16 Songs, 51 Minutes

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About Sir The Baptist

William James Stokes (aka Sir the Baptist) channels the sound of hip-hop, gospel, and R&B into his own form of holistic music, aiming to heal the world through religion and sound. Born in Bronzeville, Chicago, where he was raised as one of 22 children, Stokes took to music from a young age -- he started learning the piano at six and by ten had taken up drums. He regularly played at his church, where his father was a prominent Baptist leader; his mother was a missionary. Initially, Stokes found a job working for an ad agency, Leo Burnett, but before long he quit to pursue music full-time. He funded his musical venture by driving a cab part-time and sleeping in his car. After years of struggle, Stokes recorded and released his debut single, "Raise Hell," in 2015 and was signed to Atlantic Records. The single was nominated for Impact Track of the Year at the BET Awards in 2016, thrusting him into the public eye. Stokes' holistic hip-hop caught the public's imagination, leading to a string of bookings in 2016; most notably an appearance at Lollapalooza, where Stokes performed his set from inside of a coffin -- a visual metaphor for Chicago's ongoing problems with gun crime. After Stokes left the stage, Jay-Z approached him to offer words of encouragement, and invited him to open for Beyoncé at the Tidal X 1015 event in October. By 2017, Stokes was ready to release his debut album, Saint or Sinner, which featured a number of guest artists, including Ray J, Killer Mike, and Brandy, the latter of whom he had met and fallen in love with in the previous year. ~ Liam Martin

HOMETOWN
Chicago, IL
GENRE
Hip-Hop
BORN
July 2, 1987

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