“I’m a man of faith, a God-fearing man, a father, and an artist.”
As a teenager, YP aka Young Paul was surrounded by friends who rapped, but he infrequently took part. “I was always getting into trouble, fighting, chilling with girls, smoking, getting drunk… I was part of the army.” He was always the tough guy in the group who would come along if his group had problems with another. Though he enjoyed hip-hop, he thought that pursuing it as a career was unrealistic because of how difficult it is to “make it” as an artist. After he began following Christ at age twenty, he wanted to give up rapping, considering the harmful effects of much of the genre’s messaging.
When YP decided to start rapping as a Christian, he wanted to call himself Fire. At the time, he was being discipled by a friend named Carlos, and the subject of his potential artist name came up regularly. “I was like, ‘Yo, I find it strange that every time I walk around, I walk into somebody that I used to have problems with, and I want to preach the gospel to them, but it’s intense.” YP always found it challenging and awkward to share his faith with people whom he had in the past gotten into fights with or had animosity with.
“Now I’m bumping into them with a new entity, a new aura, with a different spirit, but they would feel like I’m gonna approach them with hostility, with anger, and violence.”
After seeing and hearing about this pattern, Carlos considered the life of Paul, who had persecuted the church before becoming a Christian himself. In the book of Acts, Jesus’ disciples and other followers were scared of him. They hesitated to trust him, even after his life was changed. “He was like, you know what? You should call yourself Young Paul.” YP is short for Young Paul.
On November 29th, YP aka Young Paul released a new album titled Warfare, saying that Christians “are in the midst of a spiritual battle that most people can’t see.” He has felt the warrior mentality in the past, describing himself as one of the first people who would go challenge those who disrespected his group. His warrior mentality remains but now manifests itself very differently.
“If I see my brother going through some things, I want to pray hard in the Spirit, and I want to pray hard for him, plead the blood [of Jesus] over him and rebuke every demonic influence.”
Introducing the album’s concept with the title track, he explains how racism, bigotry, and all hatred are rooted in sin as well as evil spiritual influences. “I know that there is a spirit operating through them, but Jesus still wears the crown, despite what they say and what they believe.”
Warfare’s second song, “War,” features British DJ and producer Francois. YP seeks to recognize each day the aspects of his life in which he has grown as well as those which are in need of improvement. “It’s always a battle of the flesh versus the Spirit.” Believing firmly in the current presence and activity of demonic spirits, he continually invokes God’s assistance in the fight against evil.
“We’ll never walk blameless like Christ did, [but] we’re called blameless, we’re called justified, because of what Christ did.”
Describing himself as a big superhero fan, YP references the character Captain Planet from the 1990s TV show Captain Planet and the Planeteers in his next song. “I watched Captain Planet when I was a kid, but while I was creating this record, Captain Planet was not on my mind.” As he was writing to what would become the song’s beat, he thought about how he seeks to use high quality “out of this world” metaphors and lyrics in his raps; hence the title came about.
In the following song, “Trust Me,” YP shares testimonies of good things that had occurred at times when he placed his full trust in God. Over time, he has learned to apply the words of 2 Corinthians 5:7, which reads (NIV), “For we live by faith, not by sight.” YP says numerous experiences have taught him that God’s way is better than his own.
“I realize that when I do things my way, it’s just messy, complicated, and doesn’t feel sturdy or right, but when I do things God’s way, it feels like the foundation is solid.”
“Spartans” seeks to portray the warrior mentality of living by faith, “understanding that there’s a devil, like a lion looking out for its prey.” YP hopes that listeners will remain vigilant and watchful to fight off any temptation that may come at them. The song not only addresses the strength of faith but seeks to break down the negative perception of Christian hip-hop. “A lot of dudes, especially [those] who come from my background, [if] they hear Christian rap, they probably think it’s some cheesy, corny,” music, he explained.
YP believes that the best way to strengthen yourself for the daily spiritual battle is a devotion to prayer and scripture.
“At the end of the day, the truth is what sets us free, so in the midst of situations, I know what has helped me fight was remembering the truth, remembering specific scriptures for those specific situations.”
Warfare continues with “Love Is Life,” seeking to encourage listeners to keep themselves uplifted by living in love, a message he believes the world needs to hear a lot more than it currently does. “So many people say ‘life sucks’ and ‘love equals pain.’ You’ll never hear records like ‘life is love, love is life.'” Referencing Jesus saying in John 14:6 that he is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and 1 John 4:16, which reads “God is love,” YP hopes people will invite love into their lives and share it with others.
The second-to-last song on the album is titled “No Words” and features S.O.S. “Obviously, you’re going to hear a bunch of words when you press play, and that’s exactly why I wanted to call it no words.” YP hopes that the title will catch the listener’s eye and that the lyrics will show them how valuable his faith is to him.
“Even though I feel like I’m mad imperfect and the worst representation of who Christ is because I’m so flawed as a human, I get it all the time that people feel, ‘We know that you belong to God.'”
Warfare concludes with “Light the Room,” with YP saying, “I’m painting a picture for you, and it’s going to glow. These rhymes are going to shine in the midst of this dark [music] industry.” His hope is that the impact of his words will go far beyond Christian hip-hop artists and listeners, permeating the mainstream, changing people’s lives for God’s sake. The hook provides a prayer for people of all backgrounds who are not living in accord with God, saying, “I pray to God for these criminal minds that they would feel the love that is divine. It’s the love that they will feel from God that will set them free.”
Outside of music, YP enjoys working out at the gym, watching movies, and spending time with his family, saying, “I love them and make them a priority in my life.”