- Photo Provided
- Chris “The God MC” Cain
If hip-hop is a religion, few practice it as devoutly as Chris “The God MC” Cain. It’s more than the congregational services led by an emcee and DJ at a venue. It’s more than the teachings laid to wax, passed down from generation to generation. It’s arguably even more than the artistic elements of the culture itself. That’s because, as a religion, hip-hop is a way of life, and The God MC lives it every day.
A born-and-raised classic of Oklahoma City’s storied Eastside, Cain has been spitting his provocative mind since the days of selling CDs in the streets, yet in 2021, followers say he’s hitting his best stride yet. With the release of a new studio album, Arrived, and as a member of Fire in Little Africa, the acclaimed Oklahoma hip-hop collective recently signed to Motown Records, the rapper has had a banner year. The streak continues with an upcoming live performance on Sept. 25 called “Arrived: Now That I’m Here” with none other than Grammy-nominated Roc Nation enigma Jay Electronica.
“Me co-headlining a show with Jay Electronica is God letting me know that it’s time,” said Cain. “Jay Electronica is immortal, like myself. Our music is not trendy, and it will never die. Create un- deniable heartfelt art, and it will be a force that’ll find its place with the uni- verse’s assistance.”
If The God MC’s words sound lofty, they are just a taste of the power that bursts from his intensely authentic verses. With a tough-love cadence, he speaks on deep life values through the lenses of family, divinity, and hip-hop culture, crafting verbal punches that challenge the mind and distill the spirit. As he doesn’t squander his talents on material possessions or clout-chasing, it follows that he wouldn’t dabble in the aesthetics or style of artists who do.
Where much present-day hip-hop music boasts autotuned triplet flows and hyped-up trap production, Cain continues to favor organic, unhurried instrumentals with minimal beats that allow his voice to be omnipresent. Here, it’s the lack of technological dependency that serves as a litmus test to his abilities, not unlike an unplugged rock performance, but the approach carries further by doubling down on his no-filter lyrics with a literal lack of filter. The God MC is as real as they come.
“I want my Eastside people as well as all my people in every hood in America to know that you can be dope as fuck and be a father, husband, hold your/our women on the highest pedestal, speak unity, self-love, and have the realest raps in the world without fake opps and gunplay,” Cain said.
On the new full-length album, which follows a slew of standalone EPs, Chris “The God MC” Cain continues to perfect a delicate balance of paternal sensitivity and razor-sharp Eastside lyricism. He is accompanied by solid features from fellow
Oklahoma artists like Grand National, Steph Simon, Chris Savage, and Ray June, but it’s his solo tracks that tend to speak loudest.
The centerpiece of Arrived for many listeners is “Ode to Love”, a percussion-less, keyboard-adorned track that uniquely captures the internal battle of a father wanting to protect his daughter and needing to let her experience the world. The way Cain expresses his devotion through a cautionary refrain is shocking at first, but as it repeats, it takes on a plethora of emotions between the lines of the verses’ timelapse framework. In the context of the album, which features a real audio recording of Cain’s daughter as a preschooler in the opening track, it hits an especially poignant note. An entire essay could be written about how its central four words carry so much meaning.
Cain is a father figure in less literal ways, too. While he has made a point to feature his family on his album covers and promotional materials, he also made sure to include some neighborhood youth on the photo cover for Arrived. This is because, in addition to his long-time presence in Oklahoma City hip-hop as a culture builder, he also mentors youth in his area in other ways, some of whom are featured on the album art.
“I mentor kids that I teach basketball in my neighborhood and my old school, Millwood,” Cain said. “I teach them basketball and life lessons; I have hands-on experience in both. I’ve been in pressure situations with the game on the line, and I’ve had a gun in my face with my life on the line.”
It’s noteworthy, then, that The God MC’s upcoming date with Jay Electronica is slated for the newly renovated 89th Street, one of the city’s only all-ages venues for local hip-hop.
“I think any concert venue should be all ages with a full bar because people wanna have a good time,” Cain said, “and as far as my community, I wanna talk to the kids and parents at the same time. I love my people.”
89th Street is also ideal for its sense of history, as it has taken on multiple lives under different names. One of these was The Conservatory, where Cain honed much of his live chops years ago. The return to the same building adds further weight to this recurring theme of arrival.
Reaching a destination, however, does not presume it’s a final one. For The God MC, hip-hop is not music to be made but culture to be lived, so the present is not a plateau, but the latest milestone in a lifelong journey into his destiny.
“My album is called Arrived,” Cain said, “because I’m 90 percent here as a man, husband, father, son, friend, and— last but not least—an overall artist. I say ‘90 percent’ because I will grow as long as I’m living. I will evolve on Earth as long as the sun revolves around it.”
Arrived: Now That I’m Here Jay Electronica + Chris “The God MC” Cain
7 p.m. Sept 25
89th Street, 8911 N. Western Ave. $40