Interview: Gospel Rap Artists DLIV, L.I.F.E. Camp Ministries

Living Intensely For Elohim (L.I.F.E) is the mission and message that gospel rap solo artist DLIV and group L.I.F.E Camp Ministries are committed to spreading to fans through their music, lyrics and sound.

Ardale Patrick (DLIV), which stands for Delivered, is the breakout solo artist who signed to Urgency Records and produced the popular singles “Worthy” and “I am a Winner” (featuring Josiah Martin).

L.I.F.E Camp is a Cleveland, Ohio, gospel rap group. Their sound is an uplifting mix of inspiration and encouragement, with their latest single “Breakthrough” an anthem for overcoming obstacles and breaking through challenges.

L.I.F.E Camp members Benjamin Wilson (Choze), Stanford Wilson (Livin Pruf) and Joseph Suddeth (Overflow) formed the group six years ago. Even though many of the group members have been in ministry and performing since 1996, just this year they were signed to Urgency Records.

While the group aspires to have a breakout song or album hit mainstream airwaves, they are committed to staying true, focused and ministry minded.

“I don’t want to compromise my walk. We want to always stay focused on the King First,” Living Pruf said. “I don’t want to lose myself or the reason why I do this.”

The group holds each other accountable for their actions and commitment. Every week the group meets on Wednesday for Bible Study. They have a “real talk” session, meditate, read scripture and write lyrics.

“Everyone writes eight to 16 bars,” Overflow explains, “Then we think about the concept of the song collectively and decide what works and what doesn’t or if there is a need for more hooks.”

CP:  What was the concept behind the song, “I am a Winner?”

DLIV: I had a situation where I fell off. My music reflects my life’s experiences and the trials of my Christian walk. My journey has been great, but this song is for the real people who understand this Christian walk and we are not perfect.

CP:  What gospel rap artist has influence your music and sound?

DLIV: When I first started listening to gospel rap the first album I bought was from the gospel rap artist Ambassador. He was the first person I heard do gospel rap, also Da T.R.U.T.H inspired me to go forward in gospel rap.

CP: Did you ever have thoughts about rapping in the secular world?

DLIV: My personal testimony is that I was never going to do secular rap. I played around with it in school, but I really got serious when I got into the church and got saved. (Rapping secular music) was never a battle for me.

CP: Is there a struggle or challenge to reach non-Christian people or people not typically exposed to gospel rap?

DLIV: It is hard. I have to say there are a lot of people that look at rap in a negative way.  They look at (and assume the message is about) fast cars, degrading women and money. It is very hard for them to accept it. But that is one thing I thank God for our ministry. Urgency Records has helped my music hit the masses quicker and I am able to connect with fans.

CP: Who are you trying to reach with your music and your ministry?

DLIV: Initially I tried to reach young people or the youth, but now I try to reach everybody. I want everyone to understand there is a light and it is important to get out of church walls and hit the streets and hit the masses with this message.

CP: What are your favorite songs on the album?

DLIV: “Worthy” and “I am a Winner.” I wrote those songs from the heart and spirit. I like to take people on a journey and those songs are real personal to me and I want to give people a piece of me.

CP: What are some of your current projects you are working on?

DLIV: I am in study, grinding, and in the studio working on my second project.

CP: What has kept the group together for six years?

Life Camp: Being family, we have looked to each other as brothers. The second thing that holds us together is accountability. We keep each strong and encourage each other, and above all ministry. We are ministry minded. We want to makes sure God speaks through us and uses us so that no matter what comes our way we have each others back. We also have the same type of goals and visions which is to reach the word to as many people as possible.

CP: How has gospel rap changed over the last 10 and 20 years?

Livin Pruf: I think the other thing that has changed gospel rap over the years is the quality. So many different artist are truly artist as well as ministers, so the combination, the artistic background and the ministry is an unstoppable sound.

CP: How do you think gospel groups and gospel rap have broken the barrier to reach mainstream audiences?

Choze: I think that these artists who have become mainstream have actually went out to see what the industry is doing and what the people want. A lot of times gospel rap artist get so focused and their genre that they do not see what is going on in the music industry and what happens is they trap themselves. The artist who have become mainstream have stepped out of those boundaries to get a sense of where people are in their lives. Anytime you can address somebody in their lives and address them directly it is going to grab their attention.

CP: So do you think the messages that mainstream artists are different from the message Independent Artists are making?

Choze: No, I think the way the music is produced and what they are doing to get out there is helping artist who have crossed over into mainstream what they have to possess is drive. Never giving up and staying focused. It really does take time, we started six years ago and we are just getting signed to a label. But we have been doing music since 1996.
So, the time will come and the day will come when things fall into place.

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