Jered Sanders is at it again. The prolific Virginia emcee has added another strong offering to his impressive catalog with the album Nobody Famous. Jered recently sat down with attorney, university professor, and contributing writer Timothy Welbeck to discuss his recent album and its motivation, writing rhymes between work and daddy-duty, why he’s nobody famous (even though more people find out who he is everyday), and much more. What follows is the better part of their conversation.
Timothy: Has Poota approved of Nobody Famous? I’m not sure I’ve seen too many videos circulating of her dancing to the album. [Author’s Note: “Poota” is the nickname Jered affectionately calls his daughter. In times past, he has played videos of her dancing to his music on social media]
Jered: Haha. Yeah man, Poota loves it! Actually the other day she was saying “Grind!” from GESW. She’s a tough critic, but when she rocks, she lets you know pretty quickly.
That song is dope. She should like it. It’s one of my favorites from the album. All jokes aside, from all I can tell, the album has received rave reviews. How has it felt to know the music resonated with some many people? I read on Facebook that you made the album for you, so you were happy regardless of the public’s reaction. Is it comforting to know others wanted to hear what you wanted to hear too?
The feeling’s indescribable, bro. It’s dope to see it’s been connecting with an audience. The notion that people would even pay attention to what I have to say is still surreal to me. I change diapers, take out the trash, and brown turkey meat in my spare time, fam. I ain’t nobody “famous”… (pun intended)
Indeed. Talk to me about the irony of you receiving such acclaim and increased visibility for an album entitled Nobody Famous?
Well, “Nobody Famous” is really just a mindset. It keeps me focused on remaining humble despite the evolving and growing list of successes in my life. I’m just “dada” to Poota. I change diapers on a day to day. The fact that some people see me as a semi-celebrity is laughable, but humbling at the same time.
That makes sense. In many ways, you have done the transition backwards. Many Christian hip-hop artists begin toiling in obscurity making music for Christian circles, all the while vying for attention from mainstream outlets. You have garnered attention from major labels, and been featured on large mainstream platforms before your switch in content. Talk to me about that process. Does it feel more rewarding for you to receive some of the attention you are receiving considering you are unabashed in your communication of your faith.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s MORE rewarding, but it definitely gives me confirmation that the still, small voice on the inside wasn’t just me overthinking. I really just made the transition so I would stop being an overt hypocrite. I can’t be out here preaching to the lost, ministering to youth, and talking about knocking down the next IG model or cursing all over the place. Every new eye that stops in and checks on what I’ve been up to is more confirmation that God was spot on. I’m thankful for hearing Him and being obedient, bro.
So you’re just an obedient nobody famous. Talk to me about the process of creating the album.
I was honestly just trying to stay active and keep writing. I wanted to keep the proverbial blade sharp. I had no real intention to put out an album. My initial goal was just to release a new record each month from about April on. As I started that process, I just got flooded with inspiration, man. Before I knew it, I was working on two albums at the same time. The NF records were a portion of that influx of inspiration.
Dope. When did you know the album was ready? When was it ready to give the album to the people?
I just think that at a certain point it felt like a complete message. I didn’t feel I could say anymore in the context of the project. I wrapped up the sessions and gave it a few weeks to sit. When I no longer felt the need to add to it, I knew it was ready.
Speaking of albums, I have told you this privately, but it bears repeating publicly, few people meld being profound and prolific. You have struck that balance. In the past three years, you have released Sorry for the Delay, Daylight Savings Time, Hope Hop, Black Friday EP, and Nobody Famous. In addition to that, you have at least two more albums in the works. How do you manage to make so much music?
It’s gonna sound cliche but…God. It’s certainly not under my own power. I just think life gives me something to say, and God gives me a unique way to speak on what I see.
That’s how it should be. With that said, why now? Why release Nobody Famous at this juncture? What does it offer hip-hop generally, and Christian hip-hop more specifically? What messages do you want to leave with your listeners?
