The month of pioneers continues with this week In Sync we follow and discuss the musical and influential life of Gregory Cassim.
Gregory Cassim started off in the SA CHH industry as a rapper and morphed into a concert promoter and events manager, he has been one of the long-standing pioneers of CHH in SA. Cultivating the culture as well as the skill from the belly of the church to local and international stages. “I grew up listening to Bone Thugs, Snoop and Nas. My musical influences since becoming a Christian is Stephen the Levite, Shai Linne and Theory Hazit,” shared Gregory. The one-third of the SA CHH group Remixd reflected the greatest highlight was visiting the Philippine Islands and rapping in various villages. “I wouldn’t say (South African Christian Hip Hop is) losing its way but the influence is no longer as it used to be.
I mean when we were rapping, we managed to tour the entire country as well as overseas because we worked closely with pastors. Apart from that, there were numerous groups and concerts were booming. In my era, you had groups like Spin the Flava, ourselves (Remixd), SALT, 39 Stripes, Cjay and so many more powerful acts. I live in KZN and the only CHH artists I know is Church BOYY Bizness, Spaz and Sgora, and they are not as busy,” noted Gregory adding that CHH is not a genre of music that the church at large recognizes and for the most part the perception is that it’s music for youth only; there has only been a handful of artists who managed to bridge that gap and appeal to old and young, one example being C Jay who was successful because he blended his hip hop with praise and worship.
I would ask the church to trust CHH as it is a powerful tool for ministry. We cannot just curse the darkness and point out the evils of the culture, we need to provide alternatives, and for the youth, CHH is that alternativeGregory Cassim
“There needs to be a collective effort by artists, producers and managers. We also need more concert promoters for CHH; promotion is very important, you can be the best artist with a classic album but it would be of no use if nobody knows you exist,” he explained. Gregory more than many knows the ins and outs of promotion, has hosted an array of local and international talent, notably, he has brought Da truth, Propaganda and in partnership with Fresh Impressions hosted the Unashamed tour featuring the 116 clique and local SA CHH favorites.
He has not limited his influence to just CHH but the urban culture in its diversity, partnering once again with Sir Harry to host the Poets In Autumn Africa tour and also Christian comedy nights “there are plenty of local Christian comedians who are super talented,” he added. He reflected that one performance that was a highlight for him that he hosted was in Kenya with about 5000 in attendance for the Unashamed Africa Tour in 2011. “Excellence, it’s a major put off when an artist comes to a show with their music on a phone and not on CD or USB, Crowd Interaction and Energy,” Gregory pointed out are the elements to a good live performance.
Family man and Husband recently announced the latest addition to his family, last week his daughter was born making him a father of two. At the moment he doesn’t have anything planned but during the lockdown, we saw many a virtual public gathering hosted by him equipping the saint in the Christian creative arts. “I would ask the church to trust CHH as it is a powerful tool for ministry. We cannot just curse the darkness and point out the evils of the culture, we need to provide alternatives, and for the youth, CHH is that alternative,” expressed Gregory.
Gregory’s playlist features the local CHH artists Blaque Nubon and even Zim CHH legend Courtney Antipas also suggesting we be on the lookout for Kingsmasher based in Cape Town. “Without Cross Movement, there’s no Lecrae and all the other CHH artists people love,” said Greg. His words of encouragement to SA CHH artists are, “don’t limit your art to the church, get on mainstream stages and shine your light through your music.”
Follow Gregory on social media @GregoryCassim to keep up on the latest events in the Urban Gospel space. We salute the leadership and innovation of Gregory and hope to learn and emulate the dedication to growing the influence of the Gospel on the urban culture.
SACHH raises the flag and raises the bars.