The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Normally this space is a semi-tongue-in-cheek back-and-forth with a rapper about some aspect of the rapper lifestyle. However, last Sunday, Christian rapper Juan "Enock" James passed away from what appears to be a heart attack. We reached out to Much Luvv label honcho Tre9, with whom Enock lived prior to getting married, to talk about it. This Week's Rapper: Tre9 This Week's Subject(s): The sudden death of fellow Christian rapper, Juan "Enock" James. Ask A Rapper: So we had the news passed on to us recently about Enock. That's terrible. Do you mind speaking to the details of that situation? Tre9: He had a heart attack on the job and, the memorial was [yesterday] and we're having a benefit concert for him [today]. He was only 35. He's leaving behind a four-year-old daughter, Jana, and his wife, Natalie. AAR: Geez. That's awful. Were there any previous medical conditions? T: He had high blood pressure, he was taking pills for high blood pressure. But there wasn't anything else that I know of. He was only 35; nobody saw this coming. It was a shock to everyone. AAR: Is his family pretty heavy into church too? T: He was always more the stronger spiritually-based one, but his wife has said that he helped her a lot to take that in and to take on some of the insecurities that she felt in her life. AAR: Man. So you all are having a benefit concert for him. What are the details there? How can people get involved? How can they help out? T9: Yeah. We're having a benefit concert to raise money for his family. We started the "Hip-Hop for Hope" on Tuesday about 18 weeks ago in Fifth Ward. J. Prince opened the doors for us and allowed to [perform at the Prince Complex]. It's a free concert. The artists that are performing are going to pay to perform and during the show we're going to take a love offering. All of the proceeds will go to his family. We've taken some money in through Much Luvv and that's going to his family as well. Up until the end of the year, 100 percent of the proceeds from his record sales are going to his family. The concert is going to be pretty light on the theological side. We want to get people out there and involved. We have dancers getting crunk, doing krumping or krump dancing. Some rappers come out there and perform and tell their stories. We looking to get the youth involved. A lot of that kind of thing is geared towards the older. We want to get younger people involved. We want everyone to come out, support, and if someone happens to get saved... well, that'd be a nice icing on the cake for Enock. Sketch the Journalist, documentarian and friend of Enock, also passed along his thoughts on this situation:
"I was really shocked to hear about Juan's passing, particularly of a heart attack at such a young age. Physically, the dude was massive. I've heard his former Cross Movement group members nicknamed him Cell Block Nock, and he always seemed to be fit and healthy to me. But underneath the bulk and booming voice was a gentle giant with an open heart who proved to be one of the most transparent MCs I've ever heard. "His AWEthentic album laid his issues and temptations before the masses and gave him a platform to both vent and unveil the masks many of us wear within the church. Unfortunately, some of lyrics seem almost prophetic today. "The music of his later years really captured the spiritual struggle I believe all humans face: To try and live righteously in response to God's grace despite our weaknesses and frailties as imperfect beings. He brought a nice balance to the Christian rap genre that can often place an over-reliance on Scriptural teaching and not enough on personal relationships and learning how to apply our faith to everyday life. "When he first came to Houston, I was like any one else; a fan of Enock the MC. I'm thankful though, that later I got to know him as just Juan. I got to know his family, saw how he had a desire to help set others free from the sexual sins that caused him so many problems, and dialogued with him about our frustrations with the traditional church. "Though I'll miss his presence here on Earth, I know he's now living in the presence of the Almighty God and that as a believer in Jesus Christ, I'll eventually see him once again."
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The benefit concert is 7:30-9:30 p.m. tonight at the Prince Complex (3000 Jensen). Attend if you can, and give even if you can't. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Enock's family.