How God used Christian hip hop to change Michael and Karlon’s lives
Two readers submitted the following stories about how God used Christian hip hop to change their lives. Rapzilla will share more readers’ testimonies each Sunday.
Michael Roach’s story
What’s in a name?
I guess that’s a pretty general question, huh? My American/English name is Michael Roach, but my Korean name is 정성수 (in Romanization, that’s “Jung Sung Soo”), and for the longest time, I had always been searching for my identity. Here I was, a Korean-American adopted kid, raised in a predominantly Caucasian suburban community, feeling like I was always the odd-man out and the black sheep.
Everyone had their own thing where I came from. My best friends excelled really well in sports. My other friends excelled well in playing music and singing.
What did I do? What did I have to call my own? What was the thing that God had created me to do and represent for him?
I searched for a long, long time, and in that span, I found dancing to be quite a fun side-project. I didn’t take it seriously, but I did practice my Michael Jackson-kick in my basement when no one was around. Then when my mom was around, I felt like a complete idiot. But it felt kind of good — kind of right to me, dancing.
Fast forward to college, where I started b-boying, or “break dancing,” and at the beginning of my long journey with breaking, I was still struggling with identity — only this time, who I was as a man that believed in Jesus Christ, not who I was as a person on this earth. I didn’t know what God wanted me to do … what he was calling me to use for him.
Was it writing? I was an English major and I was good at that. But it felt kind of empty to me, spiritually. Was it dance? I sucked at it then, and it was a fun hobby, but nothing that I felt like God gifted me with it.
Then one day, as I was back home visiting my good, faith-driven friends, I started talking about breaking and how I liked it, and how I was learning about real hip-hop culture. One of my friends wasn’t a huge fan of Christian hip-hop at the time, but he listened to it and brought it up.
I was largely out of the know in terms of “Christian” hip hop. I was Christian. I liked the genre of hip hop, but secular hip-hop was what I listened to — even as a Christian, and I had no idea that the genre even existed.
Enter Trip Lee and the song “Snitch” — “What is THIS!?” I thought to myself. The production quality was awesome. The feel was secular, but it was all about God and faith. My eyes were opened, my mind was blown and my mission with b-boying changed completely.
I knew I wanted to break, I knew I wanted to do it for Christ and I knew I wanted to put myself to it and get good at it to do what “Snitch” had done for me; that is, show that Christians can live in the secular realm and be dope, but still represent for the greater and more important purpose of living intimately with Jesus Christ.
Now here I am, breaking and dancing in Seoul, South Korea, with a love for Christ. I’ve had my ups and downs. To tell you the truth, recently, I took a two-month break from breaking because I was idolizing it too much, and the success I was starting to build from it.
I was convinced after a ton of hard prayer that I needed to quit for good, but suffice to say God always found ways to bring me back and showed me he opens doors and has changed my life for the better. He’s taught me how to prioritize him first and foremost over everything, and the intimacy I have with him now is astounding.
But it all started with that Trip Lee track. Had it not been for that track, I wouldn’t be so devoted to serving with b-boying, and I wouldn’t know the joys of hip hop through a Christ-centered lens.
If you hate your sin, you can play this song /
Hate your sin, you just say this homes /
I’m a snitch, ain’t ashamed of that
Unashamed is what I am. And every time I break, every time I do something in my weird style of breaking and people ask me about it, I am more than happy to use it as a vehicle to lay out my transgressions and snitch on myself in order to brag about my Lord.