It’s “talls for smalls” night at Caves Lounge, and Krum, perhaps in defiance of the idea that he’s a Christian rapper, is sipping on an IPA poured into a towering glass. This is not to say that all Christians don’t drink beer, but it’s also not say that all rappers who are Christians are “Christian rappers.” And though his rap career indeed started with that faith-based designation, Krum has reinvented himself as an artist on his own terms.
Though he lives in Arlington now, Krum grew up in the panhandle town of Border, rhyming in a teenage Christian rap crew called S2 before moving to Dallas after high school. While getting an audio/video degree from the Art Institute of Dallas, he was signed to Christian music label Tooth & Nail. Almost instantly, he was a teenager with a record deal, playing shows all over the country and in Europe. But back home, on breaks from touring, he’d realize that nobody really knew who he was. He took a break from the road and went deep into the Dallas battle rap circuit, though he got burnt out on what he describes as basically “telling ‘yo momma’ jokes that rhyme.”
The Christian music scene wore him out, too.
“I just thought that in order to do what I needed to do, I had to be on a Christian label,” he said. “And then, a year and a half into that deal, and you’re touring and seeing the real world and you’re not a teenager anymore … I was like, ‘This is not me.’ ”
Krum also started to see the label in terms of its commercial purpose.
“Any music genre that’s labeled ‘Christian’ … at the end of the day, it’s a business,” he said. “And if you offend this person or that person, then you’re directly losing money. And that’s why it’s so wack.”
Though Krum still reps his faith, he isn’t shoving it in people’s faces.
“I’m a real dude, and I don’t want to paint this holier-than-thou, preachin’, comin’ down at people” picture, he said. “I’ve got all my own vices, just like everybody does.”
Last year, he solidified his departure from his Tooth & Nail past with Bareknuckle Gospel, what he thinks of as a “collab album” with producer Rob Viktum. But it wasn’t until Blue Eyed Devil, the solo album he released in February, that he felt like he was finally on his own. But even that new one, he said, is a stepping-stone of sorts.
“Basically, the Blue Eyed Devil album I put out was stuff I was working on while working on this current album,” he said. “I do most of the production myself. I work on a lot of jams, and some of them don’t make the cut … so the stuff on Blue Eyed Devil is the stuff I didn’t think was a good fit for” Bareknuckle Gospel.
When he’s not working on the new record, he woodsheds his live show, which includes DJ Sean P and a drummer named Mikey Brew.
“The live show is a big deal for us,” Krum said. “We started adding video to the mix. … It’s better, but I can’t just take every show anymore … which is insane because shows are my bread and butter. I do way less local shows, but I think I’m taking the right ones.”
Though Krum has worked hard to move beyond the confines of Christian music, he says his faith remains the most important thing in his life. He drops some names of MCs he’s into –– Milo, Oddissee, Your Old Droog –– who he says are “ill with the pen.” Krum said he appreciates lyrics that ask you to think about the world, though for him, it’s experience that drives the challenges to his beliefs.
“I wouldn’t say listening to people makes me question my faith,” he said. “I think living life does … but I think it’s healthy to question what you believe.”
And after all, questioning is what’s led him to find himself as an artist.
“There’s gotta be room to question things,” he said. “That’s how you learn. That’s what’s awesome about God. I think God wants to have a relationship with you. It’s not just, ‘Here’s the do’s and don’ts.’ It’s like, ‘Man, I’m gonna figure this out.’ ”
9pm Fri, Sep 15, w/Grieves and Dem Atlas at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St, Dallas. $15.