Truly creative people are just different. They have the ability to compartmentalize their art into many different facets. We’ve seen our fair share of actor turned musicians, musician turned actors, designers becoming producers, and so on. Then you think of someone like Donald Glover/Childish Gambino – a standup comedian, writer, actor, director, producer, singer, rapper, and a pretty good dancer too. Entertainment embodies his soul.
In the Christian hip hop space, we don’t really have anyone that has done multiple huge things successfully. There has been plenty of dabbling though. Lecrae has done acting and is creating content with his film production company. We’ve seen Spechouse create music and act, and now Fern is getting involved with acting. However, there’s one man that seems to be a savant of multiple crafts – Rhyan LaMarr, and he’s trying to change the game for Christians.
There are groups of people who know LaMarr as the writer and director of the film Canal Street. It’s an indie project that has gained acclaim on multiple platforms and has been given heavy run time on BET. There were some acting veterans such as Mehki Phifer and Lance Reddick sprinkled in with budding stars Bryshere Gray and Kevin Quinn.
Some people were just introduced to Rhyan on the song “Relief” which featured nobigdyl., John Givez, Byron Juane, Kris Noel, Jack Red, and Canon. If you want a good way to say hello to CHH – that video does it.
The journey to music for Rhyan LaMarr actually started in 1992, way before he dropped this single or even yelled “cut” on the set of a movie. It was that year he discovered hip-hop legends such as Biggie, Pac, Bone Thugs & Harmony, and others. From there he was hooked and would sing and rap all throughout his childhood.
However, at the same time he was developing his talents on record, he was watching hundreds of music videos a week, but not just watching them, he was absorbing them. He was catching the film bug. “How do they make this?”
One, in particular, was a track by the Roots called “You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu. The ending of the video blew his mind and he knew, “I have to do this.”
With directing and film in the back of his mind, he pursued music and played tons of showcases. At one point he was being courted by Universal and a young Lady Gaga opened up for his showcase.
He was also trained to be a vocal producer and arranger and as a student of rap, he just sees songs forming as a story in his head. When you watch the music video for “Relief” you see this ambition oozing out. It’s a mini-epic movie.
But before we get back to that, in the early 2000s Rhyan decided he’d chase this film dream he had as a young boy watching music videos. After enrolling in film school, he wound up going to a casting call as an extra for the movie Mr. 3000, starring Bernie Mac.
Instead of being an extra, he approached a PA and asked to shadow her. From there, he wound up meeting Bernie and the director of the film, Charles Stone. After telling the story about that Roots music video sparking this passion (that he was ready to quit by the way), Stone revealed, “I was the director of that film.” This incredible revelation was the sign LaMarr needed and further cemented his love of music and tied it to film.
Encouraged by this process and after building a relationship with Bernie Mac, it was the late actor who encouraged LaMarr to finish film school and then come back and work for him.
Sure enough, Rhyan found himself working on the Bernie Mac Show years later. As he began to make his descent into the film world, he kept music mostly in his head. He wasn’t doing showcases or dropping albums, but the thought of what could come was still there.
Once Canal Street came around, music played a huge role in that movie. LaMarr would also begin to work on his debut project aPERFECTmess in conjunction with a Christian hip hop passion project “Better Days.”
Rhyan’s goal was to create a Christian rap cinematic universe that tied all of CHH together in short films. It starred 1K Phew and it was a vision the director has had for years. In a way, it was his love letter back to Christian music.
“The entire ‘Avengers Endgame’ story was completely devoid of Christ. All that chaos in the world and nobody thinks of God,” LaMarr said in a previous interview. “So I said, ‘Why not? Why can’t we create that?’ You may call it superhero but you can call it other stuff too. In our world, we have Jesus Christ, a real superhero that walked this Earth.”
Read more about the film series and the interview here.
For right now the series is on halt because of the pandemic. aPERFECTmess was supposed to serve as sort of a soundtrack to the series but it’s here first and it’s a who’s who of CHH.
For Rhyan LaMarr it’s a wonderfully assembled project that has the grand vision of a film. The artist is operating on the “go big or go home” mantra. He is setting a high-quality standard for art in Christian hip-hop and culture and it’s exciting to see how he continues to weave these two segments of entertainment together in the foreseeable future.
Listen to Rhyan LaMarr Below:
Buy or stream here.