HOLY ROAD: Popular hip-hop is as much about image as it is about lyrical quality and substance. In other words, one must look like a reputable rapper — Jordan sneakers paired with Louis Vuitton this and Gucci that — before being considered as a legitimate one.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the dollars struggling and unsigned rappers spend on clothes, sneakers and bottles in clubs should be invested in marketing and studio time. But wisdom doesn’t make head turns like a $200 pair of rare sneakers.
Davyne Dantzler has been down that road before.
“When you out there trying, especially a local artist, to do music, you spend more money trying to look like an artist than being an artist,” he said.
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That’s why he’s gone in another direction.
“What I’m doing right now, I’m making a living off my music,” he said. “On top of that, it’s a feeling like none other.”
In “From the Streets to the Scriptures,” an autobiographical book that discusses his rise, fall, enlightenment and salvation, Davyne reveals how one can reach hip-hop glory.
Davyne, the rapper, promoter and former club owner known by most who have tried to hustle in South Carolina hip-hop, was enlightened after a 2009 auto accident that almost claimed his life. While driving his Suburban South on I-77 on the way home from a DJ gig in Charlotte, Davyne fell asleep.
He truck flipped several times and Davyne, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. His left ear was severed, and he broke his neck, hip and several ribs. The accident caused him to alter his late-night lifestyle and reconsider his career direction. The rapper who had scored a regional hit with “Can’t Hang” several years ago now writes rhymes about God’s glory.
Last year he released “God’s Gift,” a gospel-leaning hip-hop album.
“Gospel people tend to make records for people that go to church,” he told me while recording the album. “I’m trying to make a record for people who don’t go.”
“From the Streets to the Scriptures” has a similar purpose.
“I meet the people where they are and let them know that Jesus cares about them inside the club or not,” Davyne said. “It’s all about where your heart is.”
The book exposes Davyne’s former lifestyle, the hard partying, the women and the interactions with people who are, to use hip-hop slang, “about that life.”
“When I was in the world, I was actually doing a documentary called, ‘South Cak We All We Got.’ The movie was supposed to be about my life.”
Because of the accident, he was unable to finish it. But that led to a revelation.
“I really believe God didn’t let me finish the movie, because I have more to do in life,” Davyne said. “We always talk about the destination, but I feel the journey is as important as the destination. He wanted me to use the same zeal when I was out there in the world, but he wanted me to use it for the Kingdom.
“People got to know about Jesus just like they know about the club.”
Ministering to at-risk youth was also part of Davyne’s revelation, that he could use his music, which sounds like radio-ready hip-hop, to prophet — and profit. He teaches extreme teen ministry on Tuesday nights at River of Life Church in Winnsboro.
“Everything is God’s timing, for one,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all have to master a method of getting people to pay attention. You can’t minister if they’re not listening. You’ve got to have something to get their attention.”
Is life better now that he’s on a different road?
“Life has always been good, but I couldn’t see why it was good,” Davyne said. “I go through the same problems as someone who hates Jesus. Now I know I got some help.”
If you go
“From the Streets to the Scriptures”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Feast of the Lord Church, 290 Broughton St., Orangeburg
Information: (803) 516-8030, www.tfotl.com or facebook.com/davynedantzler