Sevin will set out this summer to do what few, if any have done before.
The gospel rap veteran will be touring over 60 cities, communicating the gospel to the most unreached neighborhoods of America. With the theme based on his recent album Pray 4 My Hood, Sevin and HOGMOB Ministries will be hosting block parties around the country offering hope and love in the midst of darkness.
“A lot of people in the hood, they are fully aware that they need change,” he said. “Now, whether they are prepared for what that change looks like, that’s another story, but at least they’re to a place of life where most of them are living in the consequences of their actions.”
Sevin has always used his talent for outreach. The state of his city, Sacramento, has spurred him on to create the Pray 4 My Hood concept. He said that Northern California is one of the most unchurched regions in the United States. The city is drug-infested and gang-infested while unemployment is rampant.
“This is where God saved me from, and this is where He sent me to,” Sevin said.
Most of the features on the album are people Sevin has never worked with before. He said there is immense pressure for Christians to conform to a certain standard when going into inner-city ministry. He noticed a lack of genuineness in Christian hip hop.
“It’s no different than the gangster rap world,” he said. “You got a bunch of cats running they mouth about stuff that they don’t really do. It’s the same thing in Christian music. You got guys jumping in the booth acting like they’re just the biggest street ministers you’ve ever seen, but you’ll never see them outside of a youth group doing much of anything.”
Therefore, on his new album, Sevin wanted to show that there are some people who really do understand the hood and, therefore, are the ones who are most fit to reach it.
“It was just on my heart to do,” he said, “create a work of art that could showcase some of these street ministers and then also hopefully open up some doors for them to be able to walk in their lane in the future more effectively.”
Although some of the songs have the “Explicit” tag next to them on iTunes, Sevin said it does not mean that his music is unholy. He uses strong language but all with a purpose.
“I do use terminology sometimes that is native to my culture, and in another culture, those terminologies might be offensive,” he said. “I tell people, you got the right to not listen to something, but you don’t have the right to say that something is sin. Only God can say that. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it sin.”
The single, “Bout Whateva,” explains Sevin’s willingness to submit to whatever God calls him to, and he asks his listeners to do the same thing. He says the Bible calls Christians to live free from fear.
“Coming from the gang life, coming from the street life,” the rapper said, “you learn very quickly that you better be willing to go to extreme lengths to do whatever it is that you’re doing out here, so coming to Christ, it’s no different.”
The reason Sevin created HOGMOB Ministries was to create a family for himself. He grew up with a small family — no cousins or aunt and uncles around. He found community in gang life, which fulfilled what he was missing at home. When he left this place of comfort because of his newfound faith in Christ, he was all alone.
“When God pulled me out of that, I was the only one,” Sevin said. “None of my other homies came to Christ. I was by myself. I basically was blessed by God to start a movement that built a family structure around me of cats who were at least open to a better way of life and different things like that. Over time, it ended up growing far beyond anything that I thought of when it first got started. It turned into just being a Christian clique to being this global organization.”
Now, HOGMOB (Hooked On God / Ministry Over Bizness) consists of eight artists including Sevin and Bizzle. Each member not only talks about his faith, but is also required to live it out. The members of HOGMOB are disciple leaders, go on mission tours every year, provide Bible studies and other resources to inner city ministries and assist in other ministries such as that for the homeless and prostitute rehabilitation.
“It’s a beautiful thing what God has done with this kinda like ragtag group of individuals,” Sevin said.
The lessons from the street are countless. Sevin did not go to seminary, but uses his life experiences to teach others about God. Sevin was homeless for 12 years but now says that it has made him “built for the road.”
“This is home to us as far as just jumping in a car going couch to couch, spot to spot,” he said. “This is our comfort zone. Being still is more of a challenge than moving around a lot of times.”
This upcoming mission tour will be the largest yet, unlike previous tours, will have little church involvement. Sevin has built up relationships across the country throughout his 30-plus-project career, so he is using these connections to bring a block party to he most unreached neighborhoods in America. He will be handing out about 10,000 Pray 4 My Hood CDs and thousands of correlating Bible studies.
At each block party, Sevin and his team will be presenting the gospel and also apologizing on behalf of the church for any wrong that has been done to the community in the name of Jesus Christ. They will lead the community in prayer for healing and peace.
Even though Sevin admitted he faced discouragement early in his career, he said it was because he didn’t have his priorities straight. He feels much more confident now, even when there aren’t tangible consequences of his work. Sevin says his main job is to plant seeds and water them.
Recently, he baptized a close friend of his, and another friend was just released from prison and gave his life to Christ. Seeing his ministry bear fruit like this is what spurs Sevin on. He is looking forward to reaching even more souls this summer.
“In moments like this where God just gives us these tremendous opportunities to just be groundbreaking and really do something that has never really been done before in this manner,” he said. “I think we should jump at those opportunities.”