Sir The Baptist is ready to officially bring us to church with his debut album, Saint Or Sinner.
The Atlantic Records recording artist, who hails from Chicago’s Southside, implements a healthy mix of hip-hop, soul, R&B and gospel-infused stylings in his songs, and his LP is set to drop on Friday, May 12.
As one of the first acts to perform that brisk Saturday (May 6) at Washington D.C.’s Broccoli City Festival, Sir preached the good word by performing some of his songs including “Creflo Almighty Dollar,” “What We Got,” “Second Line Ball” and “Heaven.” He implemented a gospel-tinged call-and-response section providing audience interaction during the latter, and also invited a young fan on stage to sing with him. The most interesting aspect of his set was when he surprised skeptical concertgoers by giving out his actual phone number, stating that he only wants to be called by those who are serious about making a positive change socially and musically.
During some downtime from the festivities, Sir spoke to VIBE about his goals for 2017, what he hopes to accomplish with his debut album, and how he hopes music can get back to a more holistic frequency to heal the world.
VIBE: What can we expect from Saint Or Sinner?
Sir The Baptist: It’s a balance of this church kid that tries to go and do the music industry, and realizes that it stole so many people. The Michael Jacksons: you know, he was pulled between his spiritual side and the side that wanted to just sing and be popular. Whitney [Houston]: singing in the choir, and then realizing she wanted to do more with her voice, but then when she tried to do more with it, they tried to steal her soul. It was push-and-pull with her, and you find her in a tub.
We’re here to holistically heal all the wounds that they [the industry] gave us. These [artists] are traumatized, traumatized saints. With the album, you get to see the balance of saint and sinner, and how I went through that same process, but I escaped fame. Fame is hard. I wanna be famous for doing the right thing, and that’s even harder. So many people would just turn away from fame and’ll be like “f**k it.” I wanna be famous for caring about people.
And you gotta make sure that they don’t dig back and try to find the corruption within your story. People like to read about the bad and they like to make the best people villains.
Yes. They did that with Prince. They have video of him leaving the pharmacy getting drugs. They want this! All of these artists are falling into it. We need to put music back into 432 [Hz], that’s the frequency that heals people. It’s probably the frequency that David played his harps in when he pushed away demons in The Bible days. We’re not even in that frequency anymore, and if you look at frequencies, it affects how your body is. Your body is maybe 80 percent water, and frequencies make it move. Look at you! [Erykah] Badu is playing [at the festival] and now your stance is centered! Badu centers people. That’s the secret, frequency and sound bathing. All the greatest people in the world understood frequencies.
What are you hoping that listeners will get out of the new material?
I hope they get the feeling. I’m trying to bring the feeling and the importance back into a frequency that we’re not supposed to be in. I’m trying to calm down the frequency somehow with this music.
Any features we can look forward to?
I’ve got songs with Brandy and a bunch of people, Killer Mike, Twista.
How has your upbringing helped carve out the distinction of your sound?
The first song I released was “Raise Hell,” and it had stomps and claps in it. Those stomps are sort of a reflection of the wood that was in the pews, or the wood that was in the choir stand that you would stomp, and you’d hear that when we were in the choir stand. Even down to certain frequencies that I put into the music, it’s based on what I grew up with and where I came from. Even now, we’re having a hard time with that song and putting it on the album, simply because people don’t even know how to mix that type of music. They’re like, ‘how do I mix stomps and claps with 808’s?’ It’s finding that balance of our higher and our lower self.
So, why perform hip-hop and not just straight-up gospel then?
Because gospel’s so f**kin’ wack! Gospel is wack as sh*t. I think if I had done gospel, it would have been a bad idea. You know what I mean? If I wanted to reach you, and you’re extremely valuable to me, I’d have to talk like we talk, like when we’re not in church. Or even when we’re in the pew and the pastor’s up there and we’re like, [out of the side of his mouth] “this mother f**ker right here…” [Laughs] I have to! I told somebody the other day, if Kendrick [Lamar] wasn’t as much of a rapper and was more of a preacher, God would have put me somewhere else. It gives me a chance to be more spiritual and gives us something more to hold onto, spirituality-wise. There’s a better balance.
Do you think you fit in with the “Chicago sound”?
I hate “Chicago sound.” I’m actually against it, I don’t like it. A lot of people come from Chicago, they think it’s a Chicago sound, it’s really not. It’s a New Orleans sound that migrated during the Great Migration to the north. I’m really sensitive about that. A sound without substance is nothing. Sound without history is nothing.
I can tell you every piece of what harmony, chord, arrangement, lyrics, inspiration comes from, and I can direct you to the neighborhood where that person lived, where that person walked. It’s a South sound, it comes from the South. Mississippi, Alabama, New Orleans, know where that comes from. New Orleans is part French, know why I say “second line.” When I say “I’m fresh to death, they’re second linin’ in the South” on one of the songs on the album, that’s reflecting what they do in New Orleans and they’ve got the horns, and they’re carrying the casket, coming down in the street. So, I like Chicago…but I don’t.
You’ve had a great 2016. Are you looking forward to anything in 2017?
I’m performing a lot, and then I go overseas a lot. I’ve never been overseas before, and I really get to implement what this [the mission of his music] really is. I guess in 2016, it got really gospel. A bunch of other artists in Chicago, they started talking about and using gospel music and the sound, the frequency, as a marketing gimmick, and I don’t really do that. Mine isn’t to pull in a certain type of listener, it’s mission-driven, not music driven. So this 2017, I get a chance to implement that.
You said during your set that your music and your career isn’t about you, it’s about us. I really like that.
It’s not at all about me! Not at all. This [mainstream] stuff, you’ll go home eventually and you’re like “I can’t even listen to that anymore, I don’t want that in my system.” This right now, it’s in a certain frequency where if you were braindead, your brain would still process the frequency, but wouldn’t process the key.
Any time I perform, anything I do, I never do it for me. I hope those fans see me as family too, because I really care about [them]. I want you to enjoy a song that talks about you, not a song that calls you a b***h. Especially someone of your intellect and your beauty, you should be appreciated and not depreciated.
The way I ran with Rodney Jerkins, who produced Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and all that, we understand that music surpasses understanding and reasoning. You’re gonna remember this popular stuff whether you want to or not, and if I was to pass anything to you, I’d want it to be something that’s soul food, good for your life. Not just “oh, I’m f**kin’ cool. Look what I could do.”
I’ll never forget when Jay Z walking up to me and being like “thank you.” He saw that I cared about you all and that I love doing what I do. From there, I got to open up a show for Beyonce and work with Brandy and all these other artists that we actually appreciate. These newcomers are just…
Some of them really want to do things for fame. It’s cool to get recognized, but you can’t do it just to get recognized, you have to do it because you love it.
Yes! Please put that in your article when you write this up? Oh G*d dammit! Listen, they’re abusing frequency! Whether we like it or not, they’re getting people to remember [their songs]. Like the McDonald’s jingle, “ba-da-ba-ba-ba!” You didn’t even realize you were rocking with that song, you were just buying into the frequency, the sound, and now you want a burger. Frequency is a part of hypnotizing. I know I sound crazy, but I care!