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Rap has been around since the ’70s. Christian rap made an appearance in the ’80s. But who ever heard of Orthodox Christian rap?
Well, Corvallis has.
Local resident Daniel Marker recently released
a CD, “Christian Rap,” under the moniker Young Penitent. Marker wrote all the lyrics, and Nathan Roose, his friend since grade school, composed all the music. Roose also played keyboards and electric guitar on the CD, and recorded the accompaniments at his home. “I definitely took Nathan out of his comfort zone on this album,” Marker said with a smile. “He’s a rocker.”
Marker recorded his raps at Wild Rose Studio in Corvallis, and the album was mixed and mastered there. The CD grew out of his longtime fondness for rap. “Before I became a Christian, I listened to a lot of rap,” he said, citing the late Tupac Shakur as his favorite. “But I lost the taste for it because of the content,” Marker said. “I don’t want to expose myself to it. I haven’t listened to much of it lately.”
He already had started writing raps 10 years ago. Once he converted to Christianity, “I began to write raps about what was on my mind, and now Christianity is the main focus of my life,” he said.
Marker rhymes about the Book of Genesis, repentance and relationships. “I’m trying to spread the message that Christ has for people, using our culture of our native peoples so they can readily assimilate the message,” he said. “I’m using the culture of this community by way of an introduction to Orthodoxy.” And how does Marker sum up Christ’s message? “Salvation,” he said firmly.
Marker and his family came to Corvallis when he was a first-grader; he graduated from Crescent Valley High School in 2000. His parents, Dr. Thomas and Marilyn Marker, still live here. Tom Marker has listened to his son’s CD, and pronounced it “phenomenal.”
Tom Marker sent his son to the University of Oregon with two books: the Tao Te Ching and the Holy Bible. Although Daniel Marker had no particular spiritual background, he always was interested in reading about religion and philosophy.
His spiritual quest began in earnest when he read the two books his father had given him. “I read through them both and they very much influenced me,” he said. “I meditated and read about different traditions, and I settled on Christianity. It came down to a choice, and I said yes. I accepted Christ and put him in first place, ahead of myself.”
He then began to explore different denominations of Christianity, trying to find a fit. He returned to Corvallis as a college senior, and finished his degree in Spanish at Oregon State University.
During this time, he found himself talking with the Rev. Jim Norlie, the campus pastor at Luther House. Marker told Norlie, “I believe humans have the ability to recognize the truth.” Norlie told him that this belief aligned with Orthodox Christianity, and suggested Marker investigate the Orthodox Church. “He played matchmaker, that’s what he did,” Marker said.
The first Orthodox service Marker attended was a four-hour Palm Sunday liturgy at St. Anne Orthodox Church in Lewisburg. “I loved it,” he said. “I loved everything about it.” He was baptized on Palm Sunday the following year, and now attends St. Martin Russian Orthodox Church in Corvallis, not far from Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, where he works as a groundskeeper.
Marker gave out copies of “Christian Rap” at the church. He said one young man particularly liked it, enough to give him a hug. “That made me feel good,” he said.
The CD is available at Happy Trails Records and Gracewinds Music, both in Corvallis, as well as on the Internet. Young Penitent also has videos on Youtube.com. Several of them can be found with this story at gazettetimes.com.