Rapping pastor preaches religion with rhyme

February 19, 2013 3:52:23 PM PST
Some people are very good at combining careers, like football player and actor Jim Brown, or painter and singer Tony Bennett. ABC7's Frank Mathie found an even more unusual career combination- a rapping pastor.

University Church on the University of Chicago campus is headed by Pastor Julian Deshazier, 29.

He was born and raised in Chicago and is a graduate of U of C's Divinity School.

He says it is difficult to preach in a changing, younger world.

"Well, it's a challenge. You know we don't throw away the old classic message of gospel or of love, or peace and courage. Because those are words the church needs to continue to own. But we do have to re-package them," said Deshazier.

Deshazier re-packages religion in a very unusual way. He preaches religion with rhyme.

"Sometimes you have to do a little hip hop. During one of your sermons, if need be," he said.

Deshazier has been preaching for ten years and rapping professionally for five. Although they don't seem to go together, Deshazier believes the two are related.

"I don't think I rap religion. I think that I rap about life. I rap about the narrative of all our experiences... The same thing that sermons are about," he said.

Around the Chicago-area, the pastor is known by his rapper name, J Kwest.

"I grew up loving rap, participating in it and then it's just another part of who I am. I think a song in a lot of ways works a lot like the way a pastor works," he said.

However, he says he doesn't use rap as a pulpit.

"It never turns into a dogmatic kind of speech that's supposed to lead people in a certain way. What it really does is hopefully lead people into a greater understanding and awareness of themselves and their God," he said.

For more information, visit www.jkwest.com.