The Interviewer is interviewed… Peep it as Pastor Alex Pagani aka “Preach Dat Fire” sits down and speaks with Holyculture.net about his pastoral role and hosting the very popular internet radio show “HollaFest Radio”.
Shine: For the readers who may not be familiar with you, why don’t you give us a little of your background on how you got started.
Preach Dat Fire: Well to make a long story short, I got saved in prison while serving a 3-9 year prison term. I ended up doing 6 years out of the 9 and about a year and a half into my prison sentence I had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ in my cell. I had a literal open manifestation or encounter where He actually walked into my cell and I heard Him say the very words He said to Matthew. He said to me “Follow Me…” and I knew that it was Jesus Christ who was actually speaking to me. Prior to that I had some form of religious instruction because I was catholic at that time, but God had always brought true born again believers across my path especially during my prison term. The correctional officers were born again and they would evangelize to me during my stay there. So I knew that it was Christ who was speaking to me and right there in my prison cell I got on my knees and repented of my sins and I asked Christ to forgive me. From that moment on I completely began to just live for Christ and study my bible. Eventually I was released after 6 yrs later. I joined the church, got involved in ministry, finished bible school and ended up getting called to the pastorate and here I am 17 years later doing what I do. I’m giving you a synopsis of the long journey I’ve had up until now. (Laughs)
Shine: Your ministry is known for being “cutting edge”. What makes your ministry any different from other ministries/radio shows?
Preach Dat Fire: By default there are a couple of things that do make us unique and one is that our radio show is completely bilingual. There’s nobody really at this time in the genre that has a full bilingual Spanish and English Christian hip hop radio show. Second, what makes our radio show unique is that I’m a real ordained minister and senior pastor of a church. So my radio show is not guided from a member who is part of a local fellowship under a covering, but its actually coming from a pastor who is the covering of the members and the parishioners that the Lord has given me, who happens to be a genuine hip hop fan. I’m a genuine fan of the culture I don’t just use it as a tool to effectively reach the lost as some pastors do (and that’s great) but after the evangelistic endeavors I’m a genuine fan of the music, I listen to the music.
Shine: So do you think it’s more effective to be a “genuine fan” of CHH as oppose to just using it for evangelistic purposes?
Preach Dat Fire: I’ve seen the effectiveness in that (pauses) the community where our church is located is a predominately hip hop driven community. I think it give me a slight edged when it comes to reaching the inner-city lost because it’s not someone coming from the outside using a method and has no understanding of the culture yet uses it as a way to win people. And I’m not saying that it makes me any better or any less, I believe that every church should use them to where God has called them to its fullest potential. It’s going to be effective if there going to do whatever God has called them to do. But when it comes to the community where I’m located at, I’m being looked at as “Okay this is not only a pastor who’s trying to win me to his church, but this dude genuinely understands the things that I like…” (Pauses) So I wouldn’t say effectiveness but it gives me a little bit more relevance.
Shine: You’ve interviewed quite a few artists. So over the years what are some of the positives and negatives that you’ve seen?
Preach Dat Fire: Well it depends. Negatively, because we’ve interviewed so many artists in the genre, I think that many assumed that our motives were for sensationalism rather than true journalism. It was assumed that for a long time we were just looking for hot stories for ratings rather than a genuine concern and dialogue with those interviewed. And it took us a while to break out of that because in the beginning we went in hard, we were asking tough questions but it was from a journalistic pastoral perspective and I think that many assumed it was sensationalism. I think after a while that people began to realize that this dude is genuinely asking good questions and were beginning to enjoy the show.
Shine: What are some of the positives that you’ve seen?
Preach Dat Fire: One positive is that I think we’ve had some great interviews where a lot of artists were given the platform to share their hearts on what they really believed concerning the questions or misconceptions pertaining to the things that the CHH community had been meaning to ask, but never had an opportunity to. We’ve seen that through the interviews, a lot of the artists were able to effectively communicate why they do what they do. From there a lot of the stereotypical misconceptions toward their ministries were broken. For example, when we did the 116 interview we asked, “Why did it appear as if they didn’t collaborate more frequently outside of there camp?” At the time when we asked them, it was the hottest topic and they were able to effective share some of their ministry methods and a lot of the misconceptions were broken after that.
Shine: So what was one of the most enjoyable interviews for you?
Preach Dat Fire: Of the top, Bizzle! (Laughs) Even until this day on our Youtube account it gets the most hits. None of the comments are negative, I still get hit up by a lot of artists saying that on that interview, they didn’t hear Preach Dat Fire but they heard Pastor Alex. They heard a genuine pastor reaching out to a young brother in the faith who might’ve been a little rough around the edges yet at the same time we were able to cover him with love and support. I think that to this day that has been our star interview.
Shine: How does HollaFest Radio go about selecting which artist to interview?
Preach Dat Fire: Well let me clarify, HollaFest Radio is not a mix show or a pod-cast per say. HollaFest Radio is a talk show. It’s a talk show that incorporates some of the things that would make a great mix show. But it’s not necessarily vice versa. Rather the talk show is the focal point and like other talk shows we usually set up the interviews. It’s very rare that we take request because our show is a talk show and were not interviewing an artist, were having dialogue with an artist. We do get submissions and we do listen to them as much as we can but it’s very rare that we actually take a request for an interview. We do take them when an artist has an album dropping and we do promote artist strictly musically, but most of the time our shows are set up prayerfully looking into who be a great guest. And let’s just be real, a lot of times we just go to some of the websites and see whose hot now and who the hot topic is. Most of the time, our interviews are usually with artist who may have some things surrounding their ministry that may need clarification.
Shine: Okay now this is your opportunity, what is a “Fake Church Gangsta”? (Laughs)
Preach Dat Fire: (Laughs) Alright drum roll please! A “Fake Church Gansta” is a humorous way of telling someone that they are acting way out of character. Because you know a Christian can’t be a gangster. It’s inconsistent with Christ like character. So when Christians act out of character it’s my funny way of saying “Yo, stop being a fake church gangsta”. It helps them to think and realize that what they’re doing is oil and water. It doesn’t mix and it’s inconsistent with what the word says. It’s never meant to offend and is always done in a humorous manner and it’s become the catch phrase in holy hip hop not just HollaFest but everybody’s saying it.
Shine: Any final words?
Preach Dat Fire: Definitely. We know that a lot of people have been wondering what’s going on with the show. It’s been about 4 months since we’ve done any consecutive weekly pod-casts and we just want to let the readers know that were still here. What we’ve been doing is just some soul searching and re-adjusting some of our motives. We also decided in 2011 to just go viral so you’ll be seeing more video rather than audio and a lot more concerts. So in case you’ve been asking what’s been going on with Preach and Sista Shorty Blaze, we’re still here. I just been focusing more on my church and hope you guys understand that my first priority is to God and my second is my family. Then third is to be that spiritual father figure in the lives of the parishioners that God has given to me. But, my fourth ministry is to you the fans and faithful listeners of HollaFest Radio. We love you.
Shine: Well Preach, on behalf of Holyculture.net, thank you for taking this time out to speak with us and continued success.
Written by Shine