Righteous B
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The best kept secret in music

Press


Rapper finds beat of faith


BY KAREN DIETLEIN
STAFF WRITER


At St. Paul the Apostle Church in Schenectady last weekend, the afterlife looked a lot like a hip-hop concert.


"We're gonna take it back for the Church!" rapper Righteous B called into a hand-held microphone, twisting words into rhymes and working the crowd with an upraised, gesturing hand.


Hip-hop music rumbled and roared from large speakers on either side of the school gym's stage as dozens of Catholic teens from St. Paul's and St. Ambrose Church in Latham screamed approval.


"We're gonna bless the crowd!" the rapper cried.


'God of life'


The beats were secular, but the message was spiritual at the concert, which St. Paul's hosted as part of its Afterlife program, held after teen Masses.


Through rap and rhyme, Righteous B (aka Houston-based Catholic youth minister Bob Lesnefsky) imparted a message to the throng of teens that God isn't stale, dusty, boring or irrelevant.


"Our God is the God of life!" he said from the stage. "We hear about the vocation crisis, the sex abuse crisis. What we really got is a crisis of boring people in the Church. We need to be a people God is taking over. Wherever you're at in your life, Jesus Christ is calling you to be radical."


Rapper's message


For many teens, the concert was also a reunion. Five years ago, Mr. Lesnefsky inaugurated the Life Teen program at St. Paul's. He shepherded many of the evening's revelers through Teen Masses, Scripture study, social events, retreats, service projects and Confirmation prep.


He grew up listening to hip-hop in Philadelphia and carried his love for the form to the Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned a degree in theology. In 2000, he was at St. Paul's, facing the challenge of adapting traditional youth ministry techniques to reach teens in the parish and in the neighborhood around the parish with "Christ's message," he said.


"Hip-hop is big right now," he told The Evangelist. "It's not just the city kids. It's everywhere. And hip-hop is at the forefront of art; it has an influence on every kind of music right now. It's not just the music. It's what you're doing, where you're going. [Youth ministers] have to enter into the culture."


Art and Christ


At St. Paul's concert, boys wore backwards baseball caps and hoodie sweatshirts; girls sported glitter and logo tees. Mr. Lesnefsky echoed them in jeans, a logo tee, silver earrings and a terry wristband.


As a Catholic artist, he said, he tries to heed the call of Pope John Paul II, "who said that we need more Catholic artists, people who are breathing Christ into all forms of art."


That happens, he explained, "when you listen to hip-hop. It engages your whole body, with dance moves, singing with the hooks and choruses. It's just like when we come to know Christ: He wants to engage our whole lives."


Connections


Kayla Schumaker, 23, believes that events like the concert help teens make a connection with their faith and the world -- and that it helps them feel more comfortable being a Christian.


"This type of music is all about getting hooked by something, a sense of belonging. His lyrics have meaning behind him that kids can relate to," she explained.


"It's all about the message," said Adam Powhida, 19, referring to hip-hop. "When you mix in all the profanity, that's when it gets bad. This message is pro-God."


"It's the content of what you're saying, not the beat behind it, that matters," Katie Hauenstein, 19, said. "And it's my style."


Pastor's blessing


Rev. George Brucker, pastor of St. Paul's, called Mr. Lesnefsky "an outstanding youth minister. He brought many teens back to the faith because of the program. It's one of the best programs we brought into the parish."


The priest called the concert the teens' "time to be demonstrative and spontaneous, and that's what hip-hop allows you to do. It's lively, gets hold of you, really makes you want to get up and bounce."


Seventeen-year-old Theresa Allen pronounced the concert "awesome. It took normal radio songs and turned them into Christian songs. Everybody was so full of energy."


Kim Himes, 17, agreed, saying: "I think it'll open people's eyes that hip-hop doesn't always have to be bad, that they can put good into words."


