Tag Archives: The Iccsters


We Are The Iccsters. Yes, This Is Happening.

Today, October 1st, I updated my Facebook status thusly:

Sometime around 1988, an enterprising urban pastor asked his youngest son to put together a rap for an outreach event. He dutifully complied, and although it was kind of awkward and he didn’t have any beats so he had to use his favorite EPMD instrumental, the twelve-year-old rocked his first mic. Mission accomplished.
Twelve years later, that young man was fresh out of college, living back at home again, and that same pastor asked his now aspiring rap artist son to grab a few friends and put together a rap group to perform for a mens’ conference at the church.
He did, and they did. And they kept performing, not a lot, but a few times a year, here and there. Even after they left the church where they started, they kept at it. Through their twenties and well into their thirties, when it felt like, “maybe we’re a little too old for this…?” … they kept at it.
Fifteen years after their first performance, they are finally ready to release an album of their greatest hits. And that album drops on Sunday.
Comment below if you want more details.


So these are the basic details:


It Never Rains in Southern California (Unless the Iccsters Are In Town)

In my book, any weekend spent rockin’ mics and reppin’ Christ is a great weekend. And despite my battles with an overcrowded schedule and a nasty chest cold, this weekend was no exception.

Jaamar McKelvey (a.k.a. “J-MAC”) and I flew down to L.A. for two performance dates with Church of the Redeemer, a sister congregation in the Evangelical Covenant network of churches. The church, in an attempt to engage the youth and young adults in their neighborhood, called on the crime-fighting hip-hop duo known as The Iccsters to come down and rock mics for their harvest carnival.

By this point, astute readers of this space will have noticed a personnel discrepancy. My regular partner-in-rhyme, Sahaan (a.k.a. Sir-1) was unavailable for this trip, as he and his wife were taking some much-needed time together. So I called on his ably-skilled brother to fill in. Having Jaamar on call for these kinds of occasions is a wonderful luxury to enjoy, not only because he shares our passion for outreach and is also supremely talented on the mic, but also because he already knows all of our material.

(Plus, most people can’t tell them apart on first sight anyway.)

As expected, our trip was an absolute blast. I got to see some old friends (Douglas and Erika Haub and their children Mercy, Aaron and Elijah, as well as Danny and Donna Martinez and their dynamic prodigy Eric) and make some new ones (Richard and Anna, Justin and Ali, Sylvia, Scott, Damion and Isaac). Big shouts of love to all of them, they made our trip quite memorable.

Besides our two sets at the harvest party and ministering during Sunday morning service, we ate great food (including my first trip to Roscoe’s), enjoyed great conversation and generally tried to take in as much authentic L.A. flavor as we could in just over 48 hours.

So watching Mercy swoon, listening to Richard and Justin debate the merits of California’s Proposition 8, breaking down Doug’s chord progressions, waking up to the sickly sound of a rooster outside the guest room window in the apartment where we stayed, choppin’ it up with the bootleg CD salesman outside of Roscoe’s, narrowly avoiding impact with several reckless drivers on the 10, shaking our heads at all the crazy characters on Venice Beach, marveling at the distances from which one can hear the tamale lady yelling “ta-MA-le!!!!!,” and joining in the chorus of people trying to get Damion to quit stalling and do the rap that he wrote… these are memories you can’t buy on a cruise line or a resort. Thanks to all of you.

By the way, I never really understood the significance behind that languid R&B hit by Tony! Toni! Tone!, “It Never Rains (In Southern California).” I thought its title was more of a gimmicky exaggeration than a generalized statement of truth. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest where rain is as surely a part of life as death and taxes, I figured that it must rain occasionally in Southern Cali, just not as often.

So it was with detached amusement that I heard the shrieks (of delight? or horror?) coming from several Angeleno ladies who were getting unexpectedly rained on. The following drizzly morning, my local host dryly informed me that he ordered up some Portland weather to make me feel comfortable. When I casually asked him how long it had been since this weekend’s spate of precipitation, he had to stop and think.

“Almost a year, I think.”

Los Angeles, CA: Where Rain Is An Event.

(Note to any LA county regional power-brokers: I’ll trade you the rights to that slogan for your assurance that the Blazers won’t have to play the Lakers in the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs.)

Anyway, I hope not to wait another nine years before I return. Maybe by the next time, instead of people remarking on Doug’s resemblence to Lakers center Pau Gasol, they’ll be comparing me to Blazers center Greg Oden.

Strike that.

