“I was facing 43 years in prison for attempted murder due to gang violence…I thought my life was over.” With matter of fact articulation and brutal honesty, Curt Kennedy isn’t shy about telling his testimony. The artist has been through more in his lifetime than would typically fit in one sitting. Born in D.C. and immersed in the street lifestyle, his lingo and slang quickly morphed to match his surroundings. After a broad daylight gang shooting resulting in the death of his friend, Curt’s life was close to ending. “I was in the courtroom waiting for the judge”, he told Rapzilla in an exclusive interview. “And my lawyer told me I would do at least 10 years.” Facing such bleak circumstances, Curt had a God-ordained realization. “I turned around and looked in the courtroom and it was empty,” he explained. “The Lord used that to show me that everyone who I stood for was gone and none of them were there. The judge dropped all the felony charges against me. I went from 43 years in prison to serving less than 4 months.”
This shocking twist of events seems to be a theme for Curt (who’s real last name is “Allen”). His life, artistry, ministry and influence have all been a unique demonstration of God’s glory and grace. After the clear understanding of God’s providence guiding His legal circumstances, Curt surrender to the call of the Lord. But that life change didn’t come without sacrifice. At the time of the shootings, he was in the midst of a Record label bidding war for his talents on the mic between mainstream hip hop powerhouses Def Jam and Bad Boy Records. After his court appearance, everything fizzled. “All my dreams got washed down the drain, but now I’m completely thankful for that,” he says with a chuckle. “I would have been dead if I got famous.” In demonstration of his thankfulness, the DC rapper submitted his talents to the Lord under the stage name “Voice”, releasing theologically-based art that allowed him to be connected with shai linne, DJ Essence, Trip Lee and many others in the budding movement. But that was only the start of his reach.
While his name was slowly gaining clout within CHH, the church took an even greater notice of his gifts. “In 2006, I became the first person to rap at John Piper’s church, and I kinda was the introduction to Reformed Rap.” he mentions casually. From Bad Boy to John Piper? It seems improbable to consider, but the Lord used the appearance to open up further doors of exposure to others who now share strong relationships with the well-known pastor. “Voice” continued to release albums rooted in sound doctrine until 2010, when he stepped away from the mic to pursue pastoral ministry.
With a new stage moniker and fresh focus, Curt Kennedy is poised to reintroduce himself to Christian Hip Hop as someone who speaks to the every day, gritty struggles of humanity. His new album, “Frustrated Christian”, released today on iTunes and is poised to break new ground by giving an honest take on what Christians are forced to go through. His frustration is not simply an earthly anxiety, but a Biblically-rooted reality. “Sometimes we don’t acknowledge the process that people are going through. It’s frustrating to try to honor the Lord when my sin doesn’t go away. It’s frustrating being black and Reformed. And frustration and struggle are okay.” By detailing various struggles such as leaving the hood, embracing sound theology and fighting temptation; Curt wants to address the subjects that the church is afraid to.
And the album is just a piece of his ministry. His book, “Does God Listen to Rap?”, released in November of 2013 and served as a theological case for the use of Hip Hop to glorify the Lord. The book was featured in World Magazine and surprisingly topped the Amazon charts in its category for 2 weeks. But “Voice” has retired, leaving the didactic lyrics off the tracks and keeping them in the books. While he “loves” the versatility of styles that Christian Hip Hop offers, he believes “Frustrated Christian” will be a bit of curveball for those who hear it. “I’m definitely taking a different approach now, but people will be able to see that there’s a pastor’s heart in Curt Kennedy.” From the courtroom and the eyes of mainstream hip hop to the John Piper’s church and the top of the Amazon book charts, one thing is for sure: Curt Kennedy has a compelling story to tell. Surely, the frustrated will be relieved to hear it.