Sivion on 20 Years of Rap, Style & Flow, and Who Impresses Him Now
Hip-Hop artist Sivion talks about his career in Christian rap, his future plans, and current artists he respects now. Read part one of this interview where he talks about Deepspace5 and his album Dark Side of the Cocoon.
What has changed about music since your last release (4 years ago)?
Sivion: Right now I think it is crazy how many artists have figured out a way to make a good living doing rap music full-time. Even in the underground, artists are tracking their streams and using all of their analytics and resources better. Many have started tapping into licensing and other income streams. It’s really encouraging to watch. The independent market has really forced the record labels to do things the right way if they want to stay relevant in representing artists and getting the opportunity to earn revenue from their talents. Illect Recordings has been treating me right for nearly a decade and a half, so I have no complaints. Seeing some of my label mates get licensing placements for entities like ESPN, Fox, etc. is super cool to me.
As someone who has been in Christian Hip-Hop for about 20 years, how do you feel the landscape of it is now, compared to where it was back then?
Sivion: The landscape has changed a lot. The big difference I see between now and maybe back in 1998-ish (when I first started appearing on guest features), is the talent level. Back then it was kind of night and day between the secular and Christian artists. Christian Rap was way behind and most of the biggest names really didn’t have talent that measured up to the secular. But now it’s arguably the opposite. There are more Christian acts doing bigger things in a more professional way than some of the secular rap that can seem kind of lazy and disengaged. I really dig the fact that so many barriers and walls have been broken down by Christian Rap in the past five years or so. It is funny though, how some Christian artists push boundaries now that we used to get BLASTED for even tiptoeing close to, back in the days. And we’d get ridiculed for not being Christian enough. Nowadays there are Christian artists who don’t mention anything Christian in their music AT ALL. I’m not knocking any of them for that because sometimes it’s about just tackling a topic in a Christ-like way, even if you don’t mention where your godly perspective comes from. But it’s still super funny to me because of the reactions we used to get for having songs that didn’t have enough Jesus in them…Fun times.
Are you familiar with the upcoming rappers now and who are some artists that impress you?
Sivion: I am familiar with some of the newer stuff out. Some cats I’m really feeling these days are dudes like James Gardin, Armond Wakeup, Taelor Gray, Ruslan, Beleaf, Jet Trouble, Yaves, Social Club, Dream Junkies, Middle Clash, JGivens, etc. I’m also feeling some of the stuff out by vets like Beautiful Eulogy, Propaganda, Krum, The Battery, Derek Minor, Sho Baraka, Sareem Poems, etc. And don’t get me started on this new Ozay Moore record that hasn’t dropped yet. OOOOWEEEEE. Y’all ain’t ready.
You have that boom bap, old school quality to your music. As a New Yorker, no complaints here…I feel in today’s music, this art is a bit lost. How do you stick with your style and keep it fresh and relevant to be relatable today?
Sivion: I just try to make great music at all costs. To me, there’s a place for smash hits and viral one-hit wonders in every era of music history. But there’s also a part of everyone’s being that longs for good timeless music that transcends time and space. THAT’s the type of music I try to create. When I hear music like that (which is usually not the radio single on any album), my soul just awakens with creativity. I believe God created us all to “create” as we seek him as our heavenly father and try to do what we see him do (just as Jesus did as He saw the Father do). When music can awaken the creativity that’s already inside of all of us, that’s pretty powerful.
One of the reasons you probably do not hear my music taking hard swings toward any particular current styles, is because timeless music doesn’t chase the trends…it just does what it does in the lane it was created to do it in…you know, that lane that has no competition in it because it wasn’t created for anyone else. That’s the lane I aim to live in. Every now and then a song will catch lightning in a bottle and become a hit…but that’s cool too. When you’re not chasing the hit, you won’t lose yourself in the process. I don’t knock anyone for chasing the hits. That’s just not the creative gift that God planted in me. I do however agree that it is good to reinvent yourself periodically to stay relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach. But do it in a way that makes you feel empowered, confident, and creative…not like a dull follower that’s trying to capitalize on someone else’s creativity. Do YOU like God intended!
Are there plans for a tour, either yourself, Deepspace, both?
Sivion: No tours planned at this time for either myself or Deepspace5, but you never know what the future holds. DJ Manny, Listener, and Krum tend to stay on the road quite a bit, so you’ll probably see them rocking in a town near you. Me…I’m trying to set some stuff up for the first quarter of 2018 to hit some different cities and continue to share this Dark Side of the Cocoon album with the nation and the world more. We’ll see how it goes…
Anything else to add?
Sivion: Super honored that you took the time to interview me. It’s my pleasure anytime I get to connect with my Rapzilla family. If there’s anything I want people to get out of this piece is that life happens, circumstances happen but GOD is bigger, badder, smarter, wiser, and more powerful than any circumstances. Lean into him when you can’t find anywhere else to lean. That’s what I had to do and I’m so glad that God chose to use Dark Side of the Cocoon as an opportunity for me to share what it looked like when I couldn’t find anywhere else to lean, except on Him. Y’all be blessed and I hope you get some real meat from this record, in the mighty, powerful, matchless, unstoppable name of Jesus. Amen.
Read part one of this interview.