The epidemic of bullying in schools across the nation has left a deep impression on Christian hip-hop artist Prodigal Son (Kelly Williams), so much so that he is dedicating an entire album on the subject.
He hasn't set a release date yet but he is titling the album Hidden Rage, after a song he wrote two years ago.
Like 30 percent of today's American schoolchildren, Williams has personally experienced the effects of bullying growing up, so writing the song "Hidden Rage" was easy, he said.
"I've been bullied. And I won't lie, I've attempted to be a bully too," he told The Christian Post.
In his song, Williams talks about his personal story of bullying, attempted suicide, and violence.
"The song is really a story of my life," he said.
Williams has been using his song to get the word out about violence. The song was featured in a 2008 independent Christian film, also titled "Hidden Rage," which tackles the issues of bullying, teen depression, suicide and teen violence.
Originally from Canton, Ohio, the Christian artist is no stranger to the world of street gangs, violence, or jail. In his earlier years as a teenager, Williams was affiliated with gangs and even tried his hand at being a bully.
"I got beat up by the guy I tried to bully, and my friends just stood around and watched," he recalled.
From that day forward, Williams left bullying alone and instead looked for people to shield him from being the victim.
"I associated with people in gangs, and did what everyone else did. I became a bully by association."
Leading a life filled with negativity and destruction, Williams realized he was getting nowhere and after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, he turned to God and discovered his faith. Cancer free for seven years, Williams now shares his testimony through his music.
"I use music as a tool to give thanks," he noted.
Originally a recording artist for Miami-based label Quick Hit Records (Universal), Williams made the transition from secular music to ministry through music.
"I was no longer living the lifestyle that I talked about in my music," he said.
Wiliiams explained that his transition was also influenced by a question his daughter asked and he could not answer.
"My daughter asked me one day, why do I curse so much in my music. I knew them that she listened and could really understand," he recalled.
Most recently, Williams was inspired by the story of 13-year-old Asher Brown, a young Texas student shot himself in the head last month after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students at Hamilton Middle School. Asher was bullied for being small, not wearing brand name clothes, practicing Buddhism and being gay. His parents claimed they went to the school multiple times to complain about the bullying but nothing was done. Notably, school officials have denied receiving any complaints.
As a parent himself, Williams offered one piece of advice to others that may be dealing with similar situations.
"Parents need to really listen to their children, take everything to heart, because you never know how a situation can turn out," he said, stressing that the solution to bullying starts at home.
Citing the Old Testament passage Proverbs 22:6, Williams said, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Prodigal Son's upcoming album is an eight-track record that will include the hip-hop artist's original songs about the bullying epidemic. It will also feature guest artists.
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