Sweat dripped down Dre Murray’s forehead. At the exact same time, he shuddered and shivered.

“Jesus Christ is the real deal,” Dre’s friend, James had said.

Could a life as a Christian really be possible? It was certainly better than the life he had been living; partying, drinking and trying to sell drugs on a Christian campus.

The coughing started up again. Jolts of flem crawled around Dre’s lungs like out of control maggots. He was dealing with pneumonia and had been bedridden for a week.

“Please, God, please! Just help me?”

He felt the burning tears well up as he thought more about what his friend had said. Yes, this would be the turning point. This defining moment of desperation and pain would defy his years of struggle against God.

Broken and changed, Dre Murray would leave behind the sickening lifestyle he was accustomed to living.

Southern Lights: The Story of Dre

Dre Murray grew up in a single-parent home outside of Houston and lived with his grandmother’s family. From the age of two years old, he witnessed many memories that he couldn’t really comprehend at the time. South Park was not only the place of residence for him and his family, but it was also where numerous rappers resided.

“We had a number of family members living together, so it was a full house,” Murray told Rapzilla. “All of these personalities in one house caused me to soak it all in, being the youngest. We were usually the party house; the one house that everybody comes to because music is always playing, people are always dancing, alcohol is always around. My mom and grandmother tried to steer me in the right direction, but evil was still there. A lot of them would tell me to do what they said, not what they did.”

During the same time Dre was growing up, hip hop was taking off. Crack cocaine also hit the streets.

On one hand, there were people partying, but on the other hand, there were people beginning to deteriorate like zombies. They would walk up and down the streets looking for crack cocaine. Dre’s neighborhood was known for it being called basin and it was the popular topic of conversation because most people didn’t know much about it. As time went on, neighborhoods would start to see the effects of it.

“As I got older,” Murray said, “I ventured out into the world, myself. I’d walk around my neighborhood and just see all kinds of things. I had a gift of writing early on so I’d always write, and my brother would encourage me to write. That’s how I started getting into rapping.

“At first it started off as just poetry and freestyling but then it turned into wanting to do songs. One of my cousins lived out on the east side. His dad had a bunch of equipment. We used to take his equipment and spend the entire weekend recording demos. We did that for a long time and that’s how I sharpened my craft.”

Along with writing, Dre fell in love with sports. Basketball was his main sport once he got into high school. It would take him away from the negative things in his neighborhood and allow him to travel to various locations. Eventually, he accepted a scholarship at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma.

“My grandmother wanted me to go to this school in Oklahoma before she passed away,” Murray said. “She wanted me to go because it was a Christian school and she wanted me to get out of Texas.”

Dre had always known that there was a God and was well aware of the wrong he was doing. Yet, he just couldn’t seem to find anybody that would show him another way of living life. It appeared to him that everybody who claimed to be a Christian acted like they were untouchable superheroes.

While pursuing music with his cousin, the cousin got locked up. This put music plans on hold.

“We had plans to do a group album,” Murray said, “and we were getting looked at by some labels in Houston. When he went away to jail, I really started to think about things as far as Christianity and God.

“My older brother became a Christian and started handing me Christian music, which I started listening to. I started getting discipled at church and later on got married my senior year of college. My basketball teammate, James, and his parents were pastors and were really close to us as well. From there I pursued the life God had wanted for me all along.”

The story of Dre Murray continues today. He serves his community, doing outreach. He continues to pursue Christian hip hop as a means of reaching locations that would otherwise be ignorant of Christianity, like Dre had once been in his own life.

I-610: Cruising Camaraderie

Southern Lights: Overexposed ​contains a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Some of the people involved had words to describe Dre Murray:

“Dre is strong in feeling the burdens of people and communicating those in a way that tugs on the emotions of the individual,” said Adam Thomason, Collision Records’ CEO. “Dre has the gift of having a good voice that he can flip and manipulate many ways. He has good word choice and sentence juxtaposition for punchlines that are witty but not over one’s head. On the album, Dre brings his story and experiences through storytelling to connect the listener in a way that is needed for identification and hope.”

“Dre has always been a mature artist,” Wit said, “and I have always felt like he is ahead of his time. Whenever he comes on a song, no matter what kind of listener or age group you are in, he demands your attention. Whether he’s on a video, a song, a feature, he’s one of those few artists that has the gift of presence.”

“Dre is an authentic replica of what it is to be from the south,” Reconcile said. “He is an intellectual, a philosopher, very wise and an expert when it comes to everything from the south.”

A Southern Exposé

Southern Lights: Overexposed​ stems from Dre Murray and Alex Faith’s individual journeys and adventures together as brothers. If they could leave a message for those who listen to this album, it would be a message of acquisition. They would like for everyone to continually acquire knowledge about different cultures and races — not only to acquire, but to share that information of hope with as many people as possible.

“One particular time we performed in a maximum security prison,” Murray said, “and we had come from a conference where a lot of kids had no idea who we were. One thing I got upset about was that we got caught up in this hip hop bubble. Being in that maximum security prison and having conversations with some of those guys made me realize that I have to speak up and give the information from my own story.

“We don’t normally have the information that goes on in those environments. A lot of other cultures just don’t know other cultures. It’s like we perish from a lack of knowledge. Alex and I have a passion to give the right information to open up their eyes and give them more perspective; how much more there is in this world and how big it really is.”

“Life can be perceived as very dark,” Faith said. “The overexposed comes into play when Christ comes into your life. I would hope that people would take away from this album that the gospel is overwhelming in relation to the lifestyle that you are living in. Dre and I grew up in an environment that wasn’t really in the Christian faith. Even if you are raised in the Christian faith, my hope is that Christ comes in and takes you to a better life in Him.”

“This is the most polarizing album that Collision Records has ever put out,” Wit said. “You can talk about racism all you want but when you are transparent like these guys on Collision, you hear it. When Dre comes on in the first song, one of the most powerful lines is, ‘My brother told me that my skin was my sin.’ That line, right there, is crazy. In Christian circles, it’s not cool to talk about these things. This album will start provoking a lot of conversations that need to be taking place in a lot of circles and churches. I think this album is a step in the right direction.”

In case you missed it: Alex Faith, Collision show growth on ‘Southern Lights: Overexposed’

Buy Southern Lights: Overexposed on iTunes. Watch the visual album for Southern Lights: Overexposed, the first of its kind in Christian hip hop, here.