Endorsements


Lizzie Smalley, 18, had been part of Mr. Lesnefsky's youth group and brought her younger sister, Becky, to the concert.


"These days, when kids think about Church, they think about boring things," Lizzie noted. "This is a new evangelistic style that works. It worked here, and got kids off the streets and into church."


"It was awesome, just blew me away," raved 16-year-old Chris Mangano. "Christian influence is very nice to have in the music because of the message it has."


(Bob Lesnefsky is an advocate for inner-city youth ministry. - The Evangelist (Albany Diocese)


Righteous B - WINNER 2004 Unity Awards - "Best Hip Hop Album of the Year" and "Best Hip Hop Song of the Year"
UMCVA Awards


“Righteous B Get the kids to revolt is 62 minutes of music so good, it's probably illegal”

InnovationStudios.com

“Set out to change the mentality that you have to be a certain way to be loved by God, Righteous B uses his lyrics and tight beats to reach out to a generation hooked on hip hop. A New York native - he balances being a Youth Minister with his duties as a Husband, Father and an emcee. His unique blend of Hip Hop often relies on elements of rock, which gives him a harder edgy sound. He spits lyric after lyric of bonafide truth over funk injected beats.”

Phatmass.com

“One of the best Catholic Rap CDs released to date! If more Catholic rappers would follow this lead, we'll be in for a major revival of Catholic rap music. Samples galore, smooth beats, with some rock elements thrown in for good measure. Inventive East Coast Catholic Rap for fans of Run-DMC, Outkast.”

Musilica.com

“Here is a fresh new flavor of Catholic music that hasn't been tried before. The appeal is sure to be broad. Go Righteous B!”

Crispin.com

“Jesus used parables to spread his word to his disciples and Righteous B uses rap to spread the message of Jesus to the kids of the 21st century. His work is helping blaze new trails in Catholic music.”

The Catholic Standard and
Times - Diocese of Philadelphia

"His music infiltrates the stereo of your car, and before you know it, you're thumping along with the revolution - that is the good news of Jesus. Righteous B is not only a great musician, but a wonderful man of God"

Matt Maher
Catholic Recording Artist

“Righteous B rocked the house so hard our kids still haven't come down. They are constantly begging me to bring him back”

Oscar Guzman - Diocesan Director
of Youth Ministry for Amarillo, TX

"Righteous B made Jesus Christ relevant to the kids of our school. His music and message really penetrated their hearts and their culture"

Melea Walden - Campus Minister
Jserra High School.
Orange County, CA - Multiple Press Clippings


