As we live our lives and explore ourselves we become aware of our gifts and talents. We find them hidden deep in our interests. Many people try to extinguish that fire or ignore it in an attempt to live a life that they are expected to live by others. But, when we embrace that inner voice pulling us further into ourselves with our expressions, then we become our own miracle. We then walk tall feeling fulfilled and joyful by the things that we do and the art that we make our lives to be.
Lorenzo Hamlin had a rough start early on, but fortunately, kept listening to that inner voice and it took him to a wonderful place where he expresses himself lyrically and vocally to spread positivity to others.
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You say that you had a troubled childhood and you managed to stay out of trouble and on the up and up. What was it that led you to make the choice to be that way?
Well as a child growing up I changed schools a few times and changed households as well. I was the middle child and of course it always felt that way, lol. Kids growing up love attention and when they don’t receive a certain amount of it, it can affect them mentally. So as a child growing up I always felt distance from my brothers and sisters regardless how much I loved them. I guess it’s a kid’s thing when you’re growing up.
Why do you think that others who take the wrong roads take them? Any thoughts about that?
I think it all comes from being a child growing up with parents that are not responsible. To me a lot of parents are not good role models. So many of them don’t guide their child with the word of God. Children need the word of God more to help the to defeat the negative thoughts that bother them on a daily basis. Parents need to be more into God and to be more spiritual role models. We have to remember that what grown ups do can rub off on their kids.
You “showcased your talents on the streets.” Do you mean the streets literally?
In my day they used to have street battles. Whether it would be after school on the weekends, etc, a lot of battles where on the streets. You got props, meaning street credit, by battle other people to see how good you were. There were a lot of street battles when I was growing up. There are still street battles going on to this day. I was in several and I won some and loss some. Battle rapping against other rappers on the street made me learn a lot. It also helped me improve my talent. So I can say the way I rap today was from long training in my earlier years of battle rapping. Now I only battle Satan, evil and myself, lol.
What would you do, just jump out into performance in various places, or was there some kind of structure in what you did?
I actually spent more time in the studio and rarely did talent shows. I went to a couple of open mics. Rapping was something I wasn’t trying to take that far at first. It wasn’t until I got older, I would say around 18, 19 or 20. I got a lot of good feed back from my talent. Many people were saying I should take it more serious. I also had a brother who rapped too – my older brother Fred Hamlin. He motivated me to take rapping seriously. We both started planning to blow up and try to get in the music industry.
Why did you do this?
I took things more serious, because I felt myself being able to do more with my talent. After rapping for so long, I started to feel I could make it in the industry regardless of how difficult it is for up and coming artists. Writing music most of the time was easy, when I was growing up. I had a lot of emotions about things and writing became therapeutic.
What were you seeking to make happen?
I was making moves to get noticed based on the feedback I received. I had more inspiration and motivation from my brother. I felt it was time to take my talent to another level. I watched rappers on tv, and I felt I could do what they do. I was inspired by them to become great at what I was doing. So after a while it was all about getting on tv and letting the world, family and friends know I made it. It became a challenge because not everybody could make it in the music business. I was determined to prove all that doubted me wrong.
What kind of things did happen?
As I became more focused on getting into the industry, my connections started growing. I was getting business cards and more studio time deals. I started meeting others who were trying, to go the same path I was. That helped, because they taught me certain things to do and what not to do. My knowledge of the music business changed. The way I thought about it was becoming different. I started learning more about the downfalls and the corrupted ways that come with it. I was actually in the process of growing more artistically and maturing in my craft.
You were called not just to poetry and rhyme, but to use those things as a way to help others. How did this come about?
