nobigdyl. on Camaraderie and Competition in Christian Hip-Hop
Rapzilla recently chatted with nobigdyl. about his 2017 aspirations, his crew of like-minded emcees in Christian hip-hop, and his music video for “Purple Dinosaur.”
nobigdyl. said there is new music coming in 2017. He’s sitting on a lot of tracks right now and has a couple of songs with Christian Sager, Daniel Young, Wontel, and JuiceBangers down the pipeline.
“We’ve been working a lot,” he said. “2016 was a lot of building relationships and getting marketing plans together, building a brand. 2017 expect a lot of content.”
After his three free releases in 2015, beginning with smoke signals, dyl. mostly did features in 2016. He did exactly what he said, “built a brand.” All of this has him poised and the fans ready for what he’s got coming in the next year.
One of the keys to nobigdyl.’s growing popularity is his knack for throwing down solid feature verses on other young talented Christian Hip-Hop artist’s albums.
“I have a lot of respect for all my peers,” explained dyl. “There’s a group of us that are like actual homies for real. Lawren is one, Ty Brasel…there’s a group of us that have stayed at each other’s places, met each other’s families. At the end of the day, we are rappers.”
Each of these rappers has a vision, a focus, and a passion God. This camaraderie binds them together and allows them to have a shoulder to lean on as they navigate their art through the gospel.
“A lot of us are trying to find the balance between making excellent art that reflects God and accurately tells our story, gives our testimony, leads people to Christ without being super competitive or prideful or making it all about us,” dyl. revealed. “It’s a hard line to work especially since traditional hip-hop is so competitive, autobiographical, and pride based.”
nobigdyl., speaking for his friends, said they look up to artists such as Propaganda and the others on Humble Beast. He believes these guys provide an example artists should strive for.
With all great friendships comes a bit of a competitiveness to push each other’s limits. On group record cuts, for instance, Lawren’s “One Day, Pt. 2” featuring Jav Mendez, dyl., B. Cooper, and Dre Murray, or Davis Absolute’s “The Body,” featuring Lawren, Brother 3, Mogli the Iceburg, and dyl., there’s a sense that each of these guys are bringing the best bars they can. Every one of these rappers delivers and almost appear to push the envelope further than the next guy with each bar.
“When you first get into it, you’re trying to kill everybody. Even if my lyrics don’t reflect that, that’s where my heart was,” said nobigdyl. “God really flipped that on me in a very aggressive way around the New Year. This year, He has brought me to be very aware of the condition of my heart when I’m writing. What my mission is when I’m writing.”
nobigdyl. then shared some words from Ty Brasel that inspired him: “The best art comes out when you’re humble when you’re writing from that humility and honor to God.”
So not only do they keep each other’s bars in check, but they keep the spirit of each other’s content in line as well. Sometimes when nobigdyl. feels he isn’t on point or feels maybe he’s being too aggressive, he’ll send a track to his friends to get feedback.
“I try to keep it really simple. I try to be connected to the vine, I try to be in love with Jesus, I want to be fully set by His grace and then live and move and walk in the freedom of that,” he said.
To him, the mission is the same mission to dyl. as a person – to encourage people, to love people as God has called to love, to point people towards Christ and to make people more aware of the love God has made available to everyone.
“The point can’t be music, the point can’t me my career, I can’t be the supreme point. He has to to be the point of it,” said dyl. “Those are His words, not mine.”
nobigdyl. hopes to take his music as far as God wills it, whether it be as big as a Lecrae or as a top independent Christian rapper like Thi’sl.
“This is where I’m at. We are gonna keep our head down, love Jesus, and make music. That’s kind of the whole theme,” said nobigdyl. “To me, I don’t really see a difference. I see a different methodology, but I don’t see a difference in those two. Both of the two entities clearly love Christ and are just doing it within the vision and gifting He gave them.”
If he could, he would be a hybrid of them.
“I want to keep the collective going forward. Lecrae is clearly the stand out of Reach Records but they’ve always been about the 116 movement, the collective, the label together and the message of it,” he said. “And, Thi’sl, he doesn’t get boxed in.”
In reality, he wants to be able to easily move through the places he already frequents in his daily life. nobigdyl. doesn’t just spend his time in church and Christian bookstores. If it means performing at bars and clubs or sharing bills with other hip-hop artists, then so be it. His goal is to be a light in the darkness and rep Jesus well.
“The Nashville mainstream rappers, they know me, I support them, I spend time with them, I have real relationships with them,” explained dyl. “It would be hypocritical of me if I was like, ‘I only mess with Christian stuff and my music is just for the church’. At the same time, I don’t reject any of it. You can find me at either one because you can find me at either one in real life.”
Read part one with nobigdyl. here.