Bay area rapper Alpha Leo smoothly hits us with a history lesson in Christianity with his lead single, “Jesus Was Black.” The 33-year old’s verses are painstakingly well-written proving Jesus was a Black man. Alpha Leo weaves historical facts, Bible and Illuminati theories with precision. It’s not as hook-friendly or as complete as Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” but it’s just as compelling. Alpha Leo was born Deon Jenkins to working-class parents in Richmond, Calif. He started rapping at 13, but didn’t get serious until age 16. After a spiritual awakening from fasting and hardships, Alpha Leo now believes he’s a descendant from the Tribe of Judah. His previous single, “My Time Now,” spent four weeks in the No. 1 spot on Hartford, Conn., radio station KISS 95.7’s Underground Countdown (link).
Take a listen to “Jesus Was Black.” Read the exclusive Q&A with Alpha Leo and find out his thoughts on writing ‘Jesus Was Black’ and Macklemore’s white privilege in rap music.
GN$F!: Is your single’s artwork an actual painting? It bears your resemblance.
Alpha Leo: I wish I can say who did it. I Googled photos for this single, and once I saw this dread head — who looked a lot like me a few years back when I had dreadlocks — I was like, That’s it! I grabbed the photo and used it as artwork. Do not try this at home. [laughs]
GN$F!: What’s the most important line in the song?
AL: “F**k Mel Gibson!” for making that lying movie Passion of the Christ. [laughs] However, my favorite line is:
“Jesus had to be a real ni**a / Flipping over those government official tables he had to be an angry field ni**a / with thorns on his head placed over his dreads/ with his cross crossed over his shoulders and the Pharisees for the Feds / convicted for heresy when all he did was give us bread / so pass me a shot of Hennessy and those Romans would end up dead /and I wish I can shield him / and he looked more like me and NOT like those Europeans who killed him.”
Sorry that I gave you more than one line but this part really emphasizes the main theme for this song and it really shows the characteristics of a Black Jesus.
GN$F!: The painting almost reminds me of one of those classic framed photos our grandmas buy at the swap meet to hang in the hallway — was that the intention?
AL: I liked it because it has an ancient feel to it — it’s a Black man and not the Cesare Borgias-like images we’re used to seeing.
GN$F!: Do you go to church and what do you think of church as a whole?
AL: Jesus hated church just as much as I hate church because church is more religious these days and way less spiritual. However, I do go to church on occasion just to fellowship with other Christians.
GN$F!: Why the name Alpha Leo?
AL: Alpha Leo is a king chosen from the Lion or Leo tribe of Judah. Also, my astrology sign is Leo. I am from the tribe of Judah because the Lord said that I was, and the history of the diaspora could back it up with the Israelites particularly those from the tribe of Judah migrating to West Africa populating in that region. After many years of heavy praying, fasting, meditating, and hardships — the Lord called me to spill his message to the people and He blessed me by stating what tribe I descended.
GN$F!: What do you think of Macklemore and his tackle on taboo subject matter versus what you did with “Jesus Was Black”?
AL: Macklemore isn’t relevant enough to be put in this subject. I have been doing this way before Macklemore. I would’ve appreciated it if you would’ve said somebody like Talib Kweli, Mos Def or Ras Kass. I think that the media puts too much emphasis on White rappers who have learned the culture from people like myself, Ras Kass, Mos Def, and Talib — all who have been keeping it alive. It is another way for them to take the credit from Black culture. They took the Black face off of Jesus, and now they are trying to do the same thing to the face of Hip-Hop. Out of all of the rappers that have been doing this — Macklemore is the least important.