Hip-hop Gospel message

By Mary Burroughs of The Catholic Post

Putting the Gospel message to a musical beat might not be what we need most, according to hip-hop artist Righteous B, who will be performing at the diocese-wide Youth Rally for Evangelization in Bloomington Nov. 5-6.
What we really need, he believes, is to encounter the Gospel message being lived.
He hopes that his music, instead of focusing on defending the faith, captures how his faith is a part of who he is.
“Rap is sharing your life,” Righteous B says. “In the midst of me sharing my life, I share the Catholic faith.”
Righteous B has been performing hip-hop for five years. His music career began when he was a youth minister in New York State.
“Kids weren’t responding to normal, traditional youth group kinds of things,” he told The Catholic Post this week.
His wife bought him a beat machine and he began writing rap.
“The kids just responded well to it,” he said. He has recorded two albums, called “Get the Kids to Revolt” and “Are You Ready for Righteous B?”
Influenced by artists as diverse as Arrested Development, The Roots, and Pope John Paul II, Righteous B rhymes about everything from being Polish, natural family planning, to Jesus’ victory over sin. Even guns, war, and violent themes aren’t left in the dust in Righteous B’s music.
Rather, he leads his listeners to understand what battle they should be participating in, the battle between the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of the Lord.
The second stanza of “Like an Escalade” sounds like gangsta rap: “Cock Cock goes the machine gun cause I always cock twice,” but B later reveals that “I use the mic as my pistol son I thought I told ya; You bess salute in the presence of a Jesus soldier.”
Through the music, Righteous B hopes to reach a wider audience then some Catholic artists.
“We have a long way to go in Catholic music,” he explained. The music itself has to be attractive to listeners.
 A lot of the kids at youth rallies are immersed in popular culture, and to “give them another cheesy song to sing around the campfire doesn’t work outside of the retreat,” he said.
This hip hop artist, also known as Bob Lesnefsky, is also a Life Teen youth minister at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Houston, Texas.
A long-lasting relationship with his parish youth pastor in Philadelphia, where Lesnefsky was raised, inspired him to want to serve God and share the love he has received.
He became involved in the youth group as a junior high student, and initially enjoyed retreats and youth rallies.
Through the mentorship of his youth leader, Lesnefsky was introduced to Christ and experienced God’s unconditional love.
“A cheesy phrase became reality,” he said about the change that took place in his teen years.
In his own apostolate, Lesnefsky wants to walk with teens the way his youth minister did with him.
“I feel like every good thing that comes in youth ministry comes from building a relationship with the kids,” he stated. “I think they just remember people that spend time sharing their lives with them.”
Lesnefsky will also be part of the “Bob and Bob” comedy show at the youth rally. Bob Rice, who will also provide music and speak at the rally, and Lesnefsky began performing together at a youth event when they were both youth ministers in New York.
The duo began when another event fell through, and audiences thought their improvisation was funny; not knowing the whole plan added to the experience.
It’s “a lot like walking in your faith,” he said, because there are many surprises, good and bad, in any Christian’s life. “In the midst of it, a beautiful story comes out” if we follow Christ.
 

Published by The Catholic Post
Copyright © 2004 The Catholic Post. All rights reserved.
- The Catholic Post


Reality JC

Seeing that Central Illinois is nowhere near either the East Side or the West Coast, I’ve had very little contact with the hip-hop/urban music scene. If you asked me to show you the C-walk or do the Harlem Shake, I’d probably look at you with the same disbelief as if you had just asked me to operate an eight-track player.
 
Imagine my shock at this year’s Youth Rally in Bloomington when Righteous B and his sizzle-slick sidekick The Critic took the mic and started laying down some of the illest beats ever to hit the Peoria Diocese. The crowd of over 200 youth were eating up every minute of his ghettolicious lyrics and bouncin’ right along with the Capital B. And even better, stop to listen to what Righteous is saying as he’s dropping his rhymes:
 
"Righteous got it made like an Escalade chrome, 24’s with the spinners, neon lights in the dome, ain't got a need for that jazz, but yo I'm shocking the fans when I'm rollin’ up the shows in my Dodge Caravan...I need that minivan space yo for my wife and three babies, see I didn't contracept nothin’, in fact my middle name's "open", and I'll be open to children, yeah ten or twelve we'll be hopin'."
 
The Youth Rally was part of this year’s Evangelization Congress, where Bishop Jenky and speaker Bob Rice stressed the importance of evangelizing through the way we live our daily lives. This is exactly the spirit that Righteous B strives to capture in each of his songs. Not every track on his album is a two and a half minute summary of Humane Vitae, in fact Kielbasa Posse is a ridiculously hysterical ode to Polish sausage. The B proves, however, that “it doesn’t have to be beads to be Catholic.” Righteous B uses hip-hop, humor and plenty of sick beats as a way to reach people and share the Gospel of Christ.
 
Righteous B, aka Bob Lesnefsky, hails all the way from the dirty south of Houston, Texas, where he is a youth minister with Saint Vincent de Paul Parish. He has started an urban outreach program that so far has lead over twenty inner city teens into the Catholic Church. He not only tears down the walls at his concerts, but then nourishes teens with a deeper message that carries on after the stage has gone dark and the equipment is packed up.
 
