On Sunday 31st July 2022 I had a confessional not in the Catholic church but at the Coterie Book Cafe with Derrick ThaPriest. A fancy place for a confessional if you ask me. But also a good place to have you sharing your deep-seated thoughts over a glass of wine, with poetry and acoustic sound in the background.
The Confessional moment I had was with Vickie, my bestie. ThaPriest facilitated many moments like those as he serenaded the audience with his songs. His music boasts of deep and reflective lyrics that take you on a journey to the past, present and future.
ThaPriest started his music and rap career in 2010 when he recorded his first song. He has many singles, one mixtape (Mary Go Round 2019) and now an EP which he likes to call an album (King and Priest 2022).
I spoke with ThaPriest about his musical journey and the Confession Box.
Who is Derrick ThaPriest?
A minister of God, raising incense to the LORD and presenting God to men as a written epistle and also preaching & teaching through music and art.
What is the origin of your name?
The name Derrick ThaPriest is derived from my childhood desire to become a Priest since it made logical sense that those who spend time closest to God experience all the fun, and power and lack no good thing.
Having been raised Catholic, the concept of Priest shown to me kept becoming less desirable and also unattainable given that my youthful desires were contrary to what was required of the Seminarians. So I lowkey quit that pursuit after a miserable attempt at being an altar boy. I later encountered God and gave my life to Christ starting a personal relationship and walk with Him.
Desiring to give back to God for all that He had done for me, I decided to record one song “Give it Back” and then go about the ordinary socially acclaimed path of going to school and working an office job. I however kept finding ways to record music and along that journey, I decided to change my alias from ThaOwl to ThaPriest .
The LORD later confirmed to me that the name was an actual call, so I started to take it more seriously. It was later further given a third witness when a distinct prophetic teacher, Rabbi Daniel Malinga picked me out and among the things he spoke over me was a confirmation of three things (1). I have a teaching anointing (2). I am called to preach and teach through music and (3). I have a Priestly unction. So that’s how the name came about.
What is your favourite meal?
My favourite meal is pork with salad; posho which I eat with vegetables like dodo and sukuma wiki. I also love yoghurt and chocolate nut smoothie.
What song can`t you get enough of lately?
You Move Me by Susan Ashton.
Now let`s talk about the Confession Box concept. How did it come about?
The Confession Box is a space where ThaPriest along with other selected artists tell the secrets and stories that inspire(d) their art and also give the expression of their minds on different life issues through creative storytelling. The event is also a space that curates and showcases great but uncommon talent.
Congratulations on your first-ever show, The Confession Box. How did it feel for you to host the show? What inspired you to do the show?
Thank you very much, Racheal! I was especially glad to see you there. It was a wonderful experience and also simply a step of faith with the revelation that God was/is waiting for me to make the move.
A friend/sister from fellowship, Blessed Okpoei sold me the idea in 2021. At the time I felt under-resourced and overwhelmed by the idea of making it happen so I shelved it. But after returning from a miraculous 20-day travel opportunity to Europe, I got the urge to execute the idea. I moved by faith and reached out to the two people that had shown interest in putting together an event, Blessed and Paul “Organicafe”.
I had been studying different spaces to understand what going out for an event feels like given that I hardly ever go out at night to party. I was drawn to places along Bandali rise. I invited Paul one night to show him a potential venue. He took me to the venue we chose (Coterie) which a friend manages. I instantly fell in love with it. It felt like home. That night, we sat down with the manager and tabled the idea.
I moved by faith throughout the preparations. I set a date for the event even though the music team wasn`t complete yet. God filled in the missing pieces. Some weeks were really challenging but I had faith in God. I also had received a prophetic word which backed me up. In the end, I hosted the Confession Box on 31st July instead of 27th July, my birth date!!
Your songs are infused with your native language-Rutooro which I absolutely love. Why is it important for you to sing and rap in your native language? Do you write your own songs?
It adds flavour to the music and also feels much more enjoyable. I also think it to be an authentic and unique expression of who I am. It is also a celebration of the people that God saw fit I am numbered among, the Batooro. Yes, I do write my songs and enjoy doing so. I’ve also started to write for other artists.
Your music deals with a cocktail of issues: love, loss, dating, loss, identity and God. Is there a particular reason why you focus on these themes?
These are themes that most people easily relate to and I find that music is a good conduit for giving what I believe is God’s perspective on different life experiences.
You had artists like Wake, Melchizedek and Joy perform during the Confession Box show. How important are collaborations to an artist/creative?
Collaborations challenge you to be better and always at your best game. They are also not only good opportunities to learn things you didn’t know about your craft but also a beautiful opportunity to challenge monotony and introduce greater variations, dynamics, and creativity to the art.
I noticed that members of the Christian Rappers’ Fellowship Uganda were present to support you. Tell us about the fellowship and how it has influenced you and your art.
The fellowship is called Entikko which means at the helm/top. It is a vision by the rapper Ray MC to unite Christian rappers and also have Christians, particularly Gospel music artists at the helm of cultural influence. I personally don’t see myself as a gospel artist but as an artist whose music in one way or another delivers the gospel.
The fellowship is a good resource spot in terms of sharing experiences and also having a form of accountability. It’s a space that is great to keep you anchored in the faith; get and give different perspectives of a Christian’s place in the music industry and how to offer sweet-smelling incense to our ABBA.
Which Ugandan gospel artist are you listening to now?
I’m not listening to a lot of Ugandan music at the moment. I’m studying other artists that serve a more international audience beyond their home country. But I like to listen to Brian Lubega and Zoe Melodies mostly, and for the rest, I just appreciate their craft. Artists like Bunjo Ville, Coopy Bly, the Collective Ug, Karungi, Wake and Afrie have caught my attention. I love their authenticity, storytelling and musical/vocal skills. Plus they have tapped into the spirit of their craft to a level that I appreciate.
I think those have managed to get my attention among others that I won’t mention for lack of space.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Yes, I do. I have a mini album/ E.P titled King & Priest, and I’m planning and contemplating when and how to release it. The EP has six songs (The Call, Resurrect, Lamp, Look here, King and Priest and Zukuka) but I might just add one more before release.
The people that attended the first edition of the Confession Box will be getting it first when I do publish it. Also working on other collaborations and music videos that will be shared in 2023.
What’s the idea behind the King and Priest EP? What do you want people`s takeaway from the EP to be?
The idea behind it is a simple reflection in the mirror for anyone that has been called to walk with God as part of that Chosen generation and Royal Priesthood. It’s both a description of my path along the journey of becoming and living as a King and Priest, but also an invitation to be all the Jesus paid blood price for us to be; King and Priest
What`s a random fact about you that people might not know?
I’m lefthanded. Hahaaa!