mid to late eighties we are still in the pioneer stage."
Sean Slaughter is rapidly becoming one of the most successful recording artists of our time. I asked him whether or not he thought his father's own success had been a help or a hindrance to his own career. "When it comes to my career he has given me the opportunity to minister. My father is the type of cat who only gives you the opportunity if you are prepared. The only reason I got to travel was because I was the top of my class graduating from audio school. Even when it came to rapping he only gave me the opportunity when I was prepared. For lack of a better word when he gives you those opportunities you better capitalize on them. When you do have an opportunity to go on stage and say something it is still your relationship with Christ, it is still your preparation with the lyrics and with the beat. You have to know what to say and how to speak. You make or break the opportunity," he said. 
Slaughter continued, "I have never been one to walk in my father's shadow or use my father to further myself. When I first went into Hip Hop circles, a lot of people didn't know I was Alvin Slaughter's son, they just respected me for my rhymes and raps. I know for me, when I hear of a preacher whose son or daughter is doing rap I think, 'It is going to be horrible and the only reason he is getting the opportunity is because of his father." We both broke into laughter as he said, "I know that is what I think and I don't want people putting that label on me without hearing my music first."
Sean Slaughter wants you to know he is proud of his father's accomplishments but he feels he has proved his own valuable ministry. The beat man said, "I do feel some pressure to make sure my lines, beat and the album are extra tight. It (being Alvin Slaughter's son) raised the bar because I know there will be some who will automatically discount me. It doesn't bother me at all because it pushes me, motivates me and makes me work hard." 
Sean Slaughter is a happy father to two-year-old baby-note, Lyric, and husband to Kim. He owns a small label, is business savvy and street smart. He is grateful for the personal opportunities away from music that his career has made possible. He said, "I have been able to travel to places most people have not. I have been to the Philippines, Africa and Australia. I am twenty-nine years old and I have been traveling for eight-and-one-half years.  I was in a park in Australia petting kangaroos, who the heck goes there?  I was in a stadium in Uganda doing a concert for 100,000 people. I was in Soweto, South Africa taking pictures of Nelson Mandela's house. What the heck is that about?" 
If I hadn't had the opportunity to sit with Sean Slaughter, later talk to him on the phone and exchange several emails, I might have found it difficult to believe the journey he took to get where he is today. However as someone once said to me we all travel different roads to get to God.

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. 


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