It was a Saturday night in Clinton. A police car cautiously circled the Holiday Inn Express parking lot, wary of the thumping beats emanating from a rear entrance. A heavyset man shuffled out to meet the cruiser; he might have seemed imposing if not for the rapturous smile that never left his face.
“How ya doin’?” he called out with good cheer. The cops recognized him, gave a wave and moved along, confident that all was good at the motel tonight.
Those thumping beats traced a path back to the birthday party of 8-year-old Di’Mariya Baskin. By all appearances, the setting resembled any other pre-teen affair: Festive birthday bunting hung over aluminum trays filled with hot links, chili, cheese and chips. Children in pink shirts and sparkles filled the room, and a rising mountain of gifts overtook a table against the back wall. The scene seemed incongruous with the heavy rhythm tracks pumping through the small room, but perhaps that’s the point of a holy hip-hop party.
Headlining the event was Di’Mariya’s father, Di’Marco Baskin—aka TwiceborN—a friend of Clinton cops and a nationally renowned Christian rapper. After the attendees were all accounted for, he took center stage with his fellow holy hip-hoppers Wun80 and True…