Diarra Hamilton, known as aVoicE, prefers the title “Urban Christian” rather than rapper.
Though his latest album, being released nationally on Nov. 13, is essentially hip-hop, he wants to make clear that the connotations associated with rap and hip-hop aren’t his style.
“My music is for everyone, but it’s the youngest generation that I want to speak to,” said Hamilton, who lives in Phoenix. “That was a time in my life when I needed someone to look to.”
Hamilton, 33, grew up in Brooklyn and later lived in Florida. During his childhood and teenage years, Hamilton experienced abuse from his father in a family of five siblings, witnessed instances of depression in his mother, the pain of abortions with former girlfriends, and then his own hard drug abuse after moving to Florida.
“When it got bad, it got really bad,” said Hamilton, who has been sober since 2008.
While working in the restaurant business, he was introduced to cocaine and quickly became addicted. For a period of about six years, Hamilton said he would spend about $80 a day on drugs.
But a complete turnaround, Hamilton explains, happened when he was arrested for possession of cocaine in Florida and spent a short time in jail. As his cell mate was leaving, he gave Hamilton his Bible that included a personal note inside.
“He wrote how I had a great character, and it made me start reading,” Hamilton said.
As he read on, he found the power to cut cocaine and other substances cold turkey. He then made a promise to his sister, who also lives in Phoenix, that he would clean up his act.
Hamilton soon moved here to live with his sister, and since then his life has taken a different path.
“This album is me hatching from that world and starting fresh,” Hamilton said.
After writing his first song at the age of 11, when hip-hop in New York “was basically everything,” Hamilton said writing was always a passion.
“(Hip-hop) got us over the hump of living in poverty,” he added.
The album titled “Hatched” discusses topics like sexual integrity, strained relationships with his brothers, and beginning a new legacy with his wife and future family.
“It first comes from me being a Christian man, doing everything I can to be Christlike,” Hamilton said.
He admits his music has made a definite change since becoming a Christian, from inspiration, to themes, to lyrics.
But the biggest change, is his heart for the community.
Hamilton and his wife, Merissa, work together in various ministries for local youth and aim to spread awareness to teens about their stance on abortion through organizations like Silent No More Awareness.
“I’m still overcoming things,” said Hamilton. “But it’s helped me with life of being a man and a husband.”
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