'The Grip' hopes to grab listeners with Christian rap

05:00 AM, Dec 26, 2012

Dorian 'Bass' Cromwell, left, and Bryan Little developed an online Christian rap music show. (Provided photo)/

Written By Tianna Manon

Christian rap music may not be the most popular musical genre among Rochester youths, but Bryan Little, 39, and Dorian “Bass” Cromwell, 31, are hoping to change that with their new show, The Grip Music Video Show, better known simply as The Grip.

The Grip is an online music show that plays 30 minutes of Christian rap music Mondays at 6 p.m. at thegripshow.com. In addition to the music videos, Jonathan “Clarke Kent” Clarke, the show’s host, interviews Christian rap artists.

They describe their targeted audience as the viewers of 106 and Park, a show on Black Entertainment Television that shows the top 10 hip-hop and R&B music videos with the most votes from viewers daily.

The show broadcasted its first episode in September. Since being uploaded to the site, it has received more than 300 episodes. Their Twitter account for the show already has more than 250 followers, and Little estimates that the account gets five more followers every day.

Little and Bass grew up in Buffalo just two streets away from each other. However, it wasn’t until more than 25 years and 70 miles later that they first met at Faith Temple church. Little, and his wife, Tameakia, were children ministry directors and worked directly with Bass’ daughter, Dallas, now 10.

They began to work together, combining their passion for youths, God and music. “We’d been talking about working together for years,” said Little. The Grip Show gave them an outlet to combine their two talents.

As for the name, it was the idea of Johnny “DJ Cov” Ohrenstein. It was slang very popular in the 1980s and ’90s, according to Bass and Little. It means to have an abundance of something, usually cash.

Or in their case, God.

Little’s sister-in-law Samara Lane, 22, of Rochester remembers when she was first asked to watch the episode.

I actually thought, ‘I hope it’s not corny,’ ” she said, laughing. “But then I watched it, and realized it’s really good because it’s not something that you see every day. Especially in Rochester, you don’t get the gospel every day here.”

Seven people help with the show: Little and Bass, Tameakia Little, Lane, Tanysha Pitts, Clarke Kent and Kent’s wife, Keisha Clarke (both of whom live in Buffalo). When recording episodes, only Kent, Little and Bass are on scene.

According to Little, the show has no set studio. “The location is the character,” he said.

Often they couldn’t get guests, and definitely couldn’t afford to fly guests to Rochester. The crew has been as far as the Bronx, inside churches and barbershops. They plan to travel to St. Louis and Syracuse and even travel outside of the U.S. for an international show.

The change in setting keeps viewers interested, according to Bass. “None of our shows look the same,” he said, “and our viewers respond to that.”

In the spring, The Grip hopes to make the move to television. Currently, Bass and Little are in discussion with a local channel to find the show a home.

There’s a demand for (Christian hip-hop), but there isn’t a lot of supply,” says Little. “We have to be the supply for that demand.”