From Gods Lips to Your Ears

From Scripture to Rap Lyrics, How Reverend DeWayne GoLightly Went From Preaching About God to Rapping About God

Fredrick Prinze Ortiz, Editor

In 1985, Reverend DeWayne GoLightly was attending the Cleveland Annual Church conference. He sat down to watch a performance by a children’s choir.

“They were singing the books of the Bible but they weren’t rhyming,” said GoLightly. “They were just going through and singing the books.”

That gave him an idea. When he got back to Madisonville, Kentucky he started to write. He used rhymes and rhythm to record his first song “The Books of the Bible” on a cassette player. At that time, rap was a new genre of music just getting off the ground, with notable stars such as Kool Moe Dee, Fresh Prince, and Ice T. It was very popular with young urban culture and GoLightly saw an opening to spread the word of God by putting verses to rap. 

 “I tried to rhyme the books of the Bible to teach the kids an easier way to learn the books of the Bible. And that’s how I got started,” he said.

A year shy of 70, GoLightly was one of the first people to turn Bible verses into rap verses. Today, he is considered to be one of the first Christian rappers, with his own church Fannie Chaples CME, and album Rappin’ 4 Jesus on Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube Music.

But, it wasn’t an easy mountain to climb. Not everyone was fond of his music. 

“Nobody wanted to invite me[To their Church], they thought it was the devil’s music,” said GoLightly “I kept trying to tell them it was just a vehicle to help young people remember the word,” said Golightly.

 GoLightly grew up in the projects of Louisville Kentucky, not knowing he was poor.

 “My mother had to raise four kids by herself and oftentimes she had to work two jobs,” said GoLightly “I remember our cabinets being full of cans.”

at the age of 12. His mother was one of the most influential teachers in his life. He says she instilled lessons in her children like “we never met a stranger” and “always respect your elders”

The kind of love my mother gave was the kind of love that we were taught by example to love our neighbor,” said Rev GoLightly.

As a kid, he always liked to write, especially poetry. It was like a game to him. I would try to rhyme words and the kids in my neighborhood tried to give me words that I couldn’t rhyme,” said GoLightly. 

With all the profit of the record sales going to keeping the lights on. Having given away more tapes than sold, seeing around $300,000 in revenue from selling tapes.

However, his intention was never to be a rapper, but to be a teacher to kids who couldn’t get a Bible.”When I was teaching my kids the books of the bible I didn’t look at it like I was a rapper, my intention was to be a teacher but use rap as a form of teaching”

Christian rap is something of a family affair for Rev GoLightly. We consider ourselves the first family of Christian rap,” son GoLightly as his backup rapper, and his oldest son DeWayne GoLightly Jr, is a producer. And his daughter Dinesti as background vocals, and his ex-wife Denise a designer of stage, posters, and logos.  “I would use them to sell cassettes” “I would have my children come up and I would say this is son Dewayne he’s rap 1 and Daniel he’s rap 2 and I would give them a mic” 

At the age of four years, old GoLightly never knew having his son Daniel help him with his shows would be influencing him as well. Around the 2000s and early 2010s, GoLightly’s son would help his father by keeping his flow with the beat and remembering the words, Daniel started to write rap lyrics and started to notice and embrace it.

“My dad use to start his shows and would introduce me” Having Daniel freestyle at his Fathers shows against other kids who would attend. As Daniel only listened to his father’s songs growing up he took a lot of influence from them. With it being only Daniel and his father on the road they bonded a lot and grew close together “Just me and him, bonding, eating white castle and clowning the whole time” said Daniel.

In the early 90s, Rev GoLightly met an A&R representative from Warner Bros. at a drug and alcohol meeting at a local church in Texas. The two discussed signing him. Two months later GoLightly was still waiting for a response from Warner Bros. he called the secretary. This is when GoLightly found out the man passed with his cassette tape and record deal on his desk

“He wanted to sign me so I didn’t turn it down what happened was two months later he died” “cassette on his desk whatever contract he had still on his desk”. “It’s a sad day because I’m thinking my ministry and my rapping and everything would’ve been who knows where if he had lived,” said GoLightly.

As he got older, GoLightly started to focus on his Church over his music and drifted away from the career he started to teach kids about the word of the Lord. However, with his influence and the start of the new genre, none of it would’ve been possible without Rev’Rap. The genre of Christian rap owes GoLightly the recognition he deserves “He literally did it for the glory of God and deserves the credit” said Daniel GoLightly.