If New York City is known as the birthplace of hip hop, then Philadelphia has to be known for its infectious soul music. The Delfonics, The Stylistics, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Hall and Oates, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes featuring Teddy Pendergrass are some of the artists that have given Philadelphia its rich soul music history. Of course being only 95 miles away from New York City, Philadelphia has its own notable hip hop history. So just imagine the boom bap of New York City hip hop fusing with the soul rich sounds of Philadelphia!
As of recent, it is unquestionable that Philadelphia has become the hotbed of Christian Hip Hop and one of its native sons has quickly gained recognition due to his unique blend of soul samples, melodies and that classic east coast boom bap. I remember the first time I heard the remix to Young Josh’s “Gotta Move”. That track took me back to the sound reminiscent of the golden era of hip hop (circa 1993-1998). A classic drumbeat, a soulful melodic sample, and just the right amount of scratching had me on a quest to figure out who created such a rhythmic concoction. Then I got blitzed with the “I GOT IT FOR FREE Remix” EP by E-PISTLE featuring the standout track, “HIS-HOP remix” with the now well known signature phrase “Teddy P on the beats!” This one called Teddy P captured my ear and I was going to make it a point to follow his work.
After three trips to Philadelphia, I finally had the pleasure of meeting Teddy P, though I must admit the course of events didn’t allow us to build as I would’ve liked. Enter e-mail and text messages. The joy of technology! Over the course of our communication, it has become evident where his passions lie and how he wants to use his life for the glory of Christ. I certainly appreciate his contribution to the kingdom and I thought it would be good for others to get an inside scoop on the one they call Teddy P.
UR: First of all, thank you for being willing to share a bit of your life. Getting started, tell us a little bit about yourself outside of music.
TP: Yes sir, and thanks for this opportunity, famo! My name is Harry Wesley Pendleton, Jr. I have been married for four years to my wife Leticia, and we have a beautiful daughter, Taylor, who recently turned 3. Currently, I attend Faith & Love Center, pastored by my father, Harry W. Pendleton, Sr., and serve as the organist/pianist. I used to drum for 13 years, but those days are long gone!
UR: At what point did you become a follower of Jesus Christ?
TP: One day in 2006, I was on the computer checking e-mail and all of a sudden an overwhelming sense of conviction came over me. I immediately saw my sin SO CLEARLY. I went to the floor and cried out to the Father for forgiveness, repented, truly believed Christ was my savior, and haven’t looked back since!
UR: Prior to that, was there anyone in your life sharing the gospel with you or urging you to consider eternal matters?
TP: No. I spent most of my life in church, not a follower of Christ.
UR: What do you love most about being a husband? Being a father? Your wife? Your child?
TP: The best part about being a husband is having a godly wife! She certainly is my backbone, and has my back 100% of the time, which has truly been a blessing! She is my best friend, and I praise God for our union. Being a father and husband has had an awesome affect on my life naturally and spiritually. In seeing that I am truly the head of my house, I strive to put God first in everything that I do, and He has certainly blessed us beyond what we could’ve ever imagined, both in the natural and spiritual.
UR: What is the most challenging about all of these roles?
TP: The most challenging issue is staying consistent at all times. Usually in times of uncertainty in my family life, it’s a total reflection of my own walk with the Lord. If I am shaky, it ultimately affects my family as well.
UR: When the waters get a bit rough in the Pendleton home, what course of action do you normally take?
TP: MUCH MUCH prayer! However, it actually takes a bit to get me rattled, but there are times when I feel like a failure or I feel like I’m not doing enough. But through prayer and getting in the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit gives us so much comfort man.
UR: Describe your journey to producing.
TP: Well, like I touched on briefly earlier, I have always had an instrument in my hand for as long as I can remember. At 4, I could handle a tambourine like the best of them. LOL! At 5, my mother signed me up for piano lessons, which I hated! I couldn’t stand the piano then, not understanding God’s sovereign will to see me where I am today. In the meantime, I learned to play the keys, trumpet, drums and bass guitar. When I was 22, I came across a program that came with my Mac computer: a little program called Garage Band. That started the bug to start producing and I haven’t looked back since. At that age I wasn’t saved, so my focus was on secular placement which, praise God, never worked out.
UR: You have a very identifiable sound. Who were/are some of your musical influences?
TP: My journey in hip-hop didn’t start until I was 19 years old. We weren’t allowed to listen to “devilment” in my parents’ house growing up. LOL! When I started college, I was out of the house 24/7, and my homey from school put me on to Mos Def’s “Black on Both Sides”. I was hooked immediately! Since I went to school for graphic design, we all had computers at our desks and I would log online to see who was associated with Mos Def. I learned about Talib Kweli, Common and the Roots, who I was actually pretty familiar with living in Philly. I remember one day I walked to Tower Records and spent roughly $100 on “conscious” hip-hop. Because I was 19, and had my own mind at that age, I wasn’t persuaded by what was on TV. I felt like these guys were intellectually stimulating and were actually saying something. This style has influenced me tremendously, which I’m sure you can hear in my music. Also, gospel music from the early 60’s to the 80’s has a direct influence on the soul in my music.
UR: What is your perspective on the progress and hindrance of CHH?
