Fr. Stan Fortuna, Rapping Reverend, Releases Third Hip Hop CD
july 20 2006 • Written by Jon Minners for bronx times
Would you dare to compare and become aware/How the poison from the world is your deepest nightmare/Ya'll can upgrade your computer with the latest software/Still won't have the power in you to keep you hangin in there/Too many people caught in the cultural snare; wanna be a millionaire/All the dough from my CD's go to the poor to help ‘em get off welfare…
The song, “Hanging in There,” is from the latest CD entitled Sacro Song 3. Catchy enough to be heard on any mainstream Hip Hop station, listeners may actually find it surprising to discover that the words and the entire CD come from the Bronx' own Rapping Reverend.
Taking an interesting path in life, south Bronx resident and community activist Fr. Stan Fortuna, has released countless CDs, including jazz and other musical genres. Sacro Song 3 is his third rap CD; an attempt to transform the perceived negativity of Hip Hop culture into something positive and an opportunity to preach the gospel to the youth through what is currently the most popular musical genre today, as evidenced by Billboard charts.
“This is something I've been doing since the mid-80's,” he said. “I like to call it rhythm and rhyme and it comes out when I preach and talk. There is a rhythm and flow that people catch on to and I am not even trying. I imagined how it would sound if I sat down and put work into it. Some may call it a novelty act, but if you listen to the lyrics; it's all about what is being said. There is a powerful and intense message in my words.”
Being an independent artist who sells songs on iTunes, Amazon.com and CD Baby, among other sites and Christian outlets, Fortuna's message does not get watered down by mainstream, corporate America. “There is no compromising of my message,” he said. “What is in my heart is coming out of his mouth.”
The Rapping Reverend hardly pulls any punches with his lyrics or his message. On one song, “Never Been Born,” released in 1997, Fortuna raps a pro-life message, speaking for the child that has been aborted. What about my father?/He gave me no protection/Aborted my conception/The world and nations is in need of new direction/They make it political/Time is gettin' critical/Daddy, tell the world abortion ain't just physical/You call us a fetus?/You can't defeat us/Daddy stand up, face the truth because ya need us/Break down the politic/Crack down the heretic/Be a man/Face the pain/ Stop the rhetoric.
“That's the only time I came across someone who didn't like what I had to say,” said the priest. “It shook her up. It wasn't about the rap. She couldn't deal with the content. It was too controversial to her, but I could respect where she was coming from. Another woman just read the lyrics and broke out in tears. God reached her and I try to be his servant. I do the best I can.”
Many of the songs on his new album were inspired by Fortuna's experiences in the Bronx. When he isn't on the road performing concerts and giving talks in such places as Europe, Canada , the Uganda , the Caribbean or throughout the United States , he ministers to the needy in the area. Currently, he is in the process of building the South Bronx Youth Cultural Centre, a facility that aims to encourage neighborhood youth to develop viable arts skills for the work place.
“It's about giving kids a place to go where they can elevate and maximize their potential,” said Fortuna about the facility that houses DVD cameras, programs like Final Cut Pro, DJ equipment and more. “The kids in this community have talents; gifts that need to be explored and shared.”
One youth has airbrushed T-shirts that Fortuna helps him sell on his website at www.francescoproductions.com where he also sells a majority of his music. Other teens are working on an e-mag. “Ima Do Me,” a song on Sacro Song 3 is the rest of two aspiring young rappers' efforts, youth director Sean Santiago and Glenda Mortoral, both of whom attend the facility. The song deals with their issues growing up in the ghetto.
Other songs on the CD include “Daddy Wound,” which deals with the lack of a father figure in many people's lives and how that affects their outlook. “Got the Mike On” is an ode to old school Hip Hop, which Fortuna credits for some of his inspiration, along with Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Bach and his teacher Lenny Tristano.
The CD also contains the jazz/funk inspired “Ain't No Party,” which discussed the doctrine of the Catholic faith that is a consistent threat throughout the album. “Jesus Talks” is actually a response to the Kanye West hit “Jesus Walks.” “He did a song about Christianity and then went and did a song called ‘Gold Digger,'” Fortuna notes. “So I wrote this song. I am not going after him. I am reaching out to him. Yes, Jesus walks, but Jesus talks, too, and you need to listen.”
All proceeds from Sacro Song 3 and other CDs, DVDs, concerts and talks will go towards Francesco Productions, his non-profit organization that does hands-on work with poor and needy families in the South Bronx through such endeavors as the South Bronx Youth Cultural Centre.
Fortuna is proud of his work and encourages others to take a listen. “I wanted to challenge the perceived, stereotypical notion that rap music cannot be redeemed and used to elevate contemporary culture,” he said. “The power of love, regardless of musical genre, can break any barrier, scale any way – it is stronger than death. Sacro Song 3 offers hope and empowers people to look upward – to what I believe and know is a better future.”