So if you see me driving through the ‘hood with the bass cranked up as high as my pimped-out ’96 Ford Taurus will go, I have not gone insane. I’m merely practicing my freestyle flow for the next time Righteous B comes back to the diocese to rock the hizzouse!
 
--- Text by Katrina “K-dizzle” Crone, CTC Youth Board Representative and Answer Panel Member

Righteous B
We loved Righteous B and hope he'll come back to the Peoria Diocese soon! The whole Youth Rally was awesome!!!
- Peoria Diocese


Inner city youth minister uses Hip-hop to preach the Gospel

Houston, Feb. 11, 2005 (CNA) - St. Francis of Assisi once said, “preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.” 27-year old Bob Lesnefsky’s motto isn’t too far off. “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use rap.”

Until a few years ago, Lesnefsky, or “Righteous B” as he is better known today, was working as a youth minister in an inner city New York parish and having little success. “They weren’t responding to traditional ways of preaching the gospel”, he says.

That’s when Lesnefsky decided to try something different. He’d always enjoyed listening to hip-hop but said that the kids he worked with were “absolutely saturated in it.”

“I wanted to enter into and fully understand their culture and so I just started listening to rap all the time.”

That when Righteous B was born. Late nights spent in his basement trying to lay down his first beats on admittedly “primitive gear” led to so much success with the kids that Lesnefsky decided to put out his first CD, Are you ready for Righteous B?

That has since led to a second CD, Get the Kids to Revolt, as well as concerts in venues around the country including the Steubenville High School Youth Conferences.

Lesnefsky’s influences include such varied individuals as Rich Mullins, LL Cool J and St. Maximilian Kolbe, who “used modern technology to preach the Gospel.”

His ministry is clearly working too. “There are tons of cool lil stories about kids responding in awesome ways to the music.” He especially loves the stories of kids opening up “who never responded to any kind of ministry experience before.”

In the same vein as St. Maximilian, who utilized the tools of modern culture to spread Christ’s message, Lesnefsky is quick to point out that the influence of hip-hop music is everywhere, “from McDonalds commercials to mainstream rock.”

Prior to turning to hip-hop, he spent years in and out of bands as a Christian singer/songwriter but now, thinks that, “the whole game is changing. Hip hop is at a different place and there are amazingly talented mc's all over the place [rapping] for the church.”

Although many associate rap and hip-hop with things like drugs and gangs, Lesnefsky is convinced that “people have had enough of that.” He is convinced that there are many incredibly talented Christian artists today who doing a big part to change that association.

Talkin’ bout a revolution
Pope John Paul II has been speaking for years about a “new springtime” for the Church – which Lesnefsky sees as a revolution. This “revolution” against what the Pope calls the “culture of death”, he notes, “needs to start with me. My heart needs to change.”

And at its heart, this is the message Righteous B is spreading to young people—to be a part of the spiritual revolution, the new springtime, that, he says the Church is “aching for.”

Although he now lives with his wife and three children in what he calls the “mean streets of suburban Houston,” Lesnefsky’s heart remains in the inner city.

One of his major ministry goals is the creation of a non-profit, aimed at trying to come up with effective ways to do ministry to urban teens. 10% of the proceeds of each of his records, in fact, goes to help inner city parishes.

“To us,” Lesnefsky says, “life is Christ; and ultimately, that’s the fullness of everything we want to be about.”

More information can be found on-line at www.Righteousb.com
- Catholic New Agency


1.Before you got into hip hop, you were an accomplished singer and
songwriter. What caused your shift to hip hop?


