I first came across the music of L.A. rapper Jason Petty aka Propaganda in 2004. I saw his CD and realized he was a member of the rap crew Tunnelrats, who were all sharp-witted, spiritually earnest and lyrically acrobatic. And sure enough Propaganda displayed all those qualities.
The best California rappers have the ability to draw you in with the warmth of their humor and slang and then blindside you with tragic tales, uncomfortable imagery or challenging ideas. Yes, Propaganda has it too.
His ‘Excellent’ album and his subsequent records are not easy listening. They’re BBQs and barbed wire, they’re theology and cultural criticism, they’re activism and fatherhood. His versatility is a wonderful thing, but ultimately it’s his prophetic edge that makes him such a vital figure in contemporary culture.
He brings up uncomfortable truths about America’s ugly history. He dares his rap contemporaries to lose the whole world and gain back their souls. He candidly shares his own brokenness and his fierce allegiance to Jesus and his Upside Down Kingdom. His words point us towards revolution, repentance, forgiveness and joy.
Here he introduces himself and his ‘Excellent’ album:
and here’s the title track:
I’m very grateful for Propaganda. Through him the Divine has spoken to my spirit. May God bless his socks off.
Here’s ‘Redefined Cutter’, an emotive autobiographical rap attack – beautiful stuff:
‘Crimson Cord’ gives us a good sense of his depth, his theology and his willful musical left-fieldness:
April 2020 Update
These last 7 years have been busy ones for Propaganda. As well as a many collaborations including ‘I Am Becoming’, a photojournalistic poetry book with Oakland-raised Kristopher Squints and The Red Couch, a hard-hitting, super honest podcast with his wife Dr. Alma Zaragoza-Petty, he’s released three more albums:
Crimson Cord (2014)
Nothing But A Word (2019) (with Derek Minor)
Check these songs: