Christian Rap & Afro Gospel: How Gil Joe is Helping Push a New Genre in Nigeria (Pt. 2)
We had a long interview with Gil Joe who’s currently leading a new sound in Christian music from Nigeria. The first part of the interview was released a few days ago, here’s the concluding part.
You and Nkay dropped ‘Afro Gospel to the world’ project, how has the response been so far?
I would say that Afro Gospel to the world project that I dropped last year was the kickoff for the whole movement. That was the start of the train that we all needed in the industry, and the moment that the train kicked off – the whole world accepted the opinion because that was the train we all needed so long. The train called Afro Gospel, that we could all hold on to and just ride on, that everybody could literally come under that umbrella and say this is what we represent, this is what we are. For so many years we’ve been doing it, but we were like scattered sheep because people don’t understand what we do, cause we couldn’t name it.
If you ask a rapper in the US, they’ll tell you they are CHH (Christian hip-hop). We just didn’t have that umbrella yet, so I felt like God just gave us that in the name of Afro Gospel, and since the moment it came up, everybody ran with our vision, every single artist, and all the newer guys, they ran with our vision. It’s been nothing short of amazing, that has been worked on in a space of a year literally. The industry has gone so far as we can see it today, so definitely I would say that has been the reception so far.
A few months ago, you made a post of you singing corny and talked about an illness encounter. You sounded much more like it was very serious, what was it about?
I haven’t been to the hospital since I was in my primary education, so it was quite an experience for me cause I really forgot what being ill felt like. To be honest it was just like the flu that got accumulated in my body. I knew it’s malaria, but I felt like the whole experience for me was just God trying to get my attention to another perspective that I really got. Because while I was on the bed my view for life totally changed. It was transformed. It’s a thing for us to pray for the sick people and a thing to be there and feel how they actually felt, knowing for sure that I was gonna recover that wasn’t a doubt in my mind. I think that was just the whole experience that got me the most, that was it for me literally.
Presently there has been so many racism issues, rape issues, police brutality, how can Christian artists/Urban artists particularly in Nigeria sensitize their fans?
Racism has always been there for so long. I had my first encounter on my first trip to the US last year in a hotel where two white people were. I was heading for a show with my promoter and the team was waiting downstairs in the hotel and in the elevator, these two white people came inside and they were like, ‘Hey, they didn’t tell us we’ve got Snoop dog in the hotel’, I was looking at them and I didn’t say anything I just kept my cool because I didn’t want any trouble, but that was literally like two days of my visit to America. So it just hit me how much black people go through in the world really because of the skin color.
I think we as artists, we’ve got a voice and a platform and God has entrusted us with that voice to always speak truth and truth is what we literally know and feel in our spirit. These things happen and we might not have all experienced it, but we can see the clips and videos, it’s all over the Internet that racism is real and we can keep pushing talking about it and doing something. I think that is the most we can do as an artist, keep talking about it, and speak against it.
A lot of times Christian urban artists talk about a lack of support from the media. Do you think this is so particularly in Nigeria?
To be honest, I’ll say it has been a huge challenge for a while because like I said the media don’t see the need to promote our content except you have a huge amount of money and you’re choking their neck to let them know that you just have to do this. Except maybe on Sundays, they don’t really see the need to actually push it, but for us being urban Gospel, they feel like they don’t want to chunk religion into the throats of their audience because they think we are packaging religion and trying to chunk it into their throat.
I believe that the media has always been the power of the crowd. If you travel to Ghana, Kenya or some of the Eastern countries, the number one religion there is Christianity. I don’t believe Christianity is a religion though, but that is the number one religion as they said which kind of shapes the way things functions in those countries, you find Gospel artists, they get quality air place and nobody feels threatened because most people in those countries are Christians so even the secular guys don’t feel threatened because they feel like their fundamentals/foundation is God. But here we’re multi-religious, and the Muslims are as much as the Christians and they feel like those crowds they don’t wanna chunk them with your religion, so that was what we were handed until the news started doing well out there.
