Street-corner preacher

Terrezz Jarrett finds inspiration from ‘Crossover’

Terrezz Jarrett turned to Christianity in producing work as an emcee.
Terrezz Jarrett turned to Christianity in producing work as an emcee.

Terrezz Jarrett recently released his debut, Frozen Blood, under his stage name C.O. Reign. It “stands for ‘CrossOver to Reign,’” the rapper says. “This basically explains my mission statement concerning my music and general life. It is a very detailed mission statement, but, in a nutshell, the mission is to bring strength, wisdom, clarity, purity, peace, joy and unity to people who don’t have it, and to edify the people who already have those qualities.”

Raised on mid-’90s hardcore rap, Jarrett, 21, of Jeffersonville, became a devout Christian as a teen and decided to direct his music upward. “I wasn’t raised on Christian music,” he says. “Though now I have only a few artists I listen to currently. They are all Christian, because they promote a message of awareness to what is going on around us and how God has caused them to overcome certain circumstances. What you put in your heart is what will come out. I know a lot of artists out there, but it takes some personal devotion, skill and anointing power of God to impress me.”

Jarrett’s music is a hybrid of the Southern hardcore of his youth (Master P’s No Limit and Mannie Fresh-era Cash Money) and Christianity, which leaves no doubt as to why he’s rapping. Some rap for fame, others for escape. C.O. is a street-corner preacher with a fitted baseball cap. Frozen Blood is out now via Amazon and iTunes.

LEO: When did you first decide — beyond being a fan of hip-hop and occasionally rapping — that you had it in you to record and release a full album?
Terrezz Jarrett: I made the choice when I realized that people commented on how my voice has a sense of strength about it. I never wanted to do music, because I was fed up with the current music that was on the market, but I found I had a passion to write fresh music of my own. I never thought I was better than anyone, I just felt like there was something I could do instead of criticizing other artists for what they do. I never thought I had the courage, wisdom or understanding that went with compiling a full-length LP, but I did it.

LEO: There seems to be a pretty sizeable difference in quality (production, vocal ability, writing talent) between a good chunk of Christian hip-hop vs. its secular counterparts that doesn’t exist in gospel vs. R&B. Do you agree? Why do you think this is?
TJ: I totally agree. I don’t really know exactly why the quality is 90 percent of the time better than Christian hip-hop, but I can say this: Originality, creativity and excellent production will take you a long way in the music industry.

LEO: How did you connect with Tate Music Group?
TJ: Tate Music Group is a record label out of Oklahoma City that I connected with through MySpace. I wasn’t even looking for a deal, I just connected with them. They gave me the opportunity to send my demo, and I felt like I needed to, so I did. (I) got signed the next month.

LEO: What do you want people to take from your music?
TJ: I want to people to have a sense of strength, wisdom, knowledge, a better understanding of God, greater faith, and a hunger for more.

LEO: Can you see yourself pulling a Sam Cooke and leaving Christian music for secular?
TJ: I will not go that route at all. They can keep the money. If the deal was (for the) same content, then I would consider (it). I would be doing the same things I’m doing now but at a higher capacity. Because I believe that God wants to take me to higher levels, I will be doing this worldwide.

LEO: Some of the most hardcore rappers dedicate their albums to God, often including thanks for their talent. Thoughts?
TJ: Respecting and loving God is not just giving him props, it’s living the way he would like. Sorry to say, but many of those albums given to God are not accepted, because if you’re against something, why would you promote it? He understands their heart and knows that they don’t really know how to do it his way, though.

LEO: Final words?
TJ: Change the man or woman in the mirror for the better, then change your surroundings.

C.O. Reign