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Sir The Baptist

The breakout Chicago rapper shoulders a complex relationship with the religious world.

Growing up as a pastor’s kid in Chicago, William James Stokes, known by his stage name Sir the Baptist, witnessed both the beautiful and the dark sides of organized religion.

Sir attended a Christian grammar school and a Catholic high school. He loved gospel music and dreamed of making music like producer Rodney Jerkins, another pastor’s kid who blended church sounds into hip-hop and R&B music.

But Sir was also frustrated with his church’s silence after his siblings were abused and molested by members. He watched greed and politics get in the way of churches really loving people.

“I felt like I was in this wilderness and needed to say something that was really needed,” he says.

Sir quit his job at an ad agency to make music and spent the next year homeless, living and recording music in his car.

Through it all, Sir found his own brand of spirituality and a unique sound. His debut album, The Preacher’s Kid, draws from the gospel and R&B of his childhood while speaking to big social issues and offering biting critiques of religion.

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Sir sees himself as a prophet of sorts, trying to “free people from the chains of religion” and point to something bigger than himself. And he’s not afraid to go deep.
During a recent Lollapalooza performance, he rolled onto stage in a coffin to perform “Wake Up,” his song about Chicago violence and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Why We’re Fans:
Faith in hip-hop is having a cultural moment right now. But Sir the Baptist isn’t just hopping on the bandwagon. He stresses that gospel-infused music has to have meaningful lyrics to match the sound.

For Fans Of:
Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Shoffy

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