Rapping for God

By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer

When it comes to music, rap generally gets a bad rap — even if it is Christian-based, according to Clovis pastor David Dawson.

“We, as parents and adults have gotten so wrapped up in what is bad for kids,” Dawson said. “It’s not the music that is bad for our kids. We need to understand the generation gap and bridge that gap. This is a new era.”

Helping usher in the new era is Ray Ontiveros of Albuquerque, who Dawson met while working with youth as part of a street ministry.

“Ray had the heart and desire to do Christian music,” said Dawson, a gospel recording artist. “I have been blessed to watch him grow. He has the heart for the ministry.”

Ontiveros has turned his heart for ministry and ability to rap into a recording career.

Ontiveros and Dawson are among several hip-hop gospel artists performing in concert Thursday at the Lyceum Theater. Ontiveros will share his faith in Christianity through his song, T.E.S.T.

“My music has a very strong message about God and what he’s done in my life. I rap because I genuinely want to make a difference with my music,” said Ontiveros, whose album “Tested” will be out soon.

Ontiveros, who goes by the stage name Standing Tall in Faith, believes hip-hop gospel is a form of music that will get his message out to today’s youth.

“This concert is cool because anyone can go to it and enjoy the music,” Ontiveros said. “There is no drugs, no gangs, nothing like that in the music that will be played there.”

Christian rap is a form of hip-hop music that uses Christian-themed lyrics as a tool for expressing the songwriter’s faith, Dawson said.

“He’s just a young kid with a vision,” Dawson said. “Parents need to come to this concert — with or with out their kids — and shake their groove thang. Because you know what? I’ll dance with Jesus any day.”