Although Agape (real name David Scherer) has flown under the radar of the mainstream music industry, he has built a pretty impressive resume for a rapper. He has toured full-time for the last six years in the US and Europe, sold over 20,000 records, and worked with acclaimed hip hop producer Ant on his last CD "Many Rooms". Despite performing at the ELCA National Gathering this summer for 40,000 young people in San Antonio, he continues to build connections with his audience one person at a time. The meaning of Agape’s name is summed up in the acronym he made up. The word "Agape" means the unconditional love of God. The "A" stands for African, Asian, and other marginalized ethnic groups in our society. The "E" stands for Europeans. The "GAP" represents the expansive space between the two groups. The only way to really bridge the gap is through God's boundless love. On his newest effort “Sprinkle Sunshine”, Agape combines his mature flow and newfound knack for melody writing with talented new producers Mystro and Profound. The result is Agape’s best sounding project ever. In true Agape fashion, he attempts to tackle all of the elephants in the Sanctuary that the Church refuses to deal with (anorexia, homosexuality, and racism to name a few). The majority of the album feels like Donnie Hathaway with a throwback jersey on. Sonically, it is a celebration of life and love that recalls the 70’s when positive vibes ruled the charts. Lyrically, it is a prophetic message intended to wake people up to the realities of life. On “Rejoice”, Gospel singer Tonia Hughes sings the catchy hook over a soulful, happy dance track. Just when you think everything is a joyful celebration, Agape switches things up to a more somber tone. On the song “Let’s Face This” Agape confesses his own racism over an introspective Spanish guitar. With help from Rachel Kurtz and Krukid, this haunting track culminates in an experimental trip hop ending that leaves listeners uneasy. What sticks out this album is the incredible production value. With such a high-energy stage show, fans will be excited to hear that Agape’s CDs are now on par with his incredible performances. Performing over 100 times a year in nearly every state, check out Agape in a city near you. (www.hiphopoutreach.com)
WHY I MADE MANY ROOMS
We’re more concerned with the label of music than the lyrics of the music. God can use whoever God wants to to touch people. If God wanted to use DMX to bring somebody closer to God than God could do that. Take Bach for example. Bach wasn’t a Christian composer. He was a composer. He understood that because he was a person of faith his faith was intrinsically woven into every note of music he made. So now we have to have our own little section of the music store to feel safe about life again. Our God is bigger than one section of the store. You’d be surprised where our God is. My father’s music store has many sections in it.
We’re more worried about creating heavenly robots for Christ than thinking Christians that can function in the world. Paul Tillich said Faith without doubt and questioning is not faith. Somehow we’ve gone from inquisitive journeyers and God dancers to stagnant self righteous wall-flowers. How did that happen. We’ve decided who God was before God was even able to dance with us. But my God is a dancer. My mother’s disco has many questioners in it. So dance on.
We’ve created a God who’s house is only big enough for the right people. It couldn’t possibly be big enough for people who think differently than I do? It couldn’t possibly be big enough for conservative and liberal it’s one or the other. It couldn’t possibly be big enough for straight and gay, rich and poor. Black and white. Let me ask you a question…Would you really be disappointed if everyone made it to heaven? I think some of yall would actually. Then that wage you were working for would be cheapened somehow. But I wanna let you know. My father’s house has many rooms in it. My father’s house has many rooms in it.
ART IMITATE LIFE
I was privileged to work with Lowell Michelson (Echelon) and Micah Taylor (Trace) on this song. I always wanted to be in Def Leperd, and I think this song might be as close as I come to that dream. The bummer with this song is that it is missing a huge heavy metal Usher “you got it bad” cheesy guitar solo. It is hard to truly rock out without this element. It does, however, have some of my favorite lyrics on the album and hopefully a concept that will get people to no longer bulldoze their Dave Matthews CDs.
This beat just shows you how good Luke Harper is as a producer. This song is like Enya sittin’ on 20s. These were the easiest lyrics I have ever written because they just came to me from, you guessed it, the spirit. I have felt God’s spirit in so many different ways that weren’t the typical five clichés that we usually use. I think we all have felt some kind of strong emotion and didn’t quite know what it is was. John tells us that the wind blows wherever it chooses. Hopefully folks dig it. Kira gets nasty with that Destiny’s Child finish.
BEST I CAN
This song was funny because my producer Ant had this amazing beat that I didn’t know what to do with. It was darker than I was used to and I had no idea what to write about. I was supposed to be going into the studio the next day and didn’t have anything.
The night before I went in, my producer Ant told me “Just go down into your soul and find out what song it is singing.” Apparently the song it was singing was “Best I can.” I hammered out the lyrics very quickly and read it from paper. I normally have my lyrics memorized by the time I go into the studio. Because this song was so new to me, I feel like there was a little more rawness to it than when I have it down pat. Somebody told me this was a “realistic love song”.