Literally I told my guys that it’s so easy to get your music out there in the foreign countries than here in Nigeria, you even spend less. They get to do it by a word of mouth, the young people tell themselves that you need to check this out and they just spread it but here in Nigeria its really difficult because the way the system has been patterned, the church doesn’t accept you, the media don’t accept you, so you’re kind of like placed in the middle.
For the Nigerian Christian urban artists so far, do you think they have done well?
Definitely, with what we’ve been given, I feel like we’ve done exceptionally well. Every single time I have a chance to praise the people who do urban Gospel, I take it. If you’ve checked out any of my time on stage, maybe I have some of these people present I say a big thank you to them because I know what I go through, so I know we all go through similar struggles. I always try my possible best to just thank them because we could literally choose to do anything else because we’re given the choice but we stuck here with God because we love God, we believe in his messages, his merciful salvation. That is why all we can literally do is encourage each other, but talking about how far we’ve gone I think we’ve done really great.
You as an artist, how has the global pandemic affected you?
In so many ways, this year was supposed to be centered around touring and that’s the reason why I feel like I haven’t put out a lot of content, music-wise, because the team plan on touring and Canada was supposed to be our first and then we’ll start unveiling all the cities we plan going into. But obviously, the pandemic came very early in the year and we weren’t able to do the show, though still in the books we’re looking into like when to start all over again. Still, I think overall that has been a major challenge for me from the pandemic.
View this post on Instagram
Thankful to God for Divine Health🙏🏽. This time last week I was admitted in the hospital, the devil came for my health, but of course he lost (Glory to God). Laying on that sick bed with so much weakness and discomfort never felt since I’ve known myself, I mean I’ve not been admitted since I was 10yrs old, so this was so weird for me. With my family members around me, I longed for recovery, I longed to worship again and regain my strength. I really would never forget this in a hurry, cuz I learnt so much in those moments, to cherish and be grateful for the littlest things of life. It rekindled the gratitude for good health that i’ve enjoyed for years in Christ, and I found myself praying for people going through health issues even more now. The truth is we never really know what people with health issues go through, until we get a glimpse of the pain and discomfort they have to face. So I dedicate this (EDM Rendition) of one of my favorite songs “BURDENS”, on my first Album titled MATURITY. Sending prayers of comfort to all victims and those suffering all sorts of sicknesses and infirmities, asking for divine intervention for their sake. God is with us. Kindly share.❤️🙏🏽 🎥: @blizzbitzz Cc @realfanvestor #aceinvestmentlounge
In making Afro Gospel, who are those you look up to or listen to?
To be very honest, I came into the industry not really knowing any, in fact, I knew Frank Edwards was playing traditional Gospel because those were like some of his biggest hit songs at that time. I really came in listening to Wizkid, Davido and the sound is amazing. I felt like I’m a Christian, I won’t be able to make that kind of message because I believe in God, I’ve been called to do it, but I knew that the gift was within us as Africans, but to put it out was the thing. So, I think I came in with my own sound and I wasn’t really looking up to like anyone but when I came into the industry I met people playing it.
The first time I ever heard of Henrisoul, I felt good because I saw someone else doing it. In fact, he did a whole lot for the industry for real. His videos on Trace TV those things inspired me and I reached out to him I was like ‘Bro, you inspire me, thank you so much‘ and also the first time I ever saw Nosa at the crystal awards, I was on my feet to the end of his performance. I was like who is this guy, so I feel like people have been doing it but I won’t necessarily say those were the people who I kinda liked looked up to when I came into the industry. I just love the fact that they were doing the same vision that I had in my heart.
What music are you currently feeling as regards Afro Gospel?
Nkay, Limoblaze, Marizu, Oba Reengy Nolly, those are the current Afro Gospel guys, I’m really feeling their sounds.
What are the other plans for the year since you can’t travel presently?
We hope that we can still do the show but we do have some serious project coming out, an EP titled the Lord Summer should be coming out in a few months. Then to wrap up the year we are currently working on Afro Gospel season two with Nkay and couple of other Afro Gospel guys, it’s literally a whole industry package for the fans.
Link up with Gil Joe on twitter (@_giljoe)