HAZAKIM: the Story of Anthony & Michael Wray
In a world where kids’ role models are too busy indulging in unhealthy practices to be concerned about the future generations they are affecting, it is refreshing to meet brothers Anthony and Michael Wray who bring the message of Jesus Christ through the medium of hip-hop music.
Founded in 1997, their band Hazakim (pronounced ha-zah-keem), which in Hebrew means ‘strong ones,’ just released their second album, titled Theophanies, on June 23rd. Blending lyrics with stringed instruments, electronic mixes, and the voices of theologians, Hazakim creates one-of-a-kind music laying biblical truths over tracks and leaving a lasting impact on their listening audience. Each track contains the message of the Messiah and his work as seen throughout the Old Testament and in their lives as believers.
While hip-hop has been an influence from the beginning, it is the faith which filters their opinions and worldviews to create their poetry infused music. Their formative years were involved in the Messianic Judaic movement, a group consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who follow Christ, similar to the early church of the disciples.
“Hazakim was birthed out of a challenge to our faith,” says Anthony. “Mike and I were sitting in a co-worker’s car during a lunch break. This guy was somewhat skeptical of our faith and was always trying to trap us with difficult questions. He told us that he had something he wanted us to hear. So he plays a song by a Los Angeles rapper which basically made a lot of claims about the validity of Scripture and the historical Jews. After just a few minutes of listening, Mike said, ‘Let me respond to this,’ and writes our first song, ‘Liar, Lunatic, Lord or Legend.’ The track created some buzz and the rest is history.”
Their first album, Hip-Hologetics: A Defense of the Faith through the Medium of Hip-Hop Culture, garnered a loyal underground fan base. This second album addresses the deity of the Messiah, which is a “hot topic in theological discourse” according to Anthony.
In 2007, the brothers signed with Philly-based label Lamp Mode Recordings, (http://www.lampmode.com/) which produced this album with distribution through Infinity Music Distribution in such familiar places as iTunes and Amazon.com. “It’s a perfect match, really,” explains Michael. “Lamp Mode’s niche is our niche…underground style hip-hop with an emphasis on God and biblical theology.”
With so many artists, even those claiming to be Christians, living lives that are not in accordance with the Word of God, the character and respect generated by the boys of Hazakim will surely stand out like a light against the darkness in the music industry.
“We don’t have any expectations other than to glorify God and see lives changed,” says Anthony. “If we can accomplish this with his help, the album will have been a success!”
Jaimie Engle is a wife, and mother of two small boys. Between homeschooling her oldest and keeping up with a baby, she uses every opportunity that she finds to work on her writing. She resides in Melbourne, FL, with her family.