PITTSBURGH, PA – December 30, 2016… Christian Ministry and Battle Rap. These are two worlds that to many would seem far apart, however, to Zach Deaton, (aka Zach Is Nobody) these two worlds represent his vocation, calling, and passion. He has been successfully able to combine these two worlds over the last two years, first by rising to the main stage of the concept rap league SLAP Battles (aka Showing Love Applying Pressure). From there, he branched out into the secular world of battle rap by competing twice in No Coast Battles.
Zach Is Nobody battled Cincinnati rapper Pry The Greatest in St. Louis this past fall. The footage from this battle recently dropped and can be seen here:
In addition to continuing to pastor and compete in both the concept and secular arenas, Zach Is Nobody will join friend and fellow Battle Rapper 3PFD in launching a new concept rap battle league in 2017. When asked about the new partnership, 3PFD stated, “I’m excited to work with Zach in our new concept battle league/ministry in 2017 and beyond. He’s a great rapper and friend that brings a lot to the table, and I’m excited for what is next for us.”
We wanted you to hear more about this unique artist and his new opportunities, so we asked Zach a few questions.
So, how does a Pastor become a fan of battle rap?
Well, actually a fan of battle rap became a pastor. I’ve been a fan of battle rap since before 8 Mile even came out. I had heard of Eminem’s Rap Olympic stuff & found it online. I was watching Freestyle Fridays when Jin won back in the day, so I’ve been a fan for a long time. I later ended up getting into ministry just trying to follow God’s leading & call for my life.
Many people would say that the content of battle rap (guns, violence, sexual immorality, etc…) are not compatible with the teaching and practices of Christianity? How do you balance both areas?
I would say it’s perfectly compatible. The fact that stuff comes up is a perfect opportunity to share the gospel. One of the great things about battle rap is it’s usually unfiltered. No political correctness for the most part, so you know what people believe & how they feel about things. That’s a far better starting point than in most circumstances. How often do non-believers in this modern American culture just go to church? Why are people going to wake up early on a day off to go sit & listen to someone speak they disagree with? We have to get outside of the church walls & go meet the people where they’re at. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Great Commission Jesus gave us starts by saying, “Go.” We are to be in the world & not of the world.
I think another thing many Christians get twisted is not understanding battling to begin with. They may ask, “How can a Christian diss somebody to the glory of God?” Pretty easily actually. I have definite things that I won’t say in a battle. I don’t want to say anything that won’t glorify God. Dissing somebody in a battle is different than doing it while walking down the street. Two people mutually agree to compete with words for a given time (usually 3 rounds), & then it’s over. Also you can call a friend an idiot when he trips and falls, but if you laugh at someone with a disability who falls it’s different. People seem to forget context. One of those is a joke between friends, & one of those is just being mean. Also Christians don’t get outraged at Stephen Curry for scoring points on other teams, so why get mad at a battler for scoring a dope punch line? People need to understand it’s a competition (a non-athletic sport if you will… kind of like golf… shots fired). You have guys like Street Hymns that really don’t even diss their opponents. He just straight up ministers to them & shares the truth of Jesus Christ. Then you have guys like A. Ward that battle in the more traditional since, but still share Christ. Both ways are beneficial & pleasing to God. You can glorify God by writing amazing bars. God is the Creator. Creativity glorifies God (as long as it’s not sin). I could go on & on about this, but it boils down to not saying anything that would displease God & using it as ministry (which we should to with every opportunity & resource).
I don’t think there’s much a balancing act to do with ministry & battling. I think they can be one & the same. Just follow the Holy Spirit’s leading for what to say. I don’t even think you should balance your content and “bars.” You should go 100% with both. They can work together.
How did you get into battle rap as a performer?
I had wanted to do it for the longest, but didn’t know how to get in. I saw battles on YouTube from time to time, but didn’t realize there were leagues until around 2011 maybe. None of the leagues were really close to me, at least that I knew about, so it wasn’t until I saw that 3PFD was helping start a new league that I got into it. I messaged him asking how I could try out or get a spot, & the rest is history.
Did you only want to battle in the concept, ministry focused battles at first, or did you always want to battle in a traditional rap battle?
Well, I didn’t even know those existed (& they didn’t) when I first wanted to get into battling, so no. I always wanted to battle in the traditional since, but after learning about the ministry concept battles I was definitely down to do that as well. I would like to continue to do both styles if the Lord wills it.
What has been your favorite battle to participate in to date?
I don’t know that I can choose a favorite. I think my best performance all the way through was against Cutright in Loyalty vs. Disloyalty, but they’ve all been fun & learning experiences.
Have you had any criticism for being a Pastor that battles? How did you handle that?
Not really. It hasn’t really come up much. I just tell the people I think might be interested in it. I don’t think anyone could have a legitimate argument for not battling. I’ve seen arguments online, but nothing legitimate. Maybe personal reasons for people, but nothing that would apply to everyone across the board,
What are you looking forward to most about the new league that 3PFD is starting?
Well, first & foremost to see how God is going to use it for His glory & to see how it’s going to impact people’s lives. I love dope bars, but reaching people through what you’re saying is even cooler to me. I do my best to do both at the same time. Also looking forward to new opportunities to battle & put out more content for people.
What’s next for Zach Is Nobody?
Currently in talks to battle on No Coast again. Looking forward to working with the new concept rap battle league 3PFD is running & continuing to battle for SLAP Battles too. Hopefully you’ll see me on more battle cards coming up, & maybe some more music at some point.
You can follow Zach Is Nobody here:
Facebook: Zach Is Nobody
YouTube: Zach Is Nobody
To keep up with all the developments on the new concept battle league, subscribe to the 3PFD e-mail list: http://eepurl.com/bVsSoX