Rapper is on a mission

Published 9:07 am Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Community Editor

“That’s my aim, to spread Jesus’ name, through rap, the world needs a change,” Seed Da’ Messenger, also known as Robert Freeman, raps over a heavy percussion beat on “Praise.”
According to Freeman, that stanza sums up his mission as a gospel rapper.
Through his rap persona, Seed Da’ Messenger, Freeman has been spreading the word of the Lord to disenfranchised youth throughout Norfolk, Va., for almost three years, playing concerts at churches and giving spiritual speeches. Now that he’s landed in Washington, he wants to continue his service to God through rapping.
Freeman has been working on an LP called “Holiness for God since moving to Washington two months ago. Freeman said he’s hoping to record it with a group of gospel rappers in the Greenville area. To back the LP, Freeman plans to do some summer shows around eastern North Carolina and Virginia.
Freeman continues trying to find his footing in Washington since coming from the rap hotbed of Hampton Roads, Va., where big-time producer Timbaland, and rap’s “queen bee,” Missy Elliot, got their starts.
The region also is home to a budding gospel-rap scene. Gospel-rap mainstay Vanzetti, aka Archie Boone Jr., served as Freeman’s mentor while the young rapper was trying to get his start. Before meeting the minister-turned-gospel-rapper, Freeman said he didn’t take rapping and writing too seriously.
“He started to encourage me — I took it to another level,” Freeman said. “I started to understand the difference between performing and ministering.
And that’s what he’s trying to do now: preach to the youth, not just perform for them.
Growing up on the streets of Norfolk, Freeman said he didn’t have any such role models. His single mother worked late, leaving him in charge of two younger brothers and a sister.
“I had to babysit,” he said. “I didn’t have time to be a child.”
When he got to be a teenager, Freeman said he turned loose.
“I wanted to go out and have fun,” he said. “I started mingling with the wrong crowd.”
Turning to a life on the streets, he started smoking marijuana and selling crack. After Freeman got kicked out of high school, hustling became a full-time job.
“Selling drugs and working, the money was good,” he said.
Freeman said he was lost and conflicted. Freeman said he knew he belonged in the hands of God, but he couldn’t stray from the life he had made.
“I used to go to church with crack in my pocket,” he said. “I grew up in church, but didn’t know who God was.”
All it took was one letter, one sign, for him to turn his life around, Freeman said. After a stint in jail and some extended time on probation, Freeman received a letter that told him that he is a child of God. The message struck a chord.
“I found out why I was meant to be here,” he said. “I started reading literature, the Bible. I started over from scratch, even quit my job.”
That message was the seed that became the flower that blossomed into Freeman’s rap career — Seed Da’ Messenger. Listeners may find his message, that every living person is God’s child, in songs like “Sorry Lord,” “Praise,” “Which God U Serve” and “I’m Tired.”
Freeman’s first EP was titled “Change.” He recorded the tracks using a computer program called SONAR 4. At first, Freeman had trouble grasping the program, but thanks to his faith in God, he took to it.
“I prayed one night, woke up in the middle of the night and started recording,” he said. “I just went on my own infinite knowledge.”
Freeman said he moved to Washington to be closer to his family. He lives with his father, and he has a number of relatives in the county. He attends Davenport’s Temple Church of God in Christ.
“These are my roots, I was just born and raised in Virginia,” he said.
More information about Seed Da’ Messenger may be found on myspace, Yahoo! and BlackPlanet, keyword “Seed Da’ Messenger.” Anyone interested in booking Seed Da’ Messenger in concert may contact Robert Freeman at 757-235-8848.