The former running back for the Bulldogs, who on the field used to turn up the heat, is now spitting rhymes over spiritual beats.
Rodney Reynolds ’10, an African American studies major who has launched his musical career in holy hip-hop at Yale, will be performing this summer in his first tour, “Sweet Music to My Fears,” which will include performances by JProphet (Reynolds’ stage name) and fellow rapper Antoine Dolberry. The two will tour in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
“I’m taking a step out on faith, because I’m starting to think this is absurd myself,” Reynolds said. “But I’m trying to be obedient to what I feel like I’m being called to do.”
Reynolds has been involved with music since the age of 14, when he began rapping and writing songs for leisure. He began working on pieces for his album last summer, developed a website, and has released an album and two mix tapes while at Yale, including his most recent work, “The Fullness Thereof” which was released on March 27.
Reynolds said he was inspired by Psalm 24:1, which reads, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” adding that he believes all beats and instruments can be used to glorify God.
He is currently busy planning his upcoming northeast tour, securing performance spaces at churches and community organizations, booking shows and working on promotion.
His manager Davida McGhee ’10 said that despite all her help, Reynolds never stops trying to get it right on his own.
“As a true artist, J Prophet is always refining his craft,” McGhee said. “He’s constantly writing, recording, finding new beats — you name it. There’s no rest for the weary in the music industry, so there isn’t a day that goes by without discussion of how to improve and where to go from there.”
But creating the lyrics for a song takes a large amount of time, Reynolds said.
“I don’t really sleep much anymore because I stay up later now to either do work or write and record music,” Reynolds said. “Still, recording while being a full-time student has also made me a more efficient musician I think.”
Hayling Price, a friend he grew up with in church and his first producer, said though he believes in his friend, Reynolds’ challenge will be to rise beyond being simply another holy hop artist in today’s world.
“Though the market for this particular art certainly exists, religion is always stigmatized, making stereotypical success much more difficult to attain,” said Jarren Simmons, another of Reynolds’ producers.
Getting visibility and funding are a large part of the difficulties that face the budding rapper, he added.
Though Reynolds is still an unsigned artist, he said topping the Billboard charts is the least of his concerns. Reynolds said he does it all to preach one central message: to let go and spread God’s word.
His tour will run from June 11 to July 30.
Correction: April 20, 2010
An earlier version of this article misattributed the quote, “Though the market for this particular art certainly exists, religion is always stigmatized, making stereotypical success much more difficult to attain.” The quote should have been attributed to Jarren Simmons, another of Reynolds’ producers, not to Hayley Price.