04. Sir the Baptist
Succinctly defining the music of Chicago-bred artist Sir the Baptist (born William James Stokes) isn’t easy, but he attempted to try anyways during his Sunday afternoon set: “I’m not a rapper. I’m half rapper, half singer … somewhere in the middle like a preacher.” Even without that proclamation and multiple references to “church,” Stokes’ set took on the air of a moving Sunday service where he preached diversity through his music’s stunning variation and striving to attain knowledge through his literal words.
With arms and legs flailing as he continuously bounced and bounded across the stage, Sir the Baptist served up a sermon of gospel (an intro sans Sir with his two backup singers leading the charge), island/dub vibes (“(Creflo) Almighty Dollar”), old-school hip-hop (“What We Got”), new school urban fusion that might give Chance the Rapper a run for his money (“Deliver Me”), and plenty of ‘80s Prince and Louis Armstrong (dat growl) influence throughout.
Though he certainly employed Christian themes during the show, he did it in such a way that didn’t feel overbearing, instead communicating a celebration of life as a gift – and a party: “We poppin’ bottles and it feels like …”
“Heaven!” everyone sang back wholeheartedly.