Before Jesus walked for Kanye West and hip hop fans were welcoming back Reverend Mase, Bronx resident Corey Red and his Staten Island cohort Precise were revolutionizing the industry with their form of Christian Rap.
The duo's album, Resistance Iz Futile, delivers a positive message of inspiration based on deep Christian values, mixed with the hard thumping beats people have come to expect from established hip hop acts. While not shying away from the raw and emotional street lyrics that have made acts like 50-Cent and DMX household names, the duo casts those street exploits in a new light, one that attempts to depict how Jesus has led them down the right path and past the obstacles that have claimed others.
However, the spiritual route was not always the way for either rapper. Growing up around Fordham Road, Corey Red went to P.S. 85, I.S. 137 and then Roosevelt High School and throughout it all, his grandmother "dragged" him to church, but religion was not that important to the Bronxite. "I thought of it as cruel punishment," he recalls. "I didn't get anything out of it. Truth is relative and I believe in Jesus, but the whole Son of God stuff…I was just so suspicious of everything. Then my life hit a brick wall in 1991."
Corey Red wanted money and chased the check the street way until he was stabbed in the chest and lay dying on the operating table in Bellevue Hospital. "I felt that if I was going to roll my dice, I might as well roll them on Jesus," he recalled. "Yo Jesus, if you are real, save me. I will do good; whatever. Two days later, I woke up and I couldn't out rule divine intervention. Afterward, it was a slow process, but I started changing my life and caring whether I died or not."
Precise led a similar life, one of crime that lasted until 1995. "In 1995, I personally met Christ and after the experience, it changed my life," said the Staten Island native, not elaborating on the experience. "Before then, a lot of my rhymes mirrored what you hear on the radio already. Hip Hop expresses life as you feel it from your own personal experiences. My life took a turn and I was now walking life with a relationship with God, so I started rapping about how he is true and how he does care for me."
Corey Red started to rap about spirituality, choosing that as his way of ministering to the public. The duo met in 1997 when a pastor from Brooklyn brought different rappers into Coney Island to talk to people. Corey Red was a soloist and Precise was part of a group called Kindred Spirits. "We didn't think of doing music together," said Red, who currently lives in Hunts Point in The Bronx. "We just talked to each other, but when his group broke up, he became a soloist and God showed us that there was work for us to do together."
The rest, as they say is history, as Corey Red and Precise started rapping together, but also discussing their faith in God at churches, prisons, colleges and everywhere else they go. "We are trying to get out the true understanding; the true knowledge of who Christ is," said Precise. "There are many stereotypes and stigmas on Christianity and Christians as a whole, but many have an interest in wanting to know about God and we can help them through our words. We are not pushing religion on anyone. We are just telling people that if it was not for God, we wouldn't be where we are today. We are just sharing our life experiences and what God has done for us."
In the years that they have been together, the duo has achieved some notoriety, not just in the United States but also in the UK and Iceland where the old school style of Hip Hop with a message still has significance. For Corey Red, it doesn't matter where they are heard, just that they are getting heard that matters. "I just wanted to get a fair shot," he said. "I have never been the type of person who got upset if someone heard us and didn't like us. I would rather be heard and not liked than not to have been heard at all. I am like a mailman in that I just deliver the mail. If you see that it is a bill and you rip it up, it's ok, as long as I was able to deliver the message."
The group has also received the respect of their peers, touring with the likes of Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, B.B. Jay, The Cross Movement, Tonex and Byron Cagebefore getting the once in a lifetime chance to open up for Bad Boy recording artist Carl Thomas at the Doug Banks Jam Session. However, for Red, all that matters is playing their brand of music. "Whether it is for 80,000 people or just eight people in a room, I will not be satisfied until the whole country and the whole planet knows about us and our message," he said. "We hear a lot on the news about priests molesting children, but what about when we played in front of gangstas with their bandanas and how when we got our message delivered, they threw their weeds and bandanas down and started praying to the lord, asking for Jesus. Why can't that be shown? That is what matters to us; when our stories reach people."
This 19-cut escapade is chock full of rugged and raw tracks that serve to backdrop the potent and powerful lyrical delivery of Red & Precise.
It would be too easy to compare this duo to Redman & Method Man. After all, both duos have an amazing street vibe and a lyrical intensity second to none. Yet, Red & Precise's flow is laced by the Holy Spirit, and their lyrics bear witness to this.
The leadoff track, titled "Bump In Da Night", gives outstanding insight into the potential of the duo. The vibe is straight East Coast and scratches that musical itch to nod your head to a gritty street track.
"The Martyr's Anthem" has Todd Bangz taking production duties. He does a fantastic job in support, as Red & Precise stress the importance of maximizing every moment of life and reflecting Christ with every decision in life. Bangz also adds his production to "Lyrical Biblical". The result? Another hit.
The hit producers keep coming as Majifrom The Yuinonlends his influence to "No Grey Lines" and "Propaganda". Lee Jerkins of the RockSoul family handles production for "What's Goin' On" along with "The Passion". "Da Matrix Joint" appears on this project after its initial appearance on the RockSoul Urban Compositions project, where it was titled "Wild Style". Again, the partnership with RockSoul and Red & Precise is as successful as peanut butter and jelly —it just flows!
Now, we know that producers don't show up if artists don't deliver. Well, believe all of the hype because Corey Red & Precise bring nothing but heat to their debut. "Q & A" is seemingly the sequel to Jadakiss' recent hit "Why?". The difference here is that Red & Precise challenge listeners to think of what one question they would possibly ask God if given the opportunity. The questions posed are mind boggling and the proposed answers are interesting.
"Gethsemane" begins with a classical feel, but soon morphs into a bumpin' track featuring that infectious beat found on the Mary J. Blige classic "Real Love". And lyrically, this is hip hop's equal to The Passion of The Christ movie. It's a descriptive piece that describes Christ's experience in the Garden of Gethsemane and brings continued life to this crucial moment in history.
Of all of the amazing songs on this album, the most notable offering is the much needed "Prayer 4 Hip-Hop". On this one, Red & Precise go acappella and move more into a spoken word format as they pray for hip hop and mainstream giants, ranging from R. Kelly and DMX to Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown. In their prayer, they speak of the importance of properly reverencing Christ while admonishing many not to run from God's call. It's strong, and is bound to impact hip hop as we know it. Read More Here