I just think it was relevant and necessary. I’m charged to be a light, and in these seemingly dark times, I decided to stand up and be accounted for. For Hip-Hop, it represents social commentary from a meek man’s perspective. For Christian Hip-Hop, I think it shows how grace can help with apologetics in a semi-agnostic world. The church has just as many opportunities for growth as the world does. The primary message I want to leave with listeners is that we’re all trying to figure this life-thing out, and I’m no better than anybody.
Where does this album fit in your catalog? What does it mean for your legacy?
It’s easily my most personal release. As far as my legacy…ehh, I’m unsure. I just hope people hear the growth and vulnerability.
Makes sense. Do you really hate the process of recording?
Yes. I love the writing, mixing, performance phases, but the record part is too tedious. I’m a pretty type B personality in all other areas of life. I become pretty type A during the recording process.
That amazes me considering you record so much.
Yeah. Add it to the list of world wonders, man. Haha.
Indeed. Speaking of recording so much, you are continuing a trend of demonstrating that “the South got something to say.” In many ways, you are part of the continuation of, Little Brother Cunninglynguists, et al, and fall along similar lines of artists like J. Cole, Rapsody, Nick Grant, et al. How has being a southern shaped your craft?
It definitely has had an effect. Oddly enough though, where I live in VA (geographically speaking), it could be considered Southern, but it’s about an hour from DC, so I got a hodgepodge of culture. From DC’s “Gogo” sound, to NY’s Boom Bap, to Cali’s West Coast P-Funk, to Philly Soul and ATL’s crunk wave, I’ve been heavily influenced by a lot of regions. I’m also originally from and attended college in FL (FAMU), so I got a lot of the music that moved through there as well. I’m a pretty ecletic hybrid, fam.
It does make sense. The DMV has a rich culture of music. Now you are the youth pastor of your church. Tell me about how that came about? Are you still serving your church in that capacity?
After my daughter was born, me and the wife decided to step down from sheparding the youth to focus on family and each other. I’m still an active minister in the church, however. I work with youth, young adults, the praise team, the men’s ministry, and I’m a licensed minister through the church as well. So I’m basically a jack of all trades.
That was wise. I had to make a similar decision when my son was born. In addition to lyricism and insightful rhymes, you have penchant for honesty and vulnerability in your music. For example, you mentioned your wife’s bout with post partum depression on your last album. Why are you so open in your music?
It’s liberating to be able to speak with transparency. I want people to hear my mistakes and possibly grow and learn from them. I’m here to help however I can and I’ve found that exposing our vulnerabilities, in essence, disarms people enough to share their own vulnerabilities. Hope is pretty dope, man.
Indeed. Thus, much of the shift in your content stems from your growth as a man. Was there a singular event that accelerated your growth, or was it more of a gradual?
Nah. I’d say everything I experienced up to this point molded me into the man I am today. I’d say it was always a gradual process. I’ve never measured life in the giant events. It trivializes the maturation process. It compartmentalizes the “little things”. I’ve come to learn that transformation in life tends to happen in the subtleties we observe and adopt as opposed to the milestones.
In a time when purists in Christian hip-hop are clamoring for artists to make music and not run from the title of Christian hip-hop, you have embraced it openly. Not to belabor an old topic, but why is that so important to you.
It isn’t. I’m just not afraid of the designation. I don’t feel the need to qualify myself at all. God made me an identity that supercedes societal/cultural designations and I’m finally mature enough to accept it. There was a time earlier in my career where I struggled to accept myself, but I’ve found my identity in Christ over the years. It makes the setbacks easier to digest and I become more grateful when successes come.
For those yet to her Nobody Famous, why should they invest in this album?
Because I come from and appreciate Hip-Hop music. I respect the craft and am always working on the skills it takes to be considered great. I’m a bit of the old and the new school. I give it to you how I see it without shouting from the soapbox. I talk about politics, culture, current events, and God from a dad’s perspective. Like, the cool dad. The one that surprises his kids with fast food during their lunch time, but he can also outrap their favorite rapper. If that sounds like an interesting enough mission statement, check me out. $10 ain’t THAT steep, is it? I’ll give you the ten bucks back if you think it’s trash. Sound like a deal?
You can get a copy of Nobody Famous by visiting here.
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