I don't know if it's accurate to say I was "an accomplished singer/ songwriter", though I did pen such classics as the "Growing Pains Theme Song" and "Bridge over Troubled Water".  Most people don't know about that chapter of my life and so I keep it tucked away in the shadows.   But as far as the shift to hip hop and all that - I was working in a real ghetto slice of New York doing youth ministry and rap was all my kids listened to.  I mean I always enjoyed listening to hip hop - but these peeps were saturated in it.  I would always joke around freestyling with them and they would laugh because I sucked (and still do!).  But one day, we were downtown and this guy had a beat machine.  He was making his own beats and rapping over them.  ...Well I fell in love (not with the guy, but the thought of maki ng my own stuff).  My wife bought me a beat machine for Christmas and I spent the next year in my basement till the wee hours of the morning every night dropping beats, rapping, even working with some old 70's turntables.  It was more of a fun thing than anything else...but I just kept writing songs - we'd be doing them during homilies and life nights.  It was cool using that kind of art to draw kids in.

2. Rap music mentions God more than any other music genre on the radio. And
at the same time, rap music is often violent, materialistic, and
disrespectful towards women. How did this happen?


I think the thing that draws people to hip hop (besides being something you can shake your body to) is it's authenticity.  Rap is the opposite of political America.  It's not some humble guy kissing babies thanking corporate America for sponsorship. - It's a guy with a mic - saying "look, this is about me - I made the album, I wrote the lyrics, pay me the money - this is my life".  Now that's not always a very pretty way to promote yourself - but the rock star who does the occasional "farm aid" concert is not really a whole lot better.  The problem comes when mc's start talking about drinking, smoking, shooting peeps up and then singing a song to Jesus on the same album.  I think it's hypocritical and it bugs me.  But it's really some guy living in major sin and still feeling a need for God that he w ants to respond to.  It's luke warm living.  But our church is full of people like that - people who lives of crazy sin and then show up to sit in a pew for an hour and feel all better.  These people are doing the same thing - they just know how to hide it better (namely not making a rap album about it)



3. Christian music comes in all flavors. There's endless Christian pop,
rock, punk, rap core, and even daeth metal. But still there are two genres
under represented in Christiam music: country and rap. What's your take on
that?



I think it's coming.  I don't know about country music (though I love Johnny Cash) - but Hip Hop music is taking over the world.  It's influence is everywhere from Mc Donalds commercials to mainstream rock.  I think more and more of it is coming up in Christian Music.  It's just for so long Christian rap was so corny.  Some guy like, "Carmen"  would write a "rap song" for his album and moms would buy it for their kids.  Meanwhile their kids were listening to Public Enemy and cheeziness of the Christian rap didn't do it for them.  But the whole game is changing - hip hop is at a different place and there are amazingly talented mc's all over the place spitting for the church. 

4. Music depends on pioneers keep things fresh and exciting. In hip hop
today, who are the pioneers? And who's doing the same old same old?


Like I said, the game is changing - I think people respond in a big way when artists start pushing the envelope of what hip hop is.  You got all kinds of ethnic people rapping, you got all kinds of instuments, and all kinds of breeding of other kinds of musical genre's with rap.  It's pretty cool.  Which is we are seeing 50 year old business men bopping to "Hey Ya!"  I think pioneers in hip hop are people being authentic to who they are - not just the gang banger stereotype.  People like Outkast, The Roots, Neptunes, Alicia Keys - are doing such innovative new things in the secular world (though not alway in the realm of sound lyrics). But we got some killer Christian artist doing their part in the hip hop world such as John Rueben, Mars Ill, Camp Quest, L.A. Symphony, Pigeon John.  I think people do ing the same old stagnant crap is anyone doing song after song about ice, cars, and booty.  People have had enough of that.  Some hip hop purists say hip hop is changing too much and is loosing it's roots - but they're dumb.

(please mention musical direction as well as lyrics)

5. Inside your liner notes, you have a retro-fitted senior yearbook picture.
Bemeath your mug it reads "Most Likely to be Black." I thought it was funny,
and it brou - www.LifeTeen.com


Discography

"Sweat Shop Sessions" 2006 Porch Rocking Records

"Get the kids to revolt" 2004 Dirty Vagabond Productions.

