(Interview) Jerrel Pilarta on Rap Music and Doctrines of Grace

When you hear the word “rap”, what comes to your mind? Probably you’ll think about popular rappers like Francis M. or Gloc 9. You might also think of the message of their songs that you hear on the radio like nationalism, peace and unity.

But do you know there is a Christian artist who raps about the gospel? In fact, he raps about the Doctrines of Grace or Calvinism in his latest EP. I connected with Jerrel Pilarta, an indie gospel rap artist and we talk about Calvinism, rap music and his new release titled TULIP.

How did you came to know Christ?

I grew up in a Christian household, so ever since bata pa ako lagi ko ng naririnig ang Gospel. Pero for me, I believe last 2016 ko lang na fully grasp ang Gospel at natanggap ng buong puso. Nung na realize ko na kahit sobrang makasalan ako, papatawarin pa rin ako ni Jesus if I will repent and accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Dun nag-sink in sakin ang ibig sabihin ng grace.

Who introduced you to the doctrine of grace?

    Yung dad namin talaga unang nag-introduce sa amin sa Doctrines of Grace, weekly discussion yun one letter per week. Ang initial reaction ko is, “Parang common knowledge naman ito, or theology sa Christianity” until umabot kami sa letter L which yung “Limited Atonement.” 

Is there a part of the TULIP acrostic that you once struggled to believe in?

Nahirapan ako at first i-grasp yung reality na hindi naman si Jesus for everyone. Pero nung binalikan ko yung first letter which is yung T for “Total Depravity” unti-unti akong na enlightened na “Oo nga no, lahat tayo nagkasala at na offend natin ang isang Diyos na banal. Kung tutuusin nga ay kahit wala syang piliin na iligtas ay mananatili parin siyang just.”

Kailangan talaga natin makita ang kabanalan at kabutihan ng Diyos kesa mag focus sa sarili natin, nakakalungkot dahil kalakip ng ating depravity ay yung pagiging entitled natin na parang utang na loob pa ni Hesus na iligtas tayo sa galit ng Panginoon. 

Knowing the doctrine of grace what impact does it brought you in your Christian walk?


 Malaki naging impact kasi mas nagkaroon ako ng gutom sa Salita ng Diyos at mas naging clear ang purpose ko kung bakit ako nandito sa mundo. Nakaka-humble lang talaga yung fact na malaman mong, hindi talaga dahil sa iyo kung bakit ka nagkaroon ng salvation, even yun assurance na hindi na yun magbabago.

Talagang mapapaluhod at mapapaluha ka nalang minsan sa kabutihan at pagmamahal ng Panginoon, na ang gospel din mismo ang magiging encouragement mo para ipagpatuloy ang mga gawain na pinagkaloob Niya sayo.

Wow! And now your rapping about it on your mini album or EP. So tell us how did you get into rap music?


  It was 2011, 2nd year college ako nun sa UE Manila. Nag start yung rap journey ko, nung umpisa pa battle-battle lang ako kasi uso yung Flip Top that time. Until nagkaroon talaga ako ng deeper appreciation sa art form ng rap kaya mas nag explore ako by starting to write rap songs and record it. As time goes by, nagkaron na rin ng network sa local hiphop community. Ang dami ko din pinagdaanan bago ko umabot sa point na ito today, na gagamitin ko na yung pagra-rap para sa Gospel. 

Seems that rap can adopt any people group or culture and own it. Do you find that insight also as a gospel rap artist?
 

Lagi kong pinapakinggan yung encouragement ni Paul Washer kina Shai Linne (American gospel rapper and pastor) sinabi nya doon:

“The art form you’re doing here- What is it known for in the world? It is known for sin and immorality. It is known to be vile and to cause destruction. But yesterday and today, I saw the same thing happen to a music form that has happened to my life. God has taken it, cleaned it off, made it new, and filled it with life. But let me give you a warning that’s very important. As a preacher, I know this: whenever eloquence is more important than the words spoken, there is no power. And whenever a music medium becomes more important than the truth it seeks to communicate, it’s useless.” -Paul Washer to CHH artists at Legacy Conference.

Naniniwala ako na yung rap ay maaring gamitin ng Panginoon para sa ikalulualhati ng Pangalan Niya.

Another thing I notice is the Christian music scene in the Philippines is not getting much traction. How can rap and the doctrine of grace make a difference in the music scene?

To be honest hindi ko din alam, pero sure ako na ang calling ko ay maging faithful sa pagpapahayag ng totoong Gospel thru this music style. Nasa Diyos na kung i-aallow nya na umabot sa mainstream ang mga ganitong uri ng lyrics sa kanta. Pero sa ngayon, tutuloy ko lang ito at ang pag support sa mga kapatid natin na ganito rin ang tinatahak.

Kindly tell us the process of creating TULIP? 


Nag umpisa yung idea nung nag 28th birthday ako this year last July 19, tinanong ako ng mga kaibigan ko kung ano goal ko for this year at pagkauwi, dun ko naisip na, “bakit hindi nalang ulit isa pang gospel rap album pero mas magiging loud and bold ako about Reformation and Calvinism. So naisip ko why not “TULIP” and yung songs di naman need na per letter ng tulip, basta andun yung overall message ng Doctrines of Grace sa bawat tracks. Then after three months, TULIP came.

What do you want to accomplish on this new album?


Ma-open yung eyes ng brothers and sisters natin na may bad impression sa Calvinism and Reeformation. Also for God to use this to regenerate the hearts of the pre-believers. 

Thank you for giving time to this interview. Kindly invite our readers to check you new album and how can they reach you out on social media?

Hi everyone! Ako po si Jerrel Pilarta, isang gospel rap artist. Kung naghahanap po kayo ng biblical at gospel-centered na music sa Filii ay ito na po, sana bigyan nyo ng time at pakinggan ang bago kong mini-album or EP entitled TULIP

Available po sya sa lahat ng major streaming platforms.

Pwede nyo din po ako i follow sa Facebook: Jerrel Pilarta at IG: @pilartajerrel
At invite ko narin po kayo mag-subscribe sa aking Youtube Channel: Jerrel Pilarta.

(Did you like what you read? Did this article helped you? Then you can share some love by buying me a coffee).

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