Beautiful Eulogy is a hip-hop group based in Portland, Oregon comprised of Braille, Odd Thomas, and Courtland Urbano. They got to know each other at various times as adults.
Odd Thomas lived in Los Angeles, California, and Braille in Portland. In the early 00s, Braille would regularly travel to L.A. to engage in the hip-hop scene there. “Thomas and I would hear of each other but we didn’t really know each other. I think the first time we crossed paths would have been about thirteen or fourteen years ago.” Around 2009, Thomas and his wife moved to Portland, and “by 2010 we became best friends, kicking it all the time,” said Braille.
Courtland Urbano is the youngest of the group and grew up as a fan of Christian hip-hop. “One of his friends was DJing for me. The first time I met Courtland, I didn’t even know we worked on music,” said Braille. As a young producer Urbano travelled to Portland for an event and met Odd Thomas.
As time passed, Braille said that “by around 2010, going into 2011, all three of us were living in Portland, Oregon and we were all a part of Humble Beast and all members of the same church.” They each worked individually at first and when collaborating on the albums of other Humble Beast artists they recognized their chemistry and decided to start making music as a group.
Urbano is the producer of the trio, and Braille and Odd Thomas rap on each song. When they write, Braille said,
“We have a concept, Courtland has made some beats, we attach that concept to a particular beat and then we begin discussing who’s gonna be the first verse, who’s gonna be the second verse and what are gonna be the respective angles.”
Part of their writing process after they come up with an idea for a song is studying scripture and theology to make sure that what they are saying is truthful and sound.
In 2012, Beautiful Eulogy released their first album Satellite Kite. It was followed by Instruments of Mercy in 2013. In between the projects, they came up with the idea for their newest album, Worthy. Braille spoke of the concepts that went into the album, saying “One would be Revelation 5, ‘Worthy is the lamb who was slain,’ so this is the praise of Jesus as the savior of the world because He, with His blood purchased a people for God.”
In Acts 5, the Apostles are arrested because they were preaching about Jesus, and they said in the courts that they must obey God rather than man.
“As they leave from that whole encounter they rejoice because they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the name [of Jesus].”
Braille also said that because Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be saved, any hardship the Christian faces is worth enduring because of the promise of the future glory of God. In the letters of Saint Paul, he repeatedly said that Christians should conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.
Anthony Benedetto is the Creative Director at Humble Beast Records and created the album artwork for Worthy. “When we thought of Worthy we wanted to do something that was minimal but embellished. Something that was regal,” said Thomas. He also said that they choose not to include photos of themselves on any of their album artwork because they do not want people to be distracted by or focus on their own images.
Something you may not have noticed when looking at the tracklist is that the title of each song is a single word. “The idea was to take words and explore the depth of their meaning.”
“If…” is the first full length song on Worthy. Braille said they wanted to use “the most simple word and show how when you place that word in a sentence it can change the meaning of the sentence. Very often you’ll find things in the scriptures like ‘You will be saved if you continue in the faith.’”
In the second verse, Thomas takes inspiration from the story of Job that if he has Jesus, his experience in the most difficult times of life will be radically different than that of another person without his hope.
The second single from Worthy was “Sovereign.” Thomas wants people to understand what God’s sovereignty is like and how as a result of that it is so meaningful and inspiring. He also wanted to show how ridiculous it seems for humans to debate about the sovereignty or lack thereof of God when He is ultimately supreme.
“Mosaic” was the final song completed that would make the album. Thomas and Braille had come up with the chorus, and when Braille went to write for his verses, he was inspired to talk about the importance of remaining faithful to God in the face of brokenness, especially within personal relationships.
“I actually have to come to a recognition of my brokenness to see my need for Jesus with a stronger sense of urgency and despair. It’s not even that I’m becoming more broken, I’m becoming more aware of how broken I am.”
Braille said that in knowing his brokenness, he has come to a greater understanding of how Jesus can make him whole.
Thomas said that when studying theology, justice is a pivotal attribute that God brings to the world which is filled with injustice and inequality. “Ultimately it is a sense of resting in hope that ultimate justice will be served when Christ returns, bringing perfect justice with Him.” With “Slain,” they wanted to speak on justice which they are not known for being outspoken for.
This fall Beautiful Eulogy is on tour, and for someone who has never been to a concert, Urbano said “I think our ultimate aim is that people would walk away encouraged in the faith. We always preach the gospel at the end of the night. Also, our hope is that people would come to know Christ at our shows.” He says that through their music, they invite and engage people to praise and honor God.