What I meant to say is, maybe by then they’ll be comparing my dad to Greg Oden.

(I don’t look that old, do I?)

(You know what… don’t answer that.)

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.


“A Little Cereal With Some Friends”

[Insert standard disclaimer about being busy to explain more than two weeks of time passing between posts.]

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I just wanted to take a quick minute to point out a new TunePak on ReverbNation that I designed. It features a new internet only joint about social networking (entitled, shockingly, “Social Networking”) and another one of our why haven’t we recorded this song already joints called “Kingdom Livin’ (I Go to Work).”

The whole chorus of “Social Networking” is asking people to post our music (in the form of this tunepak) on their blogs. It’s a desperate bid for attention promotional opportunity, I know, but people keep bugging us about making our recordings available.

Baby steps, people… baby steps.

I know it’s a little ridiculous to post the link to the TunePak when I have the official Iccsters tune widget embedded right into my blog, but there are several other aggregators that this blog feeds, and those aggregators don’t have the RN tune widget (including those of you reading this through Facebook).

What would it look like if I’m begging everyone else to post this song to their blog and I don’t have the nerve to post it to my own blog?

Anyway… Iccsters fans, unite.

And put this on your blog. =)

(By the way if you’re wondering what the top image is for, it’ll be the top slide of the presentation that I’ll eventually put together the next time we put on a concert.)

(What, you’ve never seen hip-hop concerts with Powerpoint before?)


Much love to the SPU fam at Night of Beats!

So me and my boy Jaamar — a.k.a J-MAC had the opportunity to take the stage and rock mics at the Night of Beats at Seattle Pacific University last night.

Because Jaamar was standing in for Sahaan (his brother), a.k.a. Sir-1, the other official half of The Iccsters, who were featured performers. And when we get to do our thing, it’s usually a good time for all parties involved.

But still… last night was straight up ridonckulous. (Yeah, I made that word up, but trust me, it fits.)

We’ve had appreciative crowds before, but these cats were just off-the-hook loud and crazy.


I thought having the rafters like 50 feet away from the stage would make everyone quiet and withdrawn, but it was like having the opposite effect… it’s like folks were cheering even louder to make up for the difference. Consequently, that was just about the most fun I’ve had rockin’ mics in a good long while.

Big ups to Bel Aldrett for taking care of us, to Paul Comrie for the interview for The Falcon (check the site for publication next week!) and for Nikkita Oliver for inviting us. And my friend Darrell (and his brother Eric) for comin’ out just to support us. Ya gotta love a friend who does that.

And for those who asked about when our CD is coming out… I’m sorry we’re not done yet!

But I have good news.

I just saved fifteen percent on my car insurance by switching to GEICO!

No, for real this time…

The good news is that you can sign up to be on my emailing list, and that way you’ll be among the first to know when we finally do get our album out. And if you really want to help us out, you’ll tell all your friends who saw us to do the same.

Just go to the The Iccsters’ Tunewidget window on the front page. Along the top right side is a small grey box that says “mailing list.” Click it, and then input your email address. And if you wanna be a real dedicated fan, you can be on our street team!

As Just.Live sez,

“bolla atcha hoy.”

UPDATE: The Falcon story is up, and somehow Rapzilla picked it up. Very satisfying.

(Ummm…. I mean… all glory to God.)


Live from Newberg, It’s Monday at Lunchtime!

Just wanted to send a quick shout-out to all the folks who came to listen to my lunchtime concert at George Fox University today. I’m fairly certain that the music that I was able to present is not indicative of normal sit-down fare at a Christian school, even one known to have progressive thinkers. If you were there for the whole thing then you witnessed how I tend to borrow from many musical idioms and experiences, which some people find unusual. (Me, it’s just how I tend to live.) However, it also means that, having pulled material from a wide repertoire, I tend to not remember all of the songs that I may perform on a particular date. I lead worship on a regular basis, and I’ve done special music at different conferences and events, and the older I get the more it all starts to blur. So if you really enjoyed one of the songs I performed and you want to know more about the songs (or, in some cases, who wrote and/or popularized them if they’re not original pieces) then you are in the right place. Who knows, I may even make some of the originals available for download. Today’s setlist consisted of the following…

Walk-in music:


My favorite tune by alt-jazz-rockers Steely Dan. I got on their bandwagon (the Danwagon?) late in life, but the first time I heard this tune, I was on my way to go get a Christmas tree with my post-college roommates in Chicago. I was thinking… this is a fun little song… I like this… who is it??? Mine is the only arrangement I know of with a sequenced drum solo in the middle. Email me for an mp3 copy, and check for the original version here.

