They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the adage rings true. But rather than something physical, I think emotionally, my heart grew bigger. For the past several years I’ve felt a personal connection to the story of Danny “D-Boy” Rodriguez.

Story of D-Boy & M.C. Gegee

D-Boy

For those that don’t know, D-Boy was one of the O.G.’s of Christian rap. He was one of the first Latinos (Puerto Rican) of Christian Rap, and someone whose entire identity and heartbeat was spent spreading the gospel to the youth of the streets. Born in NYC, his family bounced around doing ministry work touring with their mother as the lead. They also supported the New Life ministry for girls in Pennsylvania before ending up in Dallas, Texas.

While there, Danny Rodriguez played ball in the streets among gangs and troubled youth. He learned how to breakdance and fully emerged himself into hip-hop culture. His mother Cookie was a firecracker of a woman, and one of the first women and Latinas who preached the gospel and worked in street ministry. She also wrote the best-selling book “Please Make Me Cry” in 1974 where she documented her time on drugs and her bad past before she was radically saved. Once in Dallas, she opened up Street Church Academy. It was there that they reached the inner city for God.

Danny would eventually become D-Boy, a rapper signed to Frontline Records, and peers with other CHH pioneers such as P.I.D., S.F.C., ETW, D.O.C., Michael Peace, Soup, and even DC Talk. These early CHH legends had one thing in mind, evangelism through hip-hop. Eventually, D-Boy would train his sister Genie, who was already a drummer and poet, to rap.” She would become M.C. Gegee. She was signed to Frontline as well and became the first woman in CHH that was ever signed and touring.

However, tragically, in 1990, before his second project was released and before Genie could play her first show, D-Boy was murdered. He was shot while entering his apartment complex. He then tried to drive himself to the hospital but crashed his car and it flipped several times as he bled out. The case is still open and unsolved. (Read more about D-Boy & the murder here.)

Remembering D-Boy

This story hit me so hard. While interviewing TobyMac, I asked what he remembered about D-Boy.

“I remember D-Boy pretty well. I always liked him and liked where he was coming from. He had a quiet demeanor. He wasn’t real loud, he was kind and meek until he got on the microphone. I respected that,” Toby said. “We were definitely cheering for him and we were all cheering for each other. We all had hopes for each other. Even though at the time there were a lot of battles going on in that era, it kind of was popular.”

He continued, “For us, we needed each other and D-Boy to me…I liked the fact there was someone coming from that Dallas region. Liked the fact that he was Latino and bringing something different. I just remember when he died, it was a tough day. We wanted to recognize who he was as one of us.”

M.C. Gegee

He left a legacy and was honored in the Darius West documentary Mic Drop that highlighted the pioneers of CHH. The story of M.C. Gegee, often neglected and seen as an afterthought to her brother was just as important. She was the first woman to do what she did in this space and had to catch the microphone that dropped when D-Boy died. (Read her story here.)

Over the years, Genie and I have remained in touch. We’ve had multiple long phone calls, many of which for her were highly emotional. The aftermath of her brother’s death on her and her family was devastating. Genie lost herself. Her identity was wrapped up in being D-Boy’s sister. It took years for Genie to accept the powerful person she was. Her story matters and so does her life and happiness. By the grace of God, she pressed on and has a beautiful family despite the years-long battles with depression and self-worth.

I had the opportunity to fly into Dallas to attend the Mic Drop movie premiere and O.G. concert (more on that later). I knew Genie and I had to meet, so we set it up. From the moment she and her husband Joe (D-Boy’s original DJ) picked me up, they made me feel like family. Here I was as Lecrae once told Genie, “among hip-hop royalty” and they drove me around and fed me every day.

On day one, they took me to Danny’s apartment complex and showed me where he was shot. I saw the road where Genie was picking up pieces of his flipped car for weeks. We drove past the location of their childhood home and the place where she saw her mother learn of Danny’s death as police approached her. I saw the original Street Church Academy Center, and finally, I saw where Danny was laid to rest. It was truly sobering. I’m grateful that I’d be allowed into that painful snapshot of life.

