by Carlin Doyle
In the past, Skrip has often worked behind the scenes, producing for artists such as Andy Mineo, Thi’sl, and more. But now he has released his own album, Renegades Never Die (read my review here). The Chicago-based Christian hip-hop artist is full of talent; a skilled producer, rapper, singer and beatboxer. Partnered with the relatively young record label Infiltrate music, he is set to go far. I was privileged to ask him a bunch of questions about Renegades Never Die, writing and producing, his hopes for 2015, and his thoughts on Nutella.
CARLIN: One of my favourite lines in the album was, if I heard it correctly, “You think you’re good on everything, like Nutella”. Are you a fan of Nutella?
SKRIP: To be honest, I haven’t tried it but I know tons of people who think it’s the best thing ever and good on anything.
I was very impressed when listening through Renegades Never Die knowing that you produced the album yourself. Personally, how long have you been producing music for?
I’ve been producing for sixteen years. I still have a collection of roughly 2,000 beats saved on floppy disks. Stuff kids these days won’t even know what to do with.
How long would one song on Renegades Never Die take to produce?
Every track took a different amount of time to complete. One could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get the bare bones of the track. I’m very picky so I’d go over a zillion changes before I got the final amount of sounds and changes down so in that sense to get to the final phase of a track. It definitely takes a lot of thinking and time.
Which was the hardest to do and which is your favourite?
From what I remember, Let It All Out was the hardest to do, It went through tonnes of phases. I wanted to end the album on somewhat of a personal note while engaging the listener to do the same. In every track I usually work hard until I solidify a meaning for every part. The file kept crashing, that’s mostly why It was the hardest because It became frustrating. I mean there’s a techno-ish part, rap part, dubstep part. [Laughs] Silly enough, it’s before I learned how to do something on Logic, the program I sequence on, that helped to save CPU energy!
Your music is heavily influenced by dance, club and pop music. Which artists in particular would you say have influenced you here?
I wanted to involve a lot of pop and dance vibes on this album because I love seeing people smiling, happy and dancing at wedding parties, birthdays, with friends, BBQs etc. It always happens to upbeat music, that top 40 sound. Being Latino is probably a big factor in loving the sound as well. Musically artists like Stevie B, Johnny O, Papo Rivera… I just really enjoy them sometimes. I still haven’t gone as heavy into dance music as I wanted to on Renegades Never Die but I definitely have a lot up my sleeve for the near future.
I loved a lot of the lyrics in your album and your focus on Jesus and quoting scripture. Does your own meditation on scripture influence your lyrics?
Absolutely. Not unlike the psalmist in Psalm 1:1-4, I need God’s word. Meditation on God’s word builds up an arsenal of go to’s for every place in my life. I am unaware of how it comes out in songs sometimes, I really can’t help it. I guess you can say, you are what you eat? Really though, being a pastor of a church plant [World Renegade Church] in Chicago has challenged me and continues to do so, in many areas including knowing, understanding and teaching God’s word. I’m nothing without it.
What is your process for writing a verse? Do you find a nice comfy chair and get a cup of coffee, or do you need to be moving to get the creative juices flowing?
That is a great question. Doing this interview makes me stop to think of what I really do because It just happens. It would be pretty boring though if my answer was continually “it just happens”. [Laughs]
It really DOES just happen. Typically, I don’t sit and think too much. I just articulate words to an instrumental I’ve made. It may start off as gibberish but then I fill in the blanks and create a song off of an initial freestyle “improvised rap”.
You mentioned in the Rapzilla mini doco that you wanted to send a clear message out through the album. What would you say the message is in Renegades Never Die?
The message in the simplest sense is this… Jesus was a renegade of his time, he came against the powers that were. Not only did he come against them though, he enlightened the masses with truth. He was a renegade of the world. So, following in his footsteps as a disciple, we too become renegades of the world. Now, believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and all of the implications transfers us from decaying beings to future immortals. In other words, Renegades Never Die.
Releasing your first album must be a big transition for you as a musician. How do you think things will change for you now that you have an album released? Or in other words, what does 2015 look like for you?
“I’m thankful” – Marshawn Lynch
How do you hope this album will be received, or in other words, what will make it a success for you?
I hope people capture the messages in each song and have music they can listen to for a very long time. That’s a win for me. Aside from that, for the album to open even more doors for me to continue creating all types of music to engage all types of people with the only truth that sets people free.