ALL ARE WELCOME
This song is going to be used as one of the theme songs for the ELCA national youth gathering. I recorded it with my good friend Thomas Mclaurin. As we came up with the hook and heard the beat, it just started to evoke strong emotions in everyone that was present at the recording. Pretty soon there was this unspoken language between us where we knew the truth in the song. There were a few times during the chorus where I became choked up. Having grown up with the question, “Where do I fit in to the church?” This was my attempt to show my support for others who felt the same way I did growing up. I hope it blesses someone the way it blessed us that night.
This was written after 9-11 from a place of total anger and sadness. It made me so sad to think of how our world would change after that day. Within writing the song in my anger, I kept feeling the steadying presence of God. I did not censor this song when I wrote it, I just tried to pour my feelings onto the paper. As an artist, it is important to speak your truth as much as possible. On September 11th that was my truth.
ONE HAND CLAP
Talk about a strange song. When I was younger, my step mom used to sing a song with the lyrics “oyaya.” I started singing that same phrase one day over this boom bap track and just laughing about it. I went into the studio and started recording it, half jokingly. Fader and I both found it to be kind of fresh, so we stayed with it. Despite its status as being the lone goofball track on the disk, it is also my way of showing my one handed clapping skills. Ant had the idea that we should just record ourselves talking in the background like a party. Not shouting, “whoop whoop,” just talking. It gives it energy and the mandatory goofiness it possesses.
People have said that this is the most controversial song on my CD. The idea that a mass murderer is not beyond the redemption of God is a radical thought to some. When I performed the song for my friends Lost and Found, they thought it was great, but they helped me tone it down a little so that people could hear it in a way that wouldn’t be as alienating. I really like the beat that Ant came up with. We originally had more of a reggae chorus but I think this one works.
STOP AND LISTEN
I got very excited the first time I heard this beat. It reminded me of an old Nintendo game I used to play called “Castlevania”. It was a late addition to the CD but a good one. The lyirics stem from, surprise, more frustration with The Church. I feel the same dichotomy Martin Luther did as a dedicated son to The Church and a frustrated rebel at the same time. Luther once said, “The church is a prostitute, but she’s my mother.” I couldn’t have said it better. It feels to me like we have turned a deaf ear to Micah’s pleas to “do justice” in the world. Problem is, I can only yell so loud from my back porch. I pray daily that God would help me do justice from a place of wholeness and compassion rather than guilt.
This is the thesis of the album. The idea that God’s grace extends to more people than we would like it to. The beat is masterfully crafted by Ant. He has been manipulating old samples long before this recent wave of Kanye West and Just Blaze emerged in hip hop. I thought that in the singers voice, you could feel the pain of those ostracized from faith communities. After a Bishop I know gave a call to action to fight for the downtrodden, I felt like this song was needed, especially in post 9-11 bigotry.
As I get older and older, I begin to open up more and more to different types of music. This song stemmed from my recent love affair with folk music. Setting aside those hip hop purists that say mixing the two is a mortal sin, I decided to follow the leads of The Fugees (“Vocab” in 1994) and De La Soul (“Fallin” in 1993) and try it anyway. I am so grateful to my mentors Lost and Found for blessing the track. We recorded it once and then had to re-record it. They were troopers about the whole thing. I have found this song to be a source of strength for dealing with the death of my grandfather.
It’s based on a sermon of my dad’s. The beat just sounds like an old Donnie Hathaway song or something. It just reminds me of driving on a Saturday afternoon without a care in the world. I knew I had to bring out the positive elements of the beat. Thomas hit some notes on there that made Michael Jackson mad. It is so nice to know that God is working through those around us. I know a lot of “Kyles” that are really struggling with stuff. I hope this song will get into their being.
Remember when I said One Hand Clap was the only goofy track on the album? I lied. This song has absolutely no theological meaning to it whatsoever. Basically, I got out my Christian music encyclopedia one day and thought it would be funny to play with everyone’s name in CCM and see how many of them I could fit into one song. The first verse I did were my friends from Churchnoise.com and the rest were the heavy hitters. That guitar sample was pretty cool that Ant found.
I wrote this on a seminary campus. All of the questions that the students were tackling inspired me to write this. The song was written very quickly as the questions poured out. I wrote it without the beat. We were really frustrated because it wasn’t working with the beat we were trying it with. As we were about to give up, my producer Fader (Luke Harper) said he had one more beat tucked away that we should try. The minute I heard it, I knew it was it. We turned off the lights in the studio, I took my shirt off, went buck wild, and shortly thereafter had a song recorded.