D-Boy

Where D-Boy lays to rest in Dallas, TX.

The following day I would spend entirely with the living legends of Christian Rap, starting with Stephen Wiley. I couldn’t help but feel, however, the gaping hole of D-Boy not being with his peers. Gegee did not attend the event for personal reasons. D-Boy was represented in the film and had a small segment and dedication to him which was great and because of my personal connection actually choked me up a bit.

Mic Drop

On Sunday, Genie showed me a few more spots significant to her family and then I went over for dinner. Most of the talk was about how we can honor this family’s story in the future, and we’re working on it. (Much more on that another time.)

D-Boy

On my final day, Monday, they picked me up, and Genie let me sort through D-Boy’s sacred treasure of a briefcase containing pictures, song lyrics, full songs, press clippings, and the like. Everything was a time capsule to 1990. I was honored. You could feel something special when flipping through those papers.

Finally, I would spend time with Cookie Rodriguez, still a fireball and still doing ministry in the streets with her son’s name on the building. This time it’s called NuLife Outreach Center but it still has D-Boy’s stamp on it. She walked me through the building and explained how the ministry operates and takes care of “the least of these.” Gegee’s second album is called, And the Mission Continues and for this family it does.

It was remarkable to be in Cookie’s office and see pictures of her son on the walls, and look through photos of him with some of the O.G.’s including DC Talk. His body wasn’t present but his spirit and attitude remain in those walls.

D-Boy

New location of Street Church Academy

D-Boy & a Legacy

As I got on my flight, I had much to reflect on. This was a weekend filled with conversing with and honoring people who blazed a trail for others. It came full circle as I finally finished reading Lecrae’s latest book Restoration. He’s a trailblazer in a totally different way and had to and still goes through much because of his status. I was captured by his thoughts and my own and wrote most of this article on the remainder of the flight home.

I’m always most upset by the sparks that were never allowed to fully build into a blaze. Danny was one of those people, and perhaps my biggest connection to this story – my own uncle.

Justin Sarachik

Much like D-Boy, my uncle David, also a Puerto Rican from New York, started his ministry at 19-years-old when he became a pastor of a Spanish-speaking church in Queens, NY. He tragically died unexpectedly and in his sleep at the age of 28 due to a heart complication. David was trained up in Time Square church by pastor David Wilkerson just like Cookie, and he was even born the same year as D-Boy.

Much like that briefcase filled with Danny’s writings, my uncle left behind hundreds of pages of typed documents, songs, poems, stories, and sermons under his bed. My family and I eventually turned that into a book that honored his life and published his works. I saw these parallels immediately before I spoke to Gegee for the first time. I made sure I told her all that before I even asked a single question.

It was a moment that cemented a friendship and a bond and something that lit the flame for me to tell this story that I started almost three years ago. I never had an ending to my three-part series even though I alluded to one in part two. Now, all this time later, I finally have it.

I’ve also been able to rectify the extinguished flames of Danny and David and say that their passing was able to shake the ground and change a generation that came next. D-Boy was able to impact the lives of his community and inspire a generation of CHH artists and people who came after him. My uncle’s life and death were the direct links between the salvation of certain members of my family. His book continues for another generation to read.

D-Boy had a song called “Drop the Mic” and Gegee followed with “I Caught the Mic” just as my uncle dropped the typewriter and I picked up the computer keyboard.

So yes, my heart got bigger because I was able to surround it with more perspective and a clearer picture of my calling. I hope this article blesses you and adds historical context to one of Christian rap’s most compelling and often forgotten stories. D-Boy and Gegee are among our first CHH legends, and they deserve their flowers.

M.C. Gegee

Special thanks to the Rodriguez-Lopez family and Genie and Joe Lopez for making me feel like a king while in Texas. Also, a special shout out to Cookie, for being warm and welcoming, despite not knowing who I was. It’s greatly appreciated. Thank you to the Mic Drop team for flying me out, and thank you Rapzilla family for trusting me to tell you the best stories I can. 

Part one of this story about D-Boy & part two about M.C. Gegee