Meet Twin Gospel Rappers Russ and Roe Martin
Editor’s note: ahead of the Chicago Gospel Music Festival on June 2nd and 3rd, Picture This Post interviewed some of the groups to get to know the singers and choirs performing (you can check out our first day recap of the 32nd Annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival). Next is R&R, who performed on Friday from 1:10-1:30. This interview has been slightly condensed.
PTP: “When did you start singing Gospel Music? How old were you? How did it come about? Are your parents/siblings musicians? What were your first musical experiences? Was your first exposure at Church? If so, which one?”
R&R: Our gospel rap first started seven years ago back in the year 2010. We were 11 or 12 years old when our father asked us if we were interested in pursuing a rap career. One night while we were coming home from bowling, the million dollar question came about and that’s how it all got started. At first, we were positive rappers, and slowly started converting to Gospel music as we grew further and further into the church. Musicians run through our family as well as music so we are truly blessed for that. Our father/manager had his own career as a positive rapper, and then passed the sticks down to us to take it over.
PTP: “Where were you born/where did you grow up? How did music figure into your upbringing?”
R&R: My brother and I were born on the Southside of Chicago in August 1997. The Southside of Chicago is where we spent our childhood years growing up until this very day. Music hs always inspired my family as a whole. We must say that my dad was very music based, in which made us more interested into becoming musically inclined as well. From singing in the choir as younglings, to growing up and singing in show choir and high-school, music has always played a major role in our lives.
PTP: “Why is Gospel Music important to you?”
R&R: Gospel Music is very important to R&R because it is a way of life spiritually for us. Growing up listening to good gospel music every day stuck with us as we grew older, and eventually we started playing it and listened to it on our own. Now, we understand why our parents did what they did when making us come up within the four church walls. Gospel music feeds nutrients to our soul when you need it the most. We’re blessed to be in the position we’re in to spread the gospel through our music to the young and the old.
PTP: “What have been the major Gospel competitions you have won or other milestones in your career?”
R&R: We have had some gospel shows throughout our days of ministering. First starting off into our career, we won the Talent show at Morgan Park High School as Freshman. There were about 10-15 acts including seniors and took first place.
Furthermore, one of the first major gospel competitions that we did and was shown forth recognition was at the “The Black Essence Awards” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We won a major award for our performance. Another major event that we did and took the crowd by storm was “Soul of The City,” which also took place in Grand Rapids. Fantasia and Usher did a special appearance for that show.
One of the most recent Gospel Competitions that we won was the auditions to perform at the Chicago Gospel Festival. We are honored and blessed to be in the position that we are in.
PTP: “When did you decide to become a professional musician and Gospel Singer? Or is this a sideline for you?”
R&R: When we first started rapping in 2010, it didn’t take us long before we fully converted into full blown gospel rap. If I had to choose a specific time, it would probably be in 2011 when we started performing in churches and becoming Gospel Artists. This is what we do as a primary goal. If we had a sideline, it would truly be singing in the choir.
PTP: “When you are not rehearsing or performing or doing other things related to your music how do you spend time? Any hobbies? Besides Gospel music, what are your main interests?”
R&R: When my brother and I aren’t rehearsing or performing, were normally trying to seek employment to work, or we are in school pursuing our degrees. As far as hobbies go, we like to play basketball and go bowling. Event though we grew up playing football through our father’s program, we like to play other sports as well. We’d catch a movie with the family occasionally as well.
PTP: “How have you seen the Gospel Music world changing in recent years? Are any of these changes influencing your musical style?”
R&R: Truthfully, Gospel Music to us only changes when you allow it to. In relations to that, Gospel Music will always remain the same to us. You have different genres of Gospel, but our style will remain the same. If it were to change up a bit, it would only be to keep up with the hip culture of our generation to capture their attention.
PTP: “Please tell me about each piece in your program, why did you choose this piece? What do you hope the audience will hear in this piece?”
R&R: We are performing six songs.
I AM- We chose to perform this piece because it speaks of the true definition of who we really are. We also set the tone for people not to judge a book by its cover. Not all black men are gang-bangers and thugs. In performing this piece, the only challenge we is to inform others of who we are, but not how you portray us to be. This is what we hope the audience will understand through this piece.
Pray Hard-We chose to perform this piece because it’s an attention-grabber. This song is telling everybody who’s repping God to put in their hands in the air, and wave ‘em like they just don’t care. We hope to deliver this message in hope that others on the wrong path, may receive an invitation to Christ.
Disciple-We chose to perform this piece because it’s encouraging the audience to stand up and be a Disciple of God. We hope that the audience realizes that it’s never to late to start over again.
Manolo-We chose to perform this piece because of the inspiration of Trip Lee and Lecrae. It is an honor to perform their song to show forth interest in their music and because we like the message that they are giving within their song. Most people would think that they are talking about guns, but they are really referencing to the Holy Bible. We found that amazing and wanted to cover their song in the Gospel Music Festival. The challenge that we face in performing this piece is for the audience to get that we are talking about the Bible and not guns. There is a bigger point to this song.
Christ For Life- We chose to perform this piece to do a gospel cover of the Easy E track, “We Want Easy.” We did in honor of the late legendary rapper, Easy E. The gospel spin on the song is to notify others that we are representing Jesus Christ.
Game Changer-We chose to perform this piece because we are telling bible stories within our song at first hand. We also realized that this is a crowd favorite, as well as realizing that God is a true game changer.
PTP: “Many of our readers know little about Gospel Music. What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about Gospel Music and this Festival?”
R&R: All gospel music is intended to give God all the honor, glory, and praise. No matter what form the music may come, it is all intended to form one goal. This goal is to praise God while showing him recognition as well for dying for our sins. It may be a major Gospel Music Festival, but we all know what they main purpose is.
PTP: “Do you have a website?”
R&R: Yes we do have a website. It is www.russandroe.com You can find our music within Sound cloud on our website, as well as photos, a brief history of us, and T-shirts/CD’s for sale. Please book if you are interested in us ministering.
All photos/video credited to Picture This Post.
MORE: read other profiles of gospel performers, including Glenn Johnson and the Voices of Innerpeace, The University of Illinois Black Chorus, Isaiah Freeman, God's Posse, Neicy Robertson, and the Selah St. Sabina Youth Choir.