Bloomington Hip-Hop Artist: Attitude Connected To Religion | WGLT

Bloomington Hip-Hop Artist: Attitude Connected To Religion

Jul 19, 2018

Bloomington hip-hop artist Dominique Stevenson said positive messages and uplifting vibes in his music are connected to his religion. He doesn't believe people can achieve happiness, or good, alone.

“You can’t have joy without understanding the love of Christ,” said Stevenson, who performs as V8 Vast Change. He'll open for Sunday Afternoon at Nightshop in downtown Bloomington on Friday, July 20.

"You can't have joy without understanding the love of Christ."

“Joy is what gives you happiness in those down and sorrow times. So I feel that in order to stay uplifted in that manner, you need to understand the love that God has for us,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson remembers free-style rapping with friends for fun. The impetus to become more serious about his music came from an injury playing football for Normal Community West High School during his sophomore year. He was on bed rest for a week.

“And I was laying there trying to stay positive,” said Stevenson. “I remember thinking, ‘This really stinks,’ and God was like, ‘Just write a song.’ So I wrote a song. I liked the way it made me feel and got some emotions out.”

He then performed the song for what he remembers to be his brother and sister.

“And I said, ‘I like the way this feels.’ So I just kept going,” said Stevenson, adding he likes to be in front of crowds. When he saw a friend rapping regularly at church, the bug turned into reality.

“So when I started writing, I kept saying, ‘Oh I can’t wait to get on stage,'" said Stevenson. “So I watch other people perform and see their energy and I’m like, ‘I can do that. I can definitely do that.’”

And you can say la la la la and I’m diggin’ it/

They want to know why I’m different/ 

I’m on a mission to get it and spread out the truth/

And I can never just watch and sit back/

While these people be lying to their youth/

They don’t tell you what you can be/

They don’t tell you what you can do/

And mama said do it. Do it

- from “I Can Do It” by V8 Vast Change

"'They' is anybody speaking negatively about your life or your circumstances,” said Stevenson. “A lot of people make it about specific color, race … religion. It’s not any of that for me. It’s about anybody telling you what you can and can’t be that does not have your best interest in mind.”

He noted that some in the “black community” have made life mistakes and pass that off to younger people as something “they can’t do because they are afraid of that failure.” His music counters that with a positive, more encouraging message.

“So it doesn’t matter if it’s your uncle, next door neighbor, or police officer, as long as you’re doing something positive, don’t let somebody stop you from going down that path,” said Stevenson.

Mama said keep your head up/

To work hard, get your bread up/

And don’t let nobody speak evil to people that you’re around

- from “I Can Do It” by V8 Vast Change

Sounds like Mom was a source for the uplifting message.

“She was extremely positive in my life,” said Stevenson, who said his mother would remind him and his siblings that they could accomplish anything, as long as they applied themselves.

He remembers one example of a time when the family would clean houses and businesses for wealthier people in Bloomington-Normal.

“She used to tell us, ‘Look around, work hard and you can have this at some point in your life. You don’t have to stay at this level. You can make it to the point where you have enough money to hire someone to clean for you if you choose to do that.’ Things like that really motivated me.”

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