I first met ‘Prop’ (real name Jason Petty) about 8 years ago when we were both involved with Dare2Share Ministries in the USA. His zest for life was contagious and his onstage presence was captivating, but behind the ‘performer’ was a smooth, funny, confident Christ-follower that saw fame simply as an opportunity to share Christ with a broken world.
Born in South Central Los Angeles, he grew up as only black kid in a violent neighbourhood. He started rapping at 14. Now having travelled and performed all over the US and overseas ‘the phone keeps ringing’ so we caught up with Jason to see how he manages to keep his eyes on Jesus in the midst of an exciting and growing career with new opportunities and challenges seemingly around every corner
For a lot of people, hearing the word ‘Propaganda’ conjures up images of leaflets being distributed in North Korea – how did you get the name?
“My cousin gave me that name. It was because my first love is visual arts, then you add poetry, hiphop and evangelism… out pops ‘Prop’!”
Tell us about the period when ‘the phone started ringing’?
“I was teaching high school, and doing music on the side. Sort of a weekend warrior. And really just kinda waiting to see what the Lord wanted. I was content in what I was doing but I had that “what if” in the back of my head. I had released two records by then and was trying to book some performances. And then literally one day I got asked to come play a gig in downtown Los Angeles and, for real, I have no idea what happened, but i was booked every weekend for the next 3 months.”
How would you describe your music?
“AMAZING! just kidding. Ummm, it’s hiphop. With a tone of justice and hope sprinkled all throughout.”
For all of us middle aged Kiwi blokes, what’s the difference between rapping, hip-hop and spoken word?
“Hip hop is the overall cultural experience, it is made manifest through its art forms, which are break dancing, street art, Deejaying and of course rap. Rap is just the music that came out of the culture of hip hop. Spokenword, is poetry. As old as GK Chesterton!”
By my reckoning, ‘Crooked’ is your sixth album in fifteen years. How has the Christian music industry changed in that time and how have you seen your music change?
“Man, I’d say the biggest change in Christian industry is proving that rap does sell. When i started, their wasn’t even a rap category for CCM. They wouldn’t play it on any Christian radio stations unless it was a worship song that featured a rap verse. So I’ve just kinda learned to just kinda get along without the help of the industry. But with people like Lecrae. It just changed everything.”
Being a ‘Christian Artist’ must have its challenges when it comes to being authentic. What do you think are the hardest parts of being ‘known’?
“I think it’s the same challenges anyone else faces. We all wanna put a version of ourselves out that is carefully curated via our social media. I’m not exempt. I think the harder part for me is not ever feeling like I’m successful “enough” that when my friends get some wins, it’s one less win I will get.”
Which artists do you look up to and why?
”I admire creative boldness and longevity. So for me I look to super obscure artists and how they are able to carve a lane and a future despite the winds of change.”
Your look and style doesn’t really fit the stereotype of a ‘theologian’ but you seem to love the Bible and understand its importance in the life of a believer. Do you think it’s important for Christians to ditch the stereotypes that have been creeping in to the church over the last few decades?
“Absolutely! The only reason i don’t look like a theologian is because we have accepted that a theologian is a white dude with a long beard. Theology doesn’t have a look!”
We featured Alert312 and the Streetlights Bible App in the first issue of Authentic magazine. Have you done any more stuff with those guys?
“Yup! I’m on their new records.”
You were trained as a teacher and taught high school for 6 years – how does your career compare now to what you thought you’d be doing with your life?
“For real, rap was so far off my radar as a career! I will say this, at the end of the day, I wanted to shape culture. I feel like that has not changed even through the model has.”
You have a wife and two daughters. How has the responsibility of being a husband and a father changed you?
“It’s made me a better writer for sure, and also a better businessman! Like, I’m not just gonna go hang out and rap some songs because it’s cool! No! I got mouths to feed! If you want me to come ya gotta pay me what I’m worth (laughs)! I’m not charging for ministry, because ministry happens via every breath I breathe. I charging for my time away from my family.”
What do you think are the most important lessons you’ve learned about being a father and a husband?
“Most of our problems come from a deep selfishness. And I think we really complicate things. It’s pretty simple… just don’t be a jerk!”
As a dad, what are your biggest concerns for your kids growing up in a society that has sometimes been called ‘post-Christian’?
“Imma carry the faith to my kids the same way it was carried to me. Through Authentic living!”
How hard is it staying Christ-centred in a world that seems so ‘issue driven’?
“I think it’s keeping the main thing the main thing. Just kind of understanding that you’re a part of a bigger story and this is just a very short and small moment in time. I’d say do what God told Abraham to do which is be justice and righteousness in the world.”
What do you think Christian men struggle with the most? (Pride, Lust, Apathy, Materialism?)
“That’s a hard one, because I think all of us are different. But I know for me most of those other things like pride and lust, at their core, come from a feeling of not knowing and understanding your value as a person, as a son of God. I think that ultimately it’s learning to see myself the way the father sees me – that’s the real struggle!”
When men are asked, “How are you?”, most say “busy”. With the ‘busyness’ of your life and travel schedule, how do you find time to read and study God’s Word?
“I try to use the plane as a sanctuary. Because I’m on so many flights I try to download podcasts and sermons and spin that for five hours on the flight.”
Lastly, if you could sit down and read any Christian author or listen to any sermon, who would it be and why?
“St Augustine, for sure! Dude, he’s a G!”
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By Dave Firth
About the author
Dave Firth is the CEO of Authentic Christian Trust.
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