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
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
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
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.