I was doing drugs one day. I was smoking marijuana and I felt a feeling I never felt before. I literally felt like I was going to die. My breathing felt like it was coming to a halt. I can’t tell whether it was good drugs or some one put some extra stuff in it. I felt like my life was about to be taken away from me at any moment. I got on my knees and I prayed to God. I prayed about how sorry I was and that I would stop doing drugs and I needed His help. After getting off my knees, the Spirit had me call my aunt. She’s a women of God and she’s always in church. She told me to go to that night service with my cousin who was going alone. I went and the service was great. The best part is when the pastor asked, if any one in the crowd was ready to give his life to God. I got up and walked towards him. He prayed for a minute and his hand touched my head. I fell back and was held by one of the ushers. I felt God’s energy come in me and knock me out for a couple of seconds. This was something I never felt before. After the service was over the pastor talked to me. He was asking what was I trying to do with my life. I told him I wanted to do music and he asked me what kind of music I do. I told him hardcore hip hop. The pastor spoke and said now that you’ve been saved, you know God wants to change the way you make music. He told me it’s time to start rapping for the kingdom of God. I said I never done that before, it will be hard for me. The pastor spoke and said, just remember anything is possible with God. He told me to pray on it that night I went to bed. That night I prayed on it. I guess the next couple of days I was trying it and just floating around. Then one day I finally made my first full Christian song. That song I created was titled Jesus. After that song I was filled much more with the spirit of making plenty more. When I finished writing that song, I felt the changes taking place and knew what I wanted to do. Rap for the kingdom of God was my new journey. I started having a strong urge to write music that can motivate, encourage, inspire and save others.
What kind of work do you do to support yourself and does it help you artistically? Why or why not?
I produce beats, write my own songs, edit my own videos, and mix and master my own tracks. On the side I still work to make money. I have a regular nine-to-five like everyone else. This helps me to keep money in my pocket and to buy any equipment, flyers, business cards, physical cds, etc,. Working on the side helps me more artistically, because it allows me to set my own music schedule. I’m independent, so I make music when I want. I’m free to do what comes naturally to me more easily.
Just how popular is Christian rap? Does it have a large audience?
Christian rap is popular and it’s becoming even more so. People are becoming aware of its presence in the industry. Some people in the industry are not ready for it. There are also people behind the scenes that don’t want it to take place. God’s word will not come back void. His word is going global and more people are being affected than we know. Christian rap will continue to grow because of God’s force and anger with evil.
How do you describe yourself – not just artistically, but in life?
I’m out going, just not like other out going people. I’d rather spend more time home relaxed. I love working in the studio creating and planning. I’m a cartoon watcher, I love laughing and enjoying myself in a positive way. I don’t smoke and can sometimes be a social drinker. I can honestly say, that has also been minimized. I don’t feel any different, from everyone else; if there is a difference it may be me pushing myself harder for change and inspiring the same in others.
You go by the name “Universal Disciple.” How did you choose that title?
I had several rap names. Ruckus, hood assinator, secret black ninja, the purpose, the list goes on. The last name I used was The Purpose. I used that name as I was making positive music. Googling and looking for the name in the search engines, I noticed it was being used a lot. I didn’t want a name that was used so much by different people. I knew I had to make a choice to create a name that stood out and was original. Thinking of me being a follower of Jesus Christ, calling myself a disciple meant a lot to me. My goal was to be a disciple leading people to Christ. Searching that name, I also realized it was used a lot. I decided to add another name next to it. Street disciple came first, which was something I heard from an artist named Nasir Jones. I still didn’t want it to feel like some one gave it to me. That’s when the voice came and said “universal.” I new it was a voice in my head from above, cause as soon as the thought came, I smiled and was totally inspired and motivated to use it.
What are your artistic goals for the future and how do you plan to make them happen?
My ultimate goal is to be spread worldwide. I want to be known in all states. Another goal is to become a legend in my own right. I plan to focus on reaching 10 cd’s. When I reach ten cd’s my goal then will be to try to add another 5 to the list. Staying in the studio, as well as sharpening my craft is how I’m going to make that possible. I have to be ready for hard work and mentally I’m training myself for that everyday. Reading often which helps the mind, will play a major part in my evolution as I expand.
What kind of obstacles do you face and what is your plan to get around them?
