New Jersey artists Merk Montes and YP aka Young Paul released a new album, Love Over Hate, last month.
“God in his grace and his mercy and his unconditional love rescued us, although we were yet in our sin,” said YP. He wants people to see that himself and Montes are sold out for Jesus, saying, “We’re warriors in this thing. I used to be a warrior in the kingdom of darkness… I put myself on the front line for nothing really, for respect from the streets that really don’t care about you.”
Montes believes that their doing a collaboration album was part of God’s plan. “I was making music for the world… When God put it on my heart that He wants me to do music for him, I decided to reach out. He put YP on my heart.”
Montes said that he and YP grew up in the same neighborhood and had mutual friends, but never met each other until they both were following Christ. When Montes came to follow Christ, he said, “I woke up in a real dramatic way… I’ve seen evil spirits. I’ve seen people get possessed and I’ve seen the power in the name of Jesus how these demons fold.”
He quickly found himself on fire for Jesus and everyone in his community told him to talk to YP. “I was like ‘I don’t know YP. I know Jesus Christ. Let me tell you about Jesus.’” When Montes met YP, they immediately connected, saying “he was actually the first person that I met that had seen spiritual beings and God used him to comfort me.”
“We preach about the darkness. We preach about the brimstone. We preach about everything but you’ve gotta understand that love first,” said Montes. He also said that though the world promotes hate and sin, their first duty as a Christian is to love. “We got together and were like, lets explain we’re fallen human beings. We fall short of the glory. We need the grace. We need the mercy, but the love is what keeps us together.”
“I want to be able to appeal to the ones who don’t know Jesus and listen to our music like, ‘aw yeah, this sounds like whatever. Oh, he said Jesus in it? Oh, he’s talking about the Holy Spirit.’”
Listening to the album is designed to be a cinematic experience so they recommended to listen straight through and in order.
Love Over Hate begins with “Worth Dying For.” The listener first hears a mock emergency TV broadcast. “It’s cinematic. I feel like that was me sleeping,” said Montes. “You hear a voice from far away saying ‘Wake up. Wake up.’” The line Montes loves most is “I’m ready for war. I found something worth dying for.” The song is meant to be an anthem for warriors in the fight to follow Jesus.
The second track “Love Over Hate” addressed misconceptions about God. YP is trying to reconcile two views, one being that God is so loving that there are no consequences for our sins, and the second is that God doesn’t love us because the world is so messed up.
“We have to be bold in this newfound love… This love is not like human love. It’s not conditional. It’s not breakable. It’s not fragile. It’s strong. It’s sturdy and not because of us but because of the King of Kings.”
To those who question God allowing evil, YP says “He came down, took the worst form of punishment, lived as a human, felt that pain, felt those emotions and yet still died for us.” When thinking about Jesus’s crucifixion and death, YP knows that it must have been a horrific and agonizing death. This is how he knows God loves us. “Yes, we live in a world of darkness but there’s one who came to die for us and take all of that curse and reverse it on the cross. That’s real love.”
The fourth track of Love Over Hate is “D.O.P.E. Dealer.” D.O.P.E. is used as an acronym for “deliverance over prayers every day.”
When Montes met Jesus two-and-a-half years ago, he decided to start going to church. He wasn’t raised with religion and didn’t have much understanding of Christian beliefs.
“I’m thinking it’s all love… that’s when I started seeing the difference of how I would walk in the church and how I would get looked at and judged because my pants sagged a little bit or I didn’t have a suit on.”
He got the impression that people saw him as a dope dealer coming to church, which he was not.
“I came from that world, but Jesus redeemed me so I’m looking for Him and I’m going to a place where you think the hospital is, these churches where the sick go to… but I wasn’t getting that love.”
Experiencing rejection and alienation from the people of God was very discouraging to Montes, but he knew that Jesus held the truth. He thought, “why are you working against me when you should be helping me?”
Montes believes that through prayer, God will deliver us from our sins and temptations.
“D.O.P.E. Dealer” is followed by “Running,” featuring Isaiah Jenkins. It is meant to encourage the Christian to face their fears instead of run from them. Montes says the reason a person doesn’t have to run is “because there’s already victory in Jesus’ name.” In YP’s verse he tells the listener that he also struggles with sins and temptations. “We should be transparent with our weaknesses. We should come before God with our burdens.”
When Montes heard the beat to “Poison,” he thought of that word. “Everybody has problems and it seems that we all handle them the same. We all have our preference of poison. We all have our preference of sin.” He wants people to know that when they face problems and challenges in life, instead of running to sinful pleasures and addictions they should seek comfort in Jesus. “People run to a gallon of ice cream when they go through their hard times. What I’m saying is don’t get lost in that. You can’t be comfortable in that temporary comfort.”
In YP’s verse, he talks about his own poisons of his past.
“I was putting my life on the line always, really for nothing. [I was] sniffing cocaine, drinking, dancing in my grave.”
Stay tuned for part two to hear about the rest of the album.