T-Bone: Thug Life Redeemed
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
Award-winning Christian rap artist T-Bone has always been motivated by a desire to bring hope to those who live in the hood.
"My music was and is inspired from where I came from," T-Bone tells The 700 Club.
Drugs and gang life are the norm in San Francisco’s mission district.
"Our icons and our people who we’re looking to are the pimps that got all the money. The drug dealers are the ones with the nice shoes and the jacket and the bling on. A lot of my fears growing up were about getting shot, getting stabbed."
Early on, T-Bone tried to stay away from the gang life. He says, "Music was something that really kept me focused and kept my head straight, because I knew I didn’t want all that life."
That changed when he was a teenager.
"A lot of my friends were involved in the gang life and the drug dealing, and they were trying to pull me in. So I started hanging out with them. Eventually when you’re hanging out with them, when those are your buddies, their enemies become your enemies."
His parents became Christians and shared their faith in Christ with him.
"I didn’t want nothing to do with Him, because I felt He was a God that wanted to strip me of my joy, strip me of my happiness, strip me of my friends, strip me of, you know, this life – what I thought life was about."
But one incident made T-Bone really think about eternity.
"One of my close friends Ralphie getting shot and killed. They did a drive-by shooting. Ralphie got shot once in the chest and once in the back. He was lying in the grass twitching in his own blood.
"What is everyone dying for? Over a stupid color? Over a neighborhood? I can choose to stay in this whole thing, get more involved and get deeper in this thing, or uh I can choose to turn my life around.
"I really began to search for God. Not because my parents told me to search for God, not because other people were telling me, but because I was really searching for God for myself."
Then a guest speaker came to his parents’ church.
"He made a call and said, 'If you want to know who Christ is for yourself, come up the altar.' I went up to the altar, and as soon as I went, man, I began to cry. The presence of God was there. The Holy Spirit hit me, and I said the sinner’s prayer."
After becoming a Christian, T-Bone knew the message of his music would have to change.
"There’s thousands of kids that love God, all over the world, that probably come from this environment or that even maybe don’t come from this environment but they’re young and they want to listen to music that they can relate to.”
So he started writing Christian rap.
"I’ve seen thugs come to the Lord, prostitutes, police officers, soundmen, gang dudes take their gang rags and lay their gun and their colors at the altar. When you see those things, you know God is in it."
As a pioneer of Christian hip-hop, T-Bone won numerous awards. More importantly, he knows that God has not given up on reaching young people.
"God wants them to know, 'It’s okay that you’ve made all these mistakes. I forgive you and I love you and accept you the way you are.'
"I’m just so thankful, because I’m a person that deserves hell. God has allowed me to live through all those things and He spared me for a reason. So my life is His. The reason I exist is Jesus. Like Paul said, 'for to live is Christ, to die is gain.'"
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