Many starving artists create sharp ways to make a pretty penny while on the way to the top. The same can be said for Chicago’s Sir The Baptist who worked as a Lyft driver before hitting it big in hip-hop. It seems like things have come full circle for the artist as he helped ring in the company’s testament to their drivers with “Driver Appreciation Day” (Dec. 14).
The company’s ode to their dedicated drivers includes Lyft-sponsored events in Los Angeles and Chicago and a screening of June, directed by John Kahrs (Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2). Lyft also promises to match tips towards drivers for 24 hours.
Providing the track “Movin” for June, Sir was inspired by his two years taking on the role as a Lyft driver and the many encounters he had in the process. Speaking to VIBE, his former position ended up shaping up the people in his current team. “I was also using Lyft as a tool, not just to get money, but to build relationships with my community in Chicago,” he said. “I would take the stories from my Lyft rides and use them in my songwriting and inspiration.”
Sir also shares with us his thoughts on sharing rides, his favorite moments of the year and more.
Check out the interview below.
VIBE: If you had to describe “Movin” in three words, what would they be?
Sir The Baptist: Driving, uplifting and fun.
The song “Movin’” which was used in the short film was created while I was driving for Lyft. I remember creating this song and pulling inspiration from my own story and those of my passengers. Sometimes the toughest times help you realize what life’s all about — human connection. The song is about moving forward and keeping a positive attitude, no matter what setbacks life throws you.
What inspired you to work as a Lyft driver? How was it balancing that and working on your music?
I was working at Leo Burnett in Chicago for a few years but decided that I really needed to step away and apply my marketing to my music. I was an upcoming artist and would drive 12 hours each day. I had a mobile recording studio under my seat and would put all of the money back into studio time, advertising and advancing my career. I was also using Lyft as a tool, not just to get money, but to build relationships with my community in Chicago. I would take the stories from my Lyft rides and use them in my songwriting and inspiration. I would estimate that nearly 50-60 percent of my team is comprised of people I met while driving and using Lyft.
What’s one of your most memorable Lyft experiences?
I’ve seen everything, from happy grandmothers to post-breakups, to harrowing stories of people trying to make ends meet and everything in between. I actually met my girlfriend who I’ve been dating for two years while driving.
How do you feel about the concept of sharing rides? In the film, June builds a rapport with her customers, but sometimes in real life customers aren’t too engaging; even with fellow riders.
I always felt a real sense of community when I was driving with Lyft. There is such a strong connection between passenger and driver. I met new people all the time and was inspired by sharing experiences with all different walks of life. My music tells the stories of the people I’ve met, reflecting their unique perspectives and what I learned from these shared experience and the community I built with others.
Your music has a great balance of political, religion and social topics. What inspired you to walk that path in your sound?
It’s true to who I am. My father was a preacher in Chicago when I was growing up. When he passed away when I was 11 years old, I was able to get a little further away from the church and find hip-hop, Jay Z and a new scene. At the same time, my mother and brothers are missionaries. So I was always taught to have a strong sense of giving back, political action and community organizing. My music truly reflects this path of growing up in-between the church and secular worlds.
What were some of your favorite moments from 2016? Any you would like to forget?
2016 has been such an incredible year. I was able to truly take my passion and love of music and make it my career. But meeting one of my idols, Jay Z, at “Made in America” festival was truly special. Having him come up and tell me that he is following my story and is a fan of my music is something that I will never forget. Then performing later in the year in front of 22,000 people at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on his TidalX concert was another amazing experience.
What themes does your new album PK: Preacher’s Kid touch?
My upcoming album, PK: Preacher’s Kid, is truly a reflection of life in 2016. You will hear a little bit of everything that everyday people are talking about on the album, from politics to social issues to party songs and everything in-between. My goal is to heal hip-hop. As a genre, its is in a very bad spot musically, but more importantly the messaging in the music, how we treat our women and so many other areas. I hope to be one piece to the puzzle to usher in a new sound and one that will empower the listeners to usher in change.
Check out the short film June, below.