Proving to be quite the multi-tasker, as he continues to sign phenomenal talent like V. Rose and Young Noah to his boutique label, Clear Sight Music, GRAMMY® -nominated and Billboard topper Christian hip-hop artist Flame has been on quite a creative tear himself lately.
With his highly anticipated sixth album, appropriately titled The 6th, the four-time Dove Award and two-time Stellar Award nominee continues to prove he’s one of the industry’s premier artists as he experiments with innovative new beats, catchy rhymes and inspired collaborations with everyone from DecembeRadio to LeCrae to Thi’sl.
While The 6th has plenty of style, however, Flame never sacrifices substance as the lyrics are jam-packed with relevant reflections on the human condition.
“Really, it’s a study of anthropology as we look at mankind from many different angles,” says Flame, a.k.a. Marcus Gray. “God created humans on the sixth day, we are the climax of God’s creation, and God deposited so much meaning—and purpose—into us as humans. So I wanted to explore what that means. Are we still where He intended us to be? How far have we actually fallen from the pace, and how do we return to our original purpose? Those are the questions I explore in this album.”
Setting the groundwork for the album thematically, “Let Go” featuring DecembeRadio, finds Flame rhyming about how everything that mankind has been searching for is found in a person, Jesus Christ.
“It’s about realizing who we were, whose we are, where we fell from, and the need to surrender and submit to Him, in order to return” Flame says. “Money, fame, power, women, nothing can ultimately satisfy us the way Christ can.”
Continuing with the theme of finding our ultimate fulfillment in a relationship with our Redeemer, “Show Out,” featuring LeCrae, is a bold proclamation of how our lives aren’t really about us at all.“This song is all about bragging on Jesus and returning to our original purpose,” Flame shares. “Jesus showed up on the Cross and showed out when he was resurrected. And because of that, our lives are about Him, not anything we’ve got going on.”
Another one of the album’s standout tracks, “Trap Money,” featuring Thi’sl and Young Noah, is about the misguided illusion that having money makes everything all right.“Everyone is talking about ‘the trap’ in hip-hop right now, it’s this really popular buzzword for the ‘hood.’ It’s the sphere of the community where drugs are being sold,” Flame explains. “We’re saying in the chorus how trap money is good, it’s coming fast, it seems like it’s going well. But really, the wrath is only piling up because their hearts are being hardened. The pleasure of trap money or anything that replaces God is only for a moment.”
“Caught in the Lights” is a song that provides the listener with yet another outstanding performance by V.Rose. Flame discusses different scenarios of people chasing the limelight and reminds them that they can gain the world, but still lose their soul.
Inspired by the world around him—and the people he meets along the way, Flame has always wanted to use the music that inspired Him to be able to reach the world with God’s message.
Further enhancing his ministry has been his work on a Master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southern Seminary in Louisville, not to mention the prayerful support and stalwart encouragement from his community of believers at Immanuel Baptist Church.
More than anything, Flame wants listeners to know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
“I always grew up influenced by Christianity. I liked the idea of going to heaven—and not to hell—and being on Jesus’s good side, but I didn’t want to take the steps to make that happen,” Flame says. “I was caught up in the hip-hop culture of gangs and drugs myself and headed in the wrong direction.”
But a series of tragic events eventually got his attention. “After getting hit three times by an 18-wheeler, my grandmother told me I needed to repent and turn from my sin,” Flame remembers. “Not long after she passed away from a heart attack, I went to church. There, I heard the Gospel, wept like a baby and was drawn to Him when I was 16. That’s when I became a Christian. Shortly afterwards, I started writing music as little devotionals to God.”
Eventually, converting those ruminations to song, Flame hasn’t stopped writing since and loves using the medium of hip-hop to not only minister to the hurting and build up the body of Christ, but to tell the story of His Savior to a world that desperately needs to hear it.