Rapper writes music that's family-friendly

Tyree Sterling leans on his faith for rap

April 05, 2010|BY CHRIS COPLEY
  • Tyree Sterling has released a Christian hip-hop album, "Rock Wit It."
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer,

Tyree Sterling, 32, of Hagerstown acknowledged that some people find the concept of Christian hip-hop to be a contradiction. Christianity encourages living a moral life of serving others, but hip-hop, well, its values are very different.

"There's four things you find in secular rap - sex, drugs, violence, self-image," Sterling said during a recent visit to The Herald-Mail. "This CD actually reaches people - grandmas, dads. People who don't like hip-hop, they do buy this CD."

By "this CD," Sterling means "Rock Wit It," a collection of 12 songs or spoken tracks he released in October. Sterling produced the album under his performance name, Shaddai Sons. He wrote or adapted all the songs, rapped the lyrics and produced the album himself. Beats were courtesy of Antwan Thomas, Charles Riggins and Spencer Jackson.

Sterling is senior youth pastor at Gateway Ministries, a large church in Williamsport. He has released one previous solo album, but he said he approached this new CD in a new way.


"This album is totally different from the last one," he said. "Different people for production. This is pointed more toward different groups of people. Toward different situations."

For instance, one song, "Pro 31," is aimed at young women. The title is a reference to chapter 31 of the biblical book of Proverbs, which praises the characteristics of "a virtuous woman."

Another song, "What Cha Know Good?," is Sterling's statement to Christians who abandon their religion in the face of hard times. His advice: Don't doubt that God will take care of you.

"We may be in recession," he said, "but it is well with my soul."

Sterling said this album's songs are mid-tempo - fast enough to engage listeners, but not so fast you can't understand the lyrics.

Engaging listeners is what Sterling is all about. He acknowledges that Christians and Christian churches are going through tough times. For churches to survive and be vital in the lives of parishioners and communities, Sterling said, they've got to connect with people.

"There has to be a place in the church for everyone - for grandmas, for dad, for single parents, for kids," he said. "I'm a youth pastor (at Gateway Ministries), and I see that if you don't connect with the youth, your church will die. You definitely need to connect with the youth."

Sterling said "Rock Wit It" is available from iTunes, and Sterling leads youth activities at his church and sometimes performs at other events. Go to for a schedule of performances.

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