Special to the Journal
It’s not everyday that hip hop and Christianity come together, but that’s exactly what happens when Garret “GNasty” Snyder takes the stage.
Snyder, 23, is gaining popularity for his inspirational, heart-wide-open lyrics set to music he customizes in the studio with the help of local producers. New to performing, he recently put out a demo CD and is in the process of recording his first full-length CD, “My Testament,” set for release by year’s end. He is scheduled to perform at FlintFest in Albany on Oct. 1.
Friends and family are still amazed when they hear his work, showcasing a talent that came from out of nowhere. Snyder was deeply imbedded in the local music scene with many friends in many bands. His first performance was really just a spoof, something fun to do with a couple of the guys. But the high energy from being on stage and connecting with an audience was enough to get him hooked.
Growing up, Snyder was a fan of classic hip hop, a genre that he says has changed a great deal over the past decade – and not necessarily for the better. “I like to bring my favorite elements of that old style into the music I’m making today,” he said.
He admires the likes of Jay-Z, Run DMC, and Notorious B.I.G., taking elements of those artists’ styles and mixing them with today’s favorites such as Lecrae, Yelawolf, Wiz Khalifa and Canton Jones.
Snyder’s lyrics come from internalized struggles he and friends faced growing up in southwest Georgia. Challenges such as depression, feelings of isolation, an inability to find his direction and witnessing friends’ addictions and family problems all contribute to his work. But through it all, one thing remained strong: his faith.
“My music is an outpouring of emotion that became my escape from a battle with depression,” he said, noting that after years of hiding the symptoms of depression, he recently sought help and is seeing some relief. “As dark as things would get, I knew God had given me this talent for a reason. I owed it to Him and others struggling with the same problems to put myself and my music out there.”
Outspoken about his faith and Straight Edge lifestyle, Snyder often shares his testimony during a show, his message one to which both believers and non-believers can relate. Though not based on Christianity, Straight Edge is a sub-culture dedicated to living a “poison free” life, void of alcohol, drug and tobacco use as well as promiscuity.
When money isn’t the goal, art can be freely expressed without being second-guessed, he said. If something in his lyrics or a performance hits home for someone facing the loneliness of depression and thoughts of suicide, he feels his time and financial investment is well spent. His motivational lyrics deliver the message that none of us are alone and help is always available.
“Giving others the strength to pull themselves out of the mire, to fight to see another day is more reward than any amount of money could provide,” said Snyder.
A compassionate young man, Snyder is moved by the plight of the world, disturbed by ongoing wars, hungry children, hate, greed, and the violence portrayed in mainstream media. His message for change rings true in his single “Coming Home.”
This nation is falling apart for all of us to see.
It’s time to stand up and be all you can be.
United we stand, divided we fall;
we’re falling fast, so wake up and answer the call.
Thousands of lives lost for our freedom;
I bleed stars and stripes and live for that reason.
How can you stand by and watch all this happen?
Better yourself, don’t dwell on who you have been…
We’re quick to complain when something doesn’t go our way, while fellow Americans struggle to see another day.
Sometimes life gets rough, trust me I’ve been in your shoes,
I know what it’s like to feel you have nothing to lose.
But you’re wrong; I guarantee this world needs you.
I’ll take you by the hand and make you a believer.
Snyder is also a strong believer in remembering where he came from and the people who helped him get where he is as depicted in his single “Dirty South.”
“I’m proud to say I grew up in Lee County and the Albany area,” he said. “There is a lot of talent here, a lot of opportunity, and I’m excited to be part of that.”
To learn more about GNasty and to hear some of his music, visit www.facebook.com/gnastymusic. You can also follow him on Twitter @gnastymusic.