Some rappers glorify the lives of pimps in their music, but one Christian rapper who actually earned the title in real life used his former occupation as motivation for submitting his life to Jesus Christ.
Mark "Bizzle" Felder, 29, has made a name for himself as the Christian rapper who had the guts to challenge rapper Jay-Z in a song while holding other recording artists accountable for the content of their music. However, Bizzle recently admitted that his own walk with Jesus began after he visited the church home of the prostitute that he employed.
"My financial situation got so bad. I was sleeping on a friend's floor and my car was a closet for my clothes," Bizzle recently told The Christian Post about the tough times that compelled him to turn to pimping. "A woman who was a prostitute liked my music. I had friends that were getting paid in that way, (so) I fell into this situation where I was pretty much a pimp and she was my prostitute."
Although Bizzle, also known as Lavyss, admitted that he was able to gain fast money, that all came to an end when the prostitute asked him to pick up her brother at their family church. While Bizzle didn't automatically feel guilty for his lifestyle, the situation made him think twice about his path.
"(Her brother) was a drummer in a church, that was her family's church. The problem was that I didn't feel as guilty as I should have," Bizzle recalled. "I knew it was wrong but because of the money that was coming in, I wasn't going to tell her what the Lord was telling me. Eventually I came to Christ after realizing how far I had gone from him. That scared me."
Bizzle has been offered recording contracts and opened up for rappers like Lil Wayne, Juelz Santana and Lil Boosie. As a secular artist, the California-born rapper said the closer he got to Christ the more he felt changing the content of his music was necessary. While the Christian recording artist admits that Tupac, Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls and Kanye West were once his favorite artists, he later felt the need to speak out against them.
"If I don't have a close relationship with a person and you say something about them it's not going to affect me that much. But the more love I have for them it's going to affect me differently when you talk about them," Bizzle told CP. "I never felt I had to choose sides, but once these cats who I liked went against who I loved when I loved God, I had to pick a side."
In Jan. 2010, Bizzle let the world know that he had picked a side with the release of his song titled "You Got Some Explaining to Do," which called rapper Jay-Z out by name for his negative lyrics concerning Jesus Christ. Fast forward two years and the rapper has released a number of albums and mixtape CDs, including his latest, "Martyr in The Making."
On "Martyr in The Making," Bizzle flows over contemporary rap instrumentals and name-drops rappers like Jay-Z, Drake and Kanye West who he feels are leading their generation astray with their music. Still, the rapper insists that he does not have an issue with all mainstream recording artists.
"Not all secular artists glorify sin. I can't condemn all secular music," Bizzle told CP. "I (ask) people are (artists) fully against your beliefs or are they promoting sin? If they are, you've got to ask yourself why you are listening."
However, the Christian rapper said he understands why some people haven't been quick to embrace emcees rhyming in the name of Jesus.
"On a Christian side we're not going to get booed, you're going to get clapped for and encouraged either way," Bizzle admitted. "If someone's production is whack, if the music isn't up to par we don't have many people that are going to tell them."
Still, the rapper said times are changing and that recording artists are improving the quality of music that they make for Christian audiences.
"The production, the quality, people care what they're putting out in Jesus' name now," he said.
While the rapper's own movement has grown to over 17 thousand followers on Twitter, Bizzle said he isn't actively looking to shop his music around to major record labels and is unsure of his path as a rapper.
"Every time I've made plans, God has done something totally different. I kind of don't plan anymore, I just try to just be prepared for whatever the Lord has in store," he told CP. "I just want to reach people, but a lot of time to reach them you have to reach the channels."
While Bizzle is working out his own path as a Christian rapper, he asks for fans to hold him up in prayer.
"Keep me in prayer, and walk with me," he said. "I'm going to try my best to get out there and be the best representative of Christ that I can be."