TP: Great question. On the progressive side of things, CHH has grown in leaps and bounds directly attributed to people getter better at their crafts from all perspectives, including production, stylistically, and more importantly in their ability to inform folks about things concerning the faith. The surge of reformed theology (Yes, I said it! LOL!!) among the youth of today, and them seeing the importance of expressing the truth through Scripture in rhyme form has been amazing to watch. It has forced listeners to pick up their Bibles, various commentaries and books to dig deeper into the vast knowledge in Scripture that may not always be attainable on the surface. Expository lessons through rhyme, like what Lampmode Records does, instead of everything being topical has truly blessed many fans and supporters.
On the flip side, things have slowly but surely started to become expensive for many. As we all know, we are in a recession, and many folks have cut back on spending. I think CHH has been affected by this, and maybe some reform on how we can get this message out should take place. I think the recession in a way could be an eye opener to remind us of our first focus, and that is for the gospel be spread without any hindrances.
UR: What led to the formation of 317 Media and its financial philosophy?
TP: Well, I have been blessed to have various talents from the Lord. I figured it would be great to use those talents to hi-lite Christ through the various mediums we offer. Music is what I focus on primarily, but through school I was introduced to video and graphic design, so I try to use those mediums as well. 317 is actually going through somewhat of an evolution. I’m starting to reshape it as a ministry outlet than an actual company. I have to be honest and say initially 317 Media was not necessarily a ministry. Yes, we used our talents to promote Christ, but the focus on serving wasn’t as strong as it’s becoming. I have been convinced that this is where 317 Media is headed. Serving others through giving so the Gospel of Christ may be spread is my heart. After Word & Deed drops, my desire is everything done through media will be done on a donation principle. Our aim is that Lord led giving would be done, not out of necessity, but that we can keep pressing forward.
UR: This might seem controversial to some, but what positive effects do you see resulting from your decision?
TP: Man, the gospel going out is my main goal! And through this, I would love to see the light of Christ shine through. Human thinking would look at what I’m doing and say it’s not too bright, because financially I might be taking a setback. But I trust God wholeheartedly that whatever we receive will be what He wanted us to receive. My faith is in God’s will being done, not the comfort of my flesh. The great thing is though, that I have been at more peace going this route than before, so I’m truly blessed.
UR: Amen! So describe your process in making a beat.
TP: It varies. Most of the time, I have a melody first, then the drums follow. Sometimes the drums come first, then the melody follows. Music is a great gift from the LORD!
UR: Your latest project is titled Word & Deed. What inspired that and the diverse selection of artists such as Wonder Brown, Eddie Nigma, Ackdavis & Braille?
TP: 317 Media’s (soon to be Ministries “wink wink”) mission is stated in Colossians 3:16-17.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Verse 17 is literally what I live by; worshiping God in everything I do. This message seemed more clear to me after I injured myself about 3 months ago. During the first 3 weeks I couldn’t do anything but sit in the bed, watch TV, read my Bible, or pray. It was during that time I began to understand more and more why I have the gifts and talents that were given to me freely from the LORD. I began to see my purpose, which should every Christian’s purpose, and that is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I see this as a chance to give back to God what was first given to me, but also to give to the very people who need music that glorifies our heavenly Father. I wasn’t going to let anything hinder that message getting out to anyone who might be interested. So I set out to do a project including people I know and respect whose main goal is to see the gospel spread. I worked with some artists on this project, who at times don’t fall in the typical “CHH” category, whose love for Christ may have been questioned in the past. However, I know they have a heart for God’s people, and in turn I wanted to provide them an opportunity to use their gifts. They all have blessed me in this process, and I hope that they in turn can be a blessing to others as well.
UR: So…..what are you reading right now?
TP: Right now I am reading Thabiti M. Anyabwile’s, What is a Healthy Church Member? It’s an awesome book, with great insights on healthy discipleship and leadership among believers. I am also doing a study on the Gospel of John, which has been SO RICH! I literally began a few days ago and I’m still stuck in the first 18 verses! I love this gospel account, especially considering the fact that John helps us to see the deity of Christ very very clearly.
UR: Tell me something in Anyabwile’s book that has made an impression on you.
TP: I really appreciate his points on being an expositional listener. Over the years topical preaching has replaced expository sermons, which I think has played a part in the numerical size of many churches. Churches that emphasize expository preaching don’t seem to have the numbers like churches that have a topical emphasis. I mean, I do enjoy topical preaching when it’s done expositionally. However, Pastor Anyabwile states that expository listening creates a hunger for God and His Word, and I agree!
UR: The Prince of Preachers, C.H. Spurgeon once said, “If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs to be repented of, and his conversion is fiction.” What do you think about that?
TP: WOW! Very true and to the point! One thing that seems to be clearer now than ever before is the Word is very straightforward. No bells, no whistles, no autotune (LOL! Had to say it!), just straight to the point. Many times we seem to lose that perspective and try to make God’s agenda match our agenda and desires that are contrary to His mandates. Salvation is a miracle and we cannot tread lightly concerning God’s standards. So if there’s no fruit in our lives, we need to wonder about ourselves and truly repent.
UR: P, it was great choppin’ it up with you, fam! Again, thank you for letting us in your world!
TP: Ay bruuvm, it’s always a pleasure to get up with you. Keep persevering! Grace and Peace!
Word & Deed drops Tuesday, July 28, 2009 and can be purchased for $1 as a digital download or $7 as a physical cd at 317 Media.
“Reality Rap” featuring Young Josh
“Ride” featuring Phien-X Zekerayah
Grace & Peace,