“Linus and Lucy”

This song should need no explanation to anyone over the age of 21. My arrangement is funkier than the normal one you hear, but that’s the main difference. Well, that, and I threw in a reference to a mid-80’s sitcom theme. Did anyone catch what it was? It happened in the beginning. If you wanna hear it again, email me and I’ll send you an mp3. As for the original, you can find it here.

Introductory Praise & Worship Music:

“You’re Worthy of My Praise” / “Holy Holy Holy” “One Pure and Holy Passion”
“Here I Am to Worship”

These are popular modern praise and worship songs, most of which have spent a long time (and may still sit) on the list of 25 most popular Christian praise and worship songs, according to CCLI. (I say “Christian” praise and worship because most pop songs are praising and worshiping something… a hot girl, a hip car, a cool pair of jeans… or even just love itself.)

Unplugged Number:

“The Shelter of God”

I wish I could tell you who wrote that song, because technically, it wasn’t me. At least not the words, anyway. One of my wife’s friends gave her a book of illustrated poetry once, and while perusing this book I found a poem entitled “The Shelter of God.” I was so moved by this poem, I decided to set it to music.

And then Holly and I moved to Portland from Chicago and I lost the book somewhere in the shuffle. *shrug*

I probably altered the lyrics a little to fit them to the melody, so if anyone has seen this book and knows the poem, forgive my taking artistic license. Here are the lyrics, evocative of Psalm 91:

Lord, you are my hiding place
A shelter from the storm
Protection from the heat and the cold
I rest under the cover of your wing

Your love is all around me
Your love is all around me
Your love is all around me

Above me to uplift me
Beneath me to support me
Behind me to protect me
Before me to guide me
Around me to shield me
And within me to strengthen me

Lord, You are my hiding place
This day, and forever,
Lord, You are my hiding place

This tune has yet to be recorded, because of licensing/copyright issues.

Instrumental/Smooth Jazz:

This song was born from a season of frustration for me, when I was trying to do the right thing and failing miserably. (I’ve had many seasons of life like that.) Something about the acoustic guitar arpeggiator on the keyboard workstation was very soothing to me, so I started messing around, created a groove, and then plucked out a melody for it. I’m in the process of putting words to it now, but it’s taking awhile. So right now it’s just an instrumental.

Inspired Cover:

“What A Heart Is Beating For”

This is a song by singer/songwriter Chris Rice. I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of his overall, but I heard the song for the first time last year, and I was smitten by its marriage of simple melody and heartfelt emotion. As someone who often prides himself on being relatively calm and detached, I need songs like these to be the antidote for my perfectionist inertia. The message of the song: Just get out there and love already, geez. That’s what a heart is beating for. You can find the original recording here, and you can also find Chris Rice’s blog, entitled That’s What A Heart is Blogging For, here.
Original holy hip-hop:

“That’s What I’m Standin’ On”

This was a tune I wrote for a worship conference a few years back, where the speaker was talking about standing on the rock that is Christ Jesus. I tried to capture this idea my own way. Here’s the chorus, in case you missed it:

It’s not the skills that I possess or the connections I have
It’s not the grades that I achieved in English or math
Not that way that I approach navigating my path
But the fact that when I stand I never stand alone

It’s His Spirit inside, always workin’ in me
Reminding me that He’ll provide everything that I need
In the places where He leads, I’ve struggled indeed
But He’s the solid rock in me, that’s what I’m standin’ on

“The Lord Giveth”

What I dropped today is actually a remix. The original track I used here, which was written as a companion piece for a sermon at the former Axis ministry of Willow Creek Community Church. One of their producers called me and asked me if I had any original spoken word or hip-hop material related to the story of Elijah and the widow in 1 Kings 17. I told them no… but I would pray about it and write one if the Lord gave me the lyrics.

And then He did, so they came out to my north Chicago neighborhood and shot a little video for it:


“Kingdom Livin’ (I Go to Work)”

As I’ve no doubt mentioned, my friend Sahaan McKelvey and I started a hip-hop duo way back in the day (like 8 years ago), and we call ourselves The Iccsters. (Mostly because when we got started in our church, we didn’t want anyone to call us the Irvington Covenant Rappers.) These two songs have been two of our our biggest hits. You can listen to “Cereal” and a few other tracks on our myspace page.