"Are You Ready For The Righteous B?" 2002 Dirty Vagabond Productions

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Who can ignore the juice and jurisdiction of rap music's influence on popular culture? In the last 5 years, hip-hop albums have dominated year-end sales, music awards, and radio stations. Its magnetism is manifest in everything from commercials, to fashion, to film stars. Hip-hop's powerful sway finds its hand in all genres of modern music- from rock to country. And no matter how remote, rural, or suburban a place might seem - there are always traces of hip-hop influence to be found. Regretfully, in a culture of young people starving for hope and truth - most of hip hop's influence leaves this generation with hearts that are hungry. Yet, as a hip-hop junkie, RIGHTEOUS B cherishes the channel where he can unleash the passionate, confrontational verses that charge his music.

Now, every artist's bio boasts transparency in his music - however RIGHTEOUS B punches it up a notch on the "keeping in real" meter, as the rawness of his music captures his heart. Says Righteous, "My music is a reflection of my personality. My life is there in the groove... my struggles, my emotions, my passions, and my stupidity are tucked into each album". However his CD's are sizably more than autobiographies. With an energy level on target to turn clubs topsy-turvy, plus lyric after lyric of bonafide truth - his music brings a freshness to the stale, zestless scene of hip-hop today. One of the fortes of the B's technique is his ability to blend different breeds and brands of hip-hop together into one traffic-stopping, head-bobbing hit. His sizzle-sick loops and meaty hooks serve up many unique creations - from bangin club anthems to the foot-stompin' pop fare.

Looking back, RIGHTEOUS B (Bob Lesnefsky as his mother calls him) spent many years in inner city New York as a youth minister where he cut his teeth in ministry and music. "It was here that I realized just how white I actually am. and at the same time how much I love hip-hop," says Righteous. After blundering through experiences of traditional youth ministry tactics and coming up dry, Bob started using hip-hop as a tool to share the gospel. Late nights working on primitive gear in the basement produced his rookie bow in 2001, ARE YOU READY FOR RIGHTEOUS B? Two years later, RIGHTEOUS B scored major industry recognition with the follow up release GET THE KIDS TO REVOLT. A host of accolades earned RIGHTEOUS B, Hip-Hop Album of the Year, along with, Rap Song of the Year for "Like an Escalade" at the 2004 Unity Awards.

In 2006, with the release of “SWEATSHOP SESSIONS”, RIGHTEOUS B established himself as a legitimate threat to the hip-hop scene with radio play on airwaves across the country - he also hit the road doing shows across North America alongside such top artists as Mars Ill, Bobby Bishop, Souljaz, Camp Quest, and LA Symphony. RIGHTEOUS B soon aligned himself with several spiritually minded organizations such as LIFE TEEN, The Steubenville Youth Conferences, and NCYC where he speaks to over 20,000 teens a year. Says Righteous, "You can call me a Christian rapper, a rapper who is Christian, or a bologna sandwich for all I care - I'm just a dude who is trying to find a forum to share his heart. The music we make is not extremely preachy - with every hook including the name of Jesus. It's aim, rather, is to authentically share our lives, our stories, and our passions: all of which are intertwined with the heart of Christ.

Our shows and records are centered around the voice of Jesus in John 10:10": "I have come that you might have life and have it to the fullest."

"To us - life is Christ. And ultimately that's the fullness of everything we want to be about."

Involvement with Inner-City Catholic Youth
A big part of Righteous B ministries is embracing and building up the Urban Catholic Church. For the most part, youth ministry programs fail to reach a critically important demographic of young people in America…inner city teenagers. And although a majority of the concerts we do are performed at suburban venues, each year Righteous B is committed to doing a portion of the concert's tour free for inner city churches and prisons. 10% of ALL booking fees and sales also go directly to fund inner city churches and develop effective programming to reach urban youth.

"My heart burns for the inner city Church" - Righteous B

BOOKING PHONE: 336-854-2901 PorchRocking Records