Rapzilla caught up with Columbus native Tres Carter, a Rapzilla Freshman 15 honoree, to learn more about his faith and background as an artist.

Rapzilla: Did you start off as a formal poet or as a rapper?

Tres Carter: I was a writer first. I can remember myself writing poems as far back as age six or seven. Later on when I realized that my poetry sounded dope over beats, I began my transition into rap at the age of 12.

RZ: How do people usually react when you begin rapping and they see that you’re talking about Christ?

TC: I’ve noticed that people are overwhelmed immediately by how down to earth I am. I’ve been serving the Lord for about four years. Prior to that, I had no idea who the Lord was, which helps because I never feel like I’m above anyone. A gentleman even came up to me one night and told me that he was shocked because he had never seen anyone display who Christ was while “keeping it real.” The gentleman then went on to explain how he appreciated it and felt like he could connect with the message.

RZ: How did you get involved with Christianity?

TC: In 2010, I wasn’t going to church and I had no idea who God was. I was signed with a regionally known label at the time making secular music. God called me to move across the street from my girlfriend at the time’s church. I observed her get up every Sunday to go to church and consequently went along as well, assuming church was just a place to network and build contacts. Overtime, the words began to minister to my heart and meet a need that I didn’t even know I had. I continued to go to church because I began to realize that the word was true. However, simultaneously, my secular music began to reach a pinnacle with radio play and World Star Hip Hop video recognition. However, my friend Marlo Scott, who is a bass player for Christon Gray, challenged me and said, “How can you really think that God is blessing you if you make music that completely contradicts the life that he calls you to live?” Those words sparked conviction and I knew that I couldn’t play both sides of the fence.

RZ: How did you transition into Christian hip hop?

TC: I actually decided to put music down, delete all of my social media and simply pursue God. It was during that time that I met Christon Gray and Taelor Gray. These men exposed me to the Christian hip-hop world, showing me artists such as Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and Swift. Through those guys, I saw that you could have a gift of rapping and still be a believer. Realizing this sparked my first mixtape titled Rap Will Survive.

RZ: Was the process of creating a mixtape as a secular artist different than creating one as a Christian?

TC: The process was completely different. In the secular world, I could basically go in, roll up and talk about whatever I wanted to. As a Christian, I was still inspired by life and artists. However, I was more intentional and thoughtful with what I was writing. Ironically, I didn’t even intend on making a mixtape, I was simply writing every day. As I began to look at what I had, I went to Marlo and we ended up knocking out 19 songs in two weeks and putting out my mixtape Rap Will Survive.

RZ: How did you feel realizing that you could be a Christian and a rapper?

TC: Oh my gosh it felt great! I felt like I had to grow as a believer before I could even be comfortable talking about Christ in my music. Through that process, I realized that when God redeemed me, he made me unique and gave me my desires and interests in life. I began to look at rap differently knowing there was nobody on earth who God created exactly like me. I saw that rap was a tool to communicate any message. I rejoiced in the fact that I could be myself and communicate the gospel to others. One of my friends even got saved because of the music, which filled me with joy.

RZ: Was the title behind your EP Tres Will Survive influenced by your story of not being aborted?

TC: A lot went into that title. My story of almost being aborted was one layer. The main influence was from realizing that after I gave my life to Christ, life didn’t become easier, but actually harder. There were a lot of new changes in life and I had to lean on God in a new way. Gold does not become gold until it goes through fire and pressure, Tres Will Survive comes from that fiery place.