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God's Emcee ...introducing Sintaxtheterrific
[ by ben forrest ]


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Other than e-mail and chat rooms, where text is rarely adorned with proper punctuation, capitalization or good grammar, the biggest threat to the English language is probably rap music. "Hot in Herre" was only the beginning. Outkast's Big Boi, in his recent "The Way You Move," video, suggests that he and an automotive mechanic go to her office so he can tell her "everything what's wrong" with his car. And there's also Chingy, whose song titles include "Right Thurr," "Holidae Inn" and "Wurrs My Cash." Snoop Dogg used to be at the "tizzle (top) of the lizzle (list), dizzle (dawg)," but his once-popular phraseology seems now to have gone the way of Pig Latin. Maybe it's a way for emcees who've lost touch with the streets to keep the massive white middle-class, who push them to the top of the charts, from understanding what's being said. Or maybe they just never passed third grade English. At any rate, with respect to Chuck D and the long-departed Tupac, it seems as though most rappers aren't cerebral types.

Sintaxtheterrific PhotoAnd I'm willing to bet none of them went to law school. Most of them wouldn't tell you that the American judicial system is, "more often than not, the best approximation of justice humanity is presently able to approach," or could even decode that sentence. Maybe you agree. But if you do, you've probably never met D. Josev Brewer. Consider this an introduction.

"My present co-workers have no clue," says Brewer, a corporate defence lawyer, of his night occupation as a killer of mics. "There's one cat in the mail room that knows. We build a bit. His brother's an emcee here in town. Otherwise, quiet is kept. They wouldn't believe it if I told them."

And maybe you wouldn't either, if you strolled into his office at around 9 A.M. and found him doing…whatever lawyers do with briefs. You wouldn't guess that this guy, who by his own admission "regularly [ensures] that companies can discriminate, steal, and maim with impunity," also has a love for communicating the Gospel via hip-hop (both as a solo artist and, more famously, as a member of the Deepspace 5 crew). But there are a lot of things you don't know about Sintaxtheterrific. This is your education.

"I was born in Ann Arbor, MI," Tax tells me, though he was "raised in the suburbs of the Baltimore/Washington Metro area." He entered the rap game in 1993, the good folks at Sphere of Hip Hop reveal, with a demo that featured production by DJ Dove, formerly of Gospel Gangstaz. After moving south to pursue his education, Tax made friends with manCHILD (currently the vocal half of Mars Ill) and Recon, and formed The Pride. That crew was eventually absorbed into DS5, who released their "official" debut in 2001 and, as Elaine Benes might say, "Yadda yadda yadda, we never heard from him again."

Sintaxtheterrific PhotoBut if that's what you're thinking you haven't been looking hard enough. He's still there (albeit on a small independent label), with a solo joint called Simple Moves, and still dreams of the days when his law career-"a jealous mistress," he says, "which commands time [he] would otherwise commit to my family and music," will be laid to rest.

And Simple Moves is a humble step in that direction. Tax reveals his formula for song writing: "I take a balanced approach in my music," he says. "I want it to be accessible and thought-provoking, spiritual and entertaining, innovative and traditional. I am not suggesting that my music is in fact any of those things…only that those ideas are the [goal]."

Perhaps most important, though is this: "I don't want to sacrifice what I say for how I say it or vice versa," he says. "I would like to say important things in creative and enjoyable ways," though he humbly admits that he's somewhat inconsistent in achieving that goal. "Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't," he says.

So for now it's lawyering by day and emceeing whenever he gets the time—which is probably not that often, given the types of schedules attorneys keep. So why spend his downtime behind a mic? That question meets another question: "Why not?"

What it all comes down to is this: corporate defence pays the bills, but rap is his passion, and uses all of his abilities. It places him front and centre in God's band of evangelicals, and that helps give his life meaning. Bottom line? A question answered with another question: "What could be more fulfilling than communicating the gospel of Christ in a creative way?"
- Ben Forrest
March 2004
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