CHRISTIAN RAP ARTIST

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ABOUT 5IVE

Craig James was 3 years old when his father, a crack addict, walked out. He smoked marijuana for the first time at age 10. By the time he was 16, he was fully addicted to cocaine. At 21, he turned to meth. In and out of jail until he was 27, Craig was spiraling out of control at such an alarming rate, one couldn’t help but wonder if he would make it to his 30th birthday. The rapper himself admits he shouldn’t even be here. Yet, thanks to a praying aunt, a faithful grandmother and the grace of God, Craig—now known as 5ive—lives to tell a different story. Growing up in the tiny town of Earth, Texas, Craig moved to Lubbock shortly after high school graduation to attend college. He was enrolled just long enough to earn his grant check, then promptly dropped out and used it to buy drugs. With his drug dependency at an all-time high, he found himself alone at his grandmother’s home, haunted by the voices of addiction. “When I would get on meth, I would begin to literally see things,” 5ive recalls, “and I would pick up the phone and call my Aunt Pat.” His aunt, a pastor at a local church in Earth, had stage IV cancer at the time; however, her love and devotion for her nephew never ceased. “If I got bad, she would get out of bed and drive hours to where I was, just to sit with me, pray with me and tell me how much Jesus loved me,” he remembers. She also encouraged him to read the Bible. So even in his altered state, Craig would often read Scripture or watch sermons on TV in search of some peace. In November 2010, unable to sleep for seven days straight and in search of his next fix, a stoned, drunk and exhausted Craig witnessed his little brother physically fighting another man over a piece of crack. “My heart just broke because I realized that I had done that to him,” 5ive reflects. “When I looked up, it was like everything was in slow motion, and I just heard God say, ‘Go to church.’ I tried to dismiss it, but I heard it again. So, I called my cousin, and I told her, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to get to Earth because I need to go to church.’” His Aunt Pat happened to be preaching that Sunday. “As soon as I walked in, I didn’t go sit down in the pew; I didn’t wait to hear a message. God had already given me a message,” 5ive shares. “I went in that church that day expecting to meet with Jesus because I knew He was the only One that could do anything about my situation. I’d tried everything else.” “I got to the front of the altar,” he continues, “and when my aunt looked at me, the smile on her face was as if God Himself was smiling at me. She said, ‘You’re tired, huh?’ And I said, ‘I’m so tired.’ Immediately when she laid her hands on me every weight of iniquity, every urge to want to do drugs, every urge to drink, every urge to do anything that wasn’t pleasing to God, I felt it all leave. And as plain as you hear me right now, I heard Jesus say, ‘Show the world My grace.” At that moment, 5ive says he was instantly healed of his addiction and any future desire for drugs or alcohol. He immediately called his girlfriend, Tiffany, and told her what had transpired, urging her to join him for a second church service later that day. That’s where they committed their lives to Christ as a couple, and they were married two months later. Craig’s newfound faith gave him an insatiable appetite for the Word of God. After hearing a specific directive from the Lord, he spent the next six months as a new Christian at his grandmother’s house faithfully studying the Bible on his own. All those times, he turned to Scripture in his darkest moments had, inadvertently, laid a foundation of faith in his heart. “I had knowledge in my head of the Word of God that I was reading while the enemy was trying to take me out,” 5ive says. “God was training me even while I was lost.” As if on cue, six months later, a friend and fellow believer brought him a beat, explaining that he felt God prompted him to share it with Craig. With no previous songwriting experience, musical aspirations or formal training, 5ive wrote his first Christian rap song that day; and the rest, as he says, is history. His stage name is symbolic of the biblical number for grace and favor, and his music is a testament to the fact that God is still in the business of working miracles. “If you’ve never witnessed a miracle, you’re looking at one,” 5ive says. “I’m just so thankful to be alive and to be in His service. I’m a little radical, but I tell people all the time, ‘If God did it for me, He'd do it for anybody.’” After seven years of full-time ministry, playing numerous events a year and speaking at churches, 5ive became the first artist to sign to Nashville Label Group’s hip-hop imprint, True Breed, helmed by Seventh Day Slumber frontman Joseph Rojas. His 15-track label debut, Family Business, chronicles his past struggles and his miraculous redemption. Steeped in themes of unity and loving one another, Family Business—5ive’s sixth recording and first for True Breed—puts the spotlight on the Body of Christ with a host of features from the likes of V.Rose, Datin, SPEC, J. Carter, MH Eternal, and Je’kob, among others. Besides, “This I Know” features 5ive’s 13-year-old son, Kyren. Serious selections like “Lead The Way” find 5ive surrendering anew to God’s calling on His life, while lighter tracks like “Ain’t Worried” put a playful, creative spin on daily anxiety. The title track is a nod to Luke 2:49, where a young Jesus tells His parents, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” “Jesus could have done everything He did on His own without a single person, but He picked 12 jacked-up dudes and changed the world,” offers 5ive. “I’ve been grafted into the family. I’ve been adopted, and one thing about an adopted kid is that you know you’re wanted.” With Family Business, he hopes to communicate a similar message: You are wanted. You can change. And you don’t have to do it on your own. It’s the story that changed his own life and one he’s not willing to abridge. “If you’re going to be used by God, you have to tell the whole story. That’s how people are going to get free,” he asserts. “I just believe in keeping Jesus at the center of it all. I don’t believe I have to take His name out or water down the message to be relevant. It’s all about just being true to who I am and who I’m called to be.”

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