For audiophiles who know their music, there is quite a scene growing out of Chicago, Illinois. A one-of-a-kind, true-blue sound that will consume earholes sooner than later — all stemming from America’s Second City. From Jelly Roll Morton to Earl Hines, the culture of Chicago has bred superstars and innovators who have all had one common thread: God.
Many of music’s greatest voices have been disciples of gospel who’ve gone on to secular success. Not too many attempt to embrace the spiritual and the sinner in equal measure, but again, not too many are like this week’s First Look Friday subject, Sir the Baptist. Sir — born Sir William James Stokes — a native of Bronzeville, a historic Chicago neighborhood to a pastoral father, has a talented well of predecessors rooted in his bloodstream.
Sam Cooke, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Muddy Waters all migrated to Bronzeville during the early-to-mid 1900s. With controversial, yet conversational lyrics and songs such as “Creflo (Almighty) Dollar” and “Raise Hell,” Sir attempts to bridge the gap between his preacher’s kid background and his current status as a budding R&B star. Proven to be on a mission to reveal the deeply embedded hypocrisies that fuel the artist and enrich the musical sound, Stokes proudly adorns his halo amongst the seediest environments without adhering to any specific dogma.
With appearances on fellow Chicagoans tracks like Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment (“Familiar”) — Sir the Baptist has given listeners nothing that sounds alike, which might be confusing if you’re looking for some DJ Mustard-esque tracks. Sir the Baptist offers some complex, multifaceted songs that might be rooted in a classic style, yet has a contemporary vibe that is unlike anything you’ll hear on the radio. In light of all that has been said above, we’re proud to introduce Sir the Baptist to the Okayplayer audience. Sit back, relax, and witness the real as this Chicago singer-songwriter talks about his artistic narrative, what elements will be better than a gimmick and explains why he’s the sinner’s advocate.
is the managing editor of Okayplayer. His top three MCs are: 1) Andre 3000, 2) Scarface, and 3) Black Thought. Debate him on Twitter @KevitoClark.