By Joanna Delalande

Propaganda, the making of a rap artist

Jason Petty shares his rap story and the essence of his identity

Jason on stage

"One day my mother was like, 'Okay, what if all your friends decided you had another eye growing out of your cheek and they all made fun of you for that. Would that hurt your feelings?" Jason recalls.

He replied saying, "No, because I don't have another eye coming out of my cheek!"

"Exactly," his mom replied, "They only call you what you allow them to call you. What you accept as true about yourself even though deep down you know it's not.'"

A Spanish-speaking black man in the suburbs; a rapper, dancer and graffiti artist; a self-confessed poetry fanatic, Jason Petty (a.k.a. Propaganda) never fit in anywhere.

"My story is a fish out of water story," he says in a video testimony for I Am Second.

"I grew up in an all-Mexican, super violent neighborhood. I didn't even know it was as dangerous as it was.

Propaganda raps: G.O.S.P.E.L

It’s the full story of life crushed into 4 minutes
The entirety of humanity in the palm of your hand
Crushed into one sentence, listen, it's intense right?
God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.
The greatest story ever told, that’s hardly ever told
God. Yes. God. The maker and giver of life
And by life I mean any and all matter and substance
Seen and unseen, what can and can't be touched
Thoughts, image, emotions, love, atoms and oceans. God.
All of it his handy work, one of which his masterpiece
Made so uniquely that angels looked curiously
The one thing in creation that was made with his imagery
The concept so cold, It’s the reason I stay bold,
How God breathed in the man and he became a living soul
Formed with the intent of being infinitely, intimately fond
Creator and creation held in eternal bond
And it was placed in perfect paradise til something went wrong
A species got deceived and started lusting for his job
An odd list of complaints, as if the system ain’t working
And used that same breath he graciously gave us to curse him
And that sin seed spread though our soul’s genome
And by nature of your nature, your species
You participated in the mutiny. Our. Yes. Our sins.
Its nature inherited, black in the human heart. It was over before it started
Deceived from day one and lead away by our own lusts
There’s not a religion in the world
That doesn’t agree that something’s wrong with us
The question is what is it? And how do we fix it?
Are we eternally separated from a God that may or may not have existed?
But that’s another subject. Let’s keep grinding
Besides, trying to prove God is like defending a lion
It don’t need your help, just unlock the cage
Let’s move on. How our debt can be paid
Short and sweet: The problem is Sin. Yes. Sin.
It’s a cancer. An asthma. Choking out our life force
Forcing separation from a perfect and holy God
And the only way to get back is to get back to perfection
But silly us, trying to pass the course of life without referring to a syllabus
This is us. Keep up your good deeds. Chant, pray, meditate
But all of that of course is spraying cologne on a corpse
Or you could choose to ignore it as if something don’t stink
It’s like stepping in dog poop and refusing to wipe your shoe
But all of that ends with how good is good enough?
Take your silly list of good deeds and line them up against perfection
Good luck. That’s life past your pay grade
The cost of your soul, you ain’t gotta big enough piggy bank!
But you could give it a shot. But I suggest you throw away the list
Cause even your good acts are an extension of your selfishness
But here’s where it gets interesting, I hope you’re closely listening
Please don’t get it twisted, it’s what makes our faith unique
Here’s what God says is part A of the gospel
You can’t fix yourself, quit trying it’s impossible
Sin brings death. Give God his breath back, you owe him
Eternally separated and the only way to fix it is someone die in your place
And that someone’s gotta be perfect, Or the payment ain’t permanent
So if and when you find the perfect person
Get him or her to willing trade their perfection for your sin and death in
Clearly since the only one that can meet God’s criteria is God
God sent himself as Jesus to pay the cost for us
His righteousness, His death, functions as payment. Yes. Payment.
Wrote a check with his life but at the resurrection we all cheered
Cause that means the check cleared
Pierced feet, pierced hands, blood stained Son of Man
Fullness, forgiveness, free passage into the promise land
That same breath God breathed into us God gave up to redeem us
And anyone and everyone, and by everyone, I mean everyone
Who puts their faith and trust in Him and Him alone
Can stand in full confidence of God’s forgiveness
And here’s what the promise is
That you are guaranteed full access to return to perfect unity
By simply believing in Christ and Christ alone
You are receiving Life. Yes. Life.
This is the Gospel: God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.

See Propaganda rap this message on Youtube

"I was the one black kid, teased because of my color."

Jason Petty

When he speaks, Jason is essentially rapping. Even when he is not making rhymes – there is an evenness and rhythm to his voice that makes it sound like it is crying out for a backing track.

"Later when we moved to the suburbs it was a primarily Caucasian neighborhood," he continues.

"And now we were the poor kids that just moved in, these weird black people who spoke Spanish, and they just didn't get us."

He explains that being an outsider eventually became the norm for him.

He was made fun of for his differences – as if he had an eye growing out of his cheek.

"I was born the wrong color, in the wrong neighborhood, in the wrong decade, to the wrong parents..."

He says he was the butt of a lot of subliminal racist jokes. Mocked for his background, he tried to find his value and identity elsewhere.

Yet there was one thing he knew he was — an artist.

"I began to lean into that during my teenage years and I discovered freestyle; being able to jump in a circle and dance battle. I found myself liking myself again; enjoying the fact that now I wasn't just the black dude. I was the talented one. It was safer for me.

"I kind of cruised through high school having my identity in my skill set."

And at the time Jason was attending his local church but that only seemed to make him stand out even more from the hip hop scene he most identified with.

“I was this tagger, slash rapper, son of a black panther”"In my mind it went back to the same way I grew up; I've been the 'only' my whole life. So if I'm going to be the only here, I'll be the only there."

But he felt called by God in such a strong way he never stopped going to church.

He says he felt like "God was splitting the roof open and speaking directly to me."

He raps in his video testimony as he says:
I was this tagger, slash rapper, son of a black panther [a 1970s pro-violence civil rights gang],
And they got high hopes for him: he's gonna be a pastor.
So should he run with the church boys, the backpackers, [or] the thugs?
And it's funny, it seemed like the Lord's answer was: all of the above!

The revelation that he was actually perfectly fine exactly the way he was, came to him after his father pointed out a passage to him in Psalm 139 verse 14: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

"I realized my value was not determined by some particular innate quality that I had.

Jason Petty

"No," he says, speaking to all of us now, "Your value is because God was willing to pay the cost of His son for you.

"Everything you are, your whole goulash of experiences and gifts is included in this action. All the scars. Every hurt, every failure, being spit on walking home; all this, it's on purpose. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You're exactly what He wants you to be."

He says his life has been a proclamation of the truth that his neighborhood didn't make him. The Creator of the Universe did.

Jason Petty did become a pastor. A youth pastor. He also led a poetry team called Selah, and helped his sister's dance ministry called "Live." And in 2013, he partnered with I Am Second in hosting a poetry contest, Spoken Word Challenge.

"Christ has given me personhood," he says with a tone of genuine gratefulness.

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