Hans Nelson: "Rapped Up" in the Wrong Things
By Zsa Zsa Palagyi with Renelle Roberts
The 700 Club
Hans Nelson remembers the temptation that almost destroyed him. “It’s like the enemy presented an apple to me and it looked shiny and delicious on the outside and I just wanted it and when I bit into it, I didn’t realize what I was biting into and I got addicted to it. And the more I bit into it, the more I realized it had blades and worms in it and it was killing me.”
“It” was a hip hop lifestyle, and it took Hans Nelson, a.k.a. Hansoul, on a trip from the top of Billboard Magazine - to a mental hospital - into the depths of a drug addiction. The journey started when Hans was just a boy.
“I was bi-racial. And because my mom was from Sweden and my dad was African American and there was a lot of stress and drama here because of that.”
His parents divorced when he was five, so Hans and his brother lived in Sweden with their mother for a while. But when that didn’t work out, they were sent back to the states to live with their dad.
“I felt rejected,” Hans says. “But pretty much I blocked things out. I really believe a lot of that hurt was kind of what got me into the hip hop culture because hip hop can be like a cult. So you see that unity, that fellowship, it’s like a family feel. It was numbing pain in my heart. It was the pain of my past, you know the rejection stuff, all of that. And it was a longing, I think, a longing for something bigger.”
Hans thought he’d made it when a friend got him in the door at Epic Sony.
“This is the label Michael Jackson’s on. I’m seeing Diana Ross in the elevators at award shows. I’m hanging with Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, you know what I mean? It feels like well, now I’m accepted. Now I’m accepted as an artist. People know my name.”
But that didn’t last. Sony dropped Hans. “We was like man, all this investment, this was our dream, you know, and now they’re dropping us.”
So it was on to his next big thing. “I got kind of a chip on my shoulder. I went and signed with another deal with LOUD RCA but again I got dropped. And the girl I was dating with at the time, she kind of like broke my heart, you now, she was cheating on me with someone or something.”
That crushed Hans and brought all of his issues with rejection to a head. “I felt empty. I had been dealing with depression for a long time, suicidal thoughts, suicide, get in the subway train, get ready to jump in front of it, just crying.”
Hans ended up in a mental hospital. He left after two months, but things only got worse –as he moved to L.A. and started his own hip hop group.
Hans shares his motivation. “I had something to prove. I got really deep into drugs, I got into some really dark circles. I’m talking about spheres of influence where I started seeing things and I really was losing my soul. I changed so much that my step mom looked at my, looked and said to me, when I look in your eyes, it’s like I just see the devil.”
Hans knew about the devil. He knew about god and Jesus, too. But it wasn’t until he hit rock bottom that he reached out for help. He was on a flight from St. Thomas to New York when he broke down.
“I had a flash of everything going on in my life. I said Lord, if you’re real, just heal me but even if you don’t heal me, just take away this depression because I don’t want to live no more. And I was crying for 4 hours straight. It was years of tears, pain, hurt, rejection, frustration, self-inflicted stuff I’d done to myself --through the music, through the drugs, the women. The lifestyle I was living. It was not my family. I cried out to God, man, and God heard me. I got to New York City that night and then I couldn’t articulate it, but it’s like something broke. I knew something was different.
The next day, he went to church. “And they asked did anybody want to give their life to the Lord. I said Lord, I believe in you! And everything changed. I mean when I’m talking about everything, everything changed. From night, from darkness to day.”
Hans left the hip hop scene with its fame and big paychecks. For a season, he took a job as a janitor to get by. He spent time reading the Bible and learned that he could trust God for everything. Hans’ language changed, his focus changed, and today as a husband, a high school teacher and a rapper, his message has changed, too!
“At the end of the day, because there is an end of the day, only what you do for Christ is going to last. You don’t have to give into that. I didn’t know there was another side. If I had known what I know now, I would have done it a long time ago. It’s real. I got peace, I got joy.” Hans concludes, “God gave me a good deal. Yo man, there’s a better way. Jesus is a better way. Jesus saves!”
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