Steven 'Lyrycyst' Cooper: A Life Changed
By Mia Evans-Saracual
The 700 Club
Rap music has a rising star: Lyrycyst. But his lyrics go against the grain of modern-day hip-hop.
“You can still have a blast. You can make fun music. You can pour out your heart and still have a positive uplifting message rather than degrading people and tearing them down. That's what I'm on a mission to do.”
His brand of alternative rap tackles heavy issues such as poverty and depression. He speaks from experience. His real name is Steven Cooper. He was born into poverty and raised by a teenage mother who struggled to get by.
He says, “Her boyfriend at the time who was my father decided he wanted no part with this, ran off and left her alone. She had no family support.”
When his mom did marry, she fell for an abusive alcoholic.
“I remember one night in particular, he came home drunk,” Steven says. “My mom was trying to get him out of the house. That's actually the night he sent my mom to the hospital, broke two of her ribs, broke her nose and we were right there watching it happen trying to pull him off, jumping on his back. Six years into it, you get used to that being your life -- even if you hate it.”
Then Steven’s life changed overnight. His mom packed up the kids and escaped with her life. Steven and his little brothers were swept into a life on the run.
“I did get a sense of danger and my mom was carrying something very heavy,” he recalls. “I remember when we did escape though. It felt like we were doing the right thing.”
The family lived in their car and safe houses before finally moving in with relatives. To help pay the bills, his mom took up exotic dancing for a few years.
“A lot of people would immediately have guilt and shame over their parents doing that for a living, but for me at first, it was like ‘Yay!’ All the sudden, my mom was buying me new stuff, and money wasn't an issue anymore.”
But as a teenager Steven had other issues, including anger and bouts of depression.
“I just lived with a lot of fear and a lot of shame of what I had already been through.”
Adding to the stress at home was his mother’s $2,000-a-week cocaine habit. When Steven switched to a new school, things became even more stressful.
“When I would go to school, I would be very shy, very sheltered, very reserved and kept to myself. I wasn’t accepted at all,” he says. “Kids were making fun of me and throwing me into the lockers, all the typical cheesy stuff. But then it escalated to kids were following me home wanting to steal my clothes, you know, threatening me. So I just wanted out and I struggled with suicide for all through my high school years.”
Music became his personal escape. He found out he had a gift for writing and performing rap lyrics.
“Eventually I got up the guts to start taking those to school, and kids started reading them and started nicknaming me the ‘Lyrycyst’. It was all kind of fun and games. But it was for me, the first time having acceptance and so I dove right in.”
The name stuck. He cut a 20-dollar demo, and his music caught on. Steven wanted the lavish lifestyle he often saw in rap music videos, but while on tour, he got a reality check.
“I would watch some of my favorite celebrities at the time come off stage, and I couldn't get my head around it! I couldn't get my head around why they would still act like I would. They would still be depressed, lonely. They'd be mad at the world. I'm like, ‘Wow, you are what kids are dreaming of being one day and what I'm dreaming of being one day.’ It made me really question, ‘Is this really the right thing to pursue? Is all this fame and money and all that really gonna change anything?’”
Steven found the answer while on a road trip, visiting one of his buddies.
“I thought we were gonna go party the whole week, and so I went down to his house. We hung out and that’s when he invited me to church. I was just like, ‘This is so weird,’ but it was the curiosity that got me. By the end of that sermon, even though I didn't understand all of it, I felt God got a hold of my heart and started dealing with me. By the end of that day, I decided I wanted to give this Christian thing a shot, wanted to see what it was all about.”
Steven decided to live for God. He moved in with his friend and started going to church.
“I lived in a different town for a year, and it was the escape I needed to get away from everything that was back home. During that time I grew spiritually as a person. I dealt with a lot of issues that I was harboring. I became a new person during that time. I was really praying for my mom, because the big thing for me was seeing her get away from her drug addiction. She was still an addict at that point. I was getting baptized at the same church I got saved at. I invited my parents to come. My mom was married again to my new stepdad, and he’s awesome person. Both of them came and dedicated their lives to Jesus. She never touched drugs again. God took away the craving. Her prayer was for God to just take it away, and she never went to rehab, never went through withdrawals. She was completely delivered.”
God restored Steven’s entire family.
“Before you knew it, every single one of my family members had come to know Jesus through just seeing the change in my own life. It was a domino effect. A lot of it was this newfound life, this newfound hope and joy. They were all things they saw immediately and couldn’t ignore.”
He wanted his music to express the hope he found in God’s love.
“God spoke to me and was like, ‘You don’t have to give up what you love to do. You can use it for a different reason. You can use it to spread hope, spread love and tell people exactly what happened in your life.’ I believe God wants to transform us from the inside out, so everything people see is something good, and it doesn’t mean that you are going to be perfect.”
Steven and his wife now devote their lives to sharing the gospel. They often go on tour together. She performs as a backup dancer, while he takes center stage, sharing the light of Jesus Christ.
“I want them to know that I'm a real guy,” he says. “I want them to know that I've been there. I've struggled with a lot of stuff maybe they've been going through. It can be overcome, and you can let Jesus lead the way in every circumstance in life.”
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