I face plenty of obstacles. As an independent artist, you don’t have the financial backing on your side. It’s not that easy to get on major radio stations. I feel in order to get around these hurdles, I need to focus on a strong foundation and stability. I feel when you start from the bottom and work your way up, it’s the best way. There are no skipping steps, take things step by step. So my goal is to start small and grow from there. Make realistic goals about what I’m doing. To get further I will definitely have to expand my connection in my network. I will have to utilize the help of any services or people that can help me expand more with what I’m doing. No one can do it alone, we do need to look for any available help. You must think always, it can be done. Regardless of the obstacles and hardship, it can be done.
You state: “his journey is still beginning and it’s far from over until he reaches his destination, and that’s to the top of the ladder.” What specifically does that mean?
The top of the ladder to me means, reaching a milestone. A milestone not every positive rapper or Christian rapper has reached. I feel everyday to be determined to work on my creativity. I’m determined to go farther each day I’m blessed to wake up. A milestone is a level to me that people don’t think I can reach. It could mean finally getting on tv or a major radio station, even releasing my tenth album. Making a hit record, that goes viral to even winning a grammy. These are different milestones to me that I would love to reach. Those milestones would make me feel like I’m at the top of the ladder.
Your project “War” – talk about it. What inspired it, and talk about the creation of the video and what it took to get that done.
War is a video, I wanted to create to help bring about change. Change starts with one person. If each of us can decide to help save the world, we can make global change happen. Regardless of the big people behind the scenes, it all involves us making a choice when it all comes down to it. War is killing so many people and it’s not helping increase the peace in the world. We have too much violence being promoted on the media. The new generation is eating this up. Younger kids are carrying guns now more then ever. Think about it, why are there more kids carrying guns now? The war video is about the street wars in the hoods as well as countries fighting other countries. They say it is necessary and making people believe it so people can easily fall into it. War is here because Satan is here. We are in the last days and we are fighting against invincible spirits. We weren’t born with killing in our heads.
We were taught to kill as we got older through media and music. Cartoons promote violence as well and kids are watching them. That’s what’s damaging them spiritually. As for the creation of the video, it was shot with a green screen. I like to animate my video that I direct. I look to try my best to captivate those who are watching them. So I had many ideas to add to the video. Using different effects and transitions, I was able to create something interesting for people to watch.
How many projects have you completed at this point and time?
I actually completed 7 mixtape cd’s. At the moment I’m trying to finish working on my dvd. This dvd consist of 21 videos, all directed and edited by me. I look forward to releasing an album eventually. The album has been on pause because of my independence. As an independent artist starting from the basement and doing a lot on my own, I haven’t reached the masses like I want to yet. I also was looking forward to signing to a label and releasing my first album then. A label, whether independent or major, right now can help me expand much more. That will make dropping an album more meaningful. So for now I just look forward to making singles and mixtapes to continue building a stronger buzz. A buzz I would say is one of the major things that’s important to an artist whether he’s independent or on a label.
If you have no listeners, then know one is hearing what you’re doing. My goal is to expand my listeners and create a domino effect. If you can affect 1 person, that person can affect someone else and so forth.
Is there anything that you’d like to add in closing?
There’s greatness in us all. We all can be legends in our own right. We are all made the same way, by one God. He has put perfection is us all. Our true test is to continue to dig deep every day for this. We must keep tapping into the full potential that God has given us. When we tap into this potential it will allow us to do great things. These things are gifts from God, and we must share them with others. We have to awaken others to these hidden powers and treasures within them. Mankind needs a full awakening to realize his true potential. His power is beyond this materialistic world. As long as he focuses on the material plane, he will never be able to do amazing things with his spirit. It is taking action to keep going within and finding your true power and strength in God. Most think it’s a secret, but it’s only a secret to those that don’t seek it. Each one of has the power to change the world. First we change ourselves and that’s what makes changing the world easier. Never give up on yourself – you can do anything. You can push through any barrier. It is being able to keep going in the face of adversity that makes us all legends, leaders and heroes.