Training Camp (Underground Hip Hop… Literally)
Performing on NYC trains and platforms has a special place in my heart. I love seeing great performers of all kinds do their thing in the subway. The atmosphere is like no other, the diverse audience, and range of competing sounds and activity provide a raw and colorful backdrop for performers and unsuspecting audiences. A few years ago we were one of the few people presenting underground Hip Hop on moving NYC trains. Underground Hip Hop… Literally. My friend Akil and I rocked on the S train, and others (4,5,6,L,A,B,C) back and forth for countless hours almost daily for a few years. We had a ton of fun, learned plenty, and made a lot of money. The experience was always super uplifting and encouraging. We got on packed trains full of people, never knowing how they might react, what folks might say, and or do. The trains were sometimes so crowded that Akil would have to hold & play his guitar upright, aiming at the ceiling due to the lack of space, and I would tippy toe turning my face in a way to make sure my voice filled the cart, also to avoid rapping directly into a strangers face only inches from mine. The improv, the spontaneity, the necessary sharpness all made for an awesome experience. We played originals, flipped covers, and the biggest hit of them all was when we would freestyle. We were even recognized and selected by MUNY (Music Under New York) to receive a licence/permit to legally play on platforms.
For Such a Train as This
So… Fast forward a few years and here I am today. A bit removed from the subway music scene; serving The Lord, and just operating in a different space creatively. My brother Dame has been encouraging me to join him on the train to share the gospel though Hip Hop, and although I’ve been eager to, we just hadn’t been able to make it happen, although he’s been doing it on his own, praise God. My wife has also been constantly encouraging me to get back on the train, but this time to share Jesus. And then It just clicked! My wife and I made up in our mind’s that today would be the day, yet neither of us told the other. So Later after church when she said “you should get on the train today” I was pretty shocked that she had been thinking exactly what I had been thinking. We have a new phrase for this kind of thing, we call it “God-cidental”. So by Gods grace, my family and I prayed, and went for it! I brought my two eldest children with me; Randy to be my drummer, and Ari to film. Contrary to the stone cold faces you may see in the video many people were visibly moved, without a doubt God moved mightily throughout the whole experience. Seeds were planted, others were watered, and God was/is surely bringing forth the increase. I told my son, “don’t be moved by reactions, or the lack there of. Don’t worry about applauds, or the lack there of. It doesn’t mean anything either way. The real work takes place where we cannot see. In the heart and mind of the people.” Sure enough after a few songs ended in pin drop silence, and all faces seemingly either displaying disapproval, disagreement, or borderline disrespect, a man got up and encouraged us. Not only encouraged my kids and I, but basically gave the entire train cart an exhortation. You can’t make this stuff up. Super proud of my kids, and the courage God gave them to be able to be bold enough to participate in this ministry.
Trainsformers is something like NYC’s first underground (and sometimes above ground) mobile church. Transforming lives, and atmosphere with the love of God through Hip Hop on NYC trains. Pray for this ministry, that it be fruitful, and that the enemy forever be in retreat as we go forth sharing the gospel. God bless.