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Meet the Real Chris Greenwood, known as rap/hip-hop artist Manafest
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Light the Fire Again

By Lisa Hall-Wilson

JUNO nominated Chris Greenwood, known as rap/hip-hop artist Manafest, has worked hard to get where he is. He tells the compelling story of his own childhood, his father’s suicide, and being raised by a single mother in his new book Fighter. Greenwood is quick to credit his mentors, hard work, and his faith in God for every blessing in his life and success he's enjoyed as an artist.

You grew up in a Christian home, but when did your faith become your own? When did your faith become something that was a part of your everyday life?

[As a teen] I went to a Bible camp for a week and really unplugged from everything. All of a sudden you're hearing two hours of preaching a day and worshiping. It was an atmosphere where God can speak to you. I came home and made some changes, made some decisions about how I was going to live my life. Got rid of some stuff - stuff I was listening to and looking at. Just got serious about my faith and who I represent.

In another interview you talk about "being on a mission." What do you see as your life's purpose?

The music, the books, the podcast, everything, is a platform to share God's love. I might not preach all the time but I have a platform to share my story and what Jesus has done in my life. I'm not a preacher, but I’ve been called to encourage and inspire people to pursue their own dreams. To bring people back to God, pull them out of a dark place and back to Jesus.

Christian music and rap don't seem like a natural fit. Rap music, for lack of a better word, often seems...angry. Your music and new book tackles some difficult issues like bullying and suicide, but always with a positive message.

Sometimes mainstream artists talk about the problem, hey, this is happening, this is what I went through, but they can’t always provide a solution. The Christian artist can give an answer at the end of the day. We point them to something and give guidance.

I challenge people. Let's put our fears aside, pick up faith and do something with your life. What did you do with those talents, those gifts, those dreams and things in your heart? Not just trade it for a small dream but a big dream and do something awesome.

I think words are powerful. A lot of people do listen to the lyrics and those words are having an impact. I want those words to relate. There's a way to be aggressive without being dark with your words. That's where the art comes in.

You travel a lot. How do you stay strong in your faith? How do you keep your marriage strong?

For the majority of my marriage I've been on the road. Don't know if I agree with that lifestyle. Having my first child in a few weeks. Excited about that. It's not easy. Seen a lot of divorce and heart ache. I want to protect my marriage. I didn't make a covenant with the music industry, I made a covenant with my wife. I think you can achieve goals and do great things, but you don't have to do it at the cost of your family.

I listen to a lot of podcasts because we're not in church when we’re travelling. Talking [to my wife] each day. I set boundaries. I don't hug girls. Some guys don't like to room with me because I won't turn on the TV or I unplug it. I don't go places after shows, I go back to the hotel.

Do you find it difficult to stay humble?

I have close friends who keep me in check. I don’t feel like I struggle with that too much. I’m not big on awards. I have my own internal goals that I get a kick out of. I'm very entrepreneurial minded - what's the next thing. I saw other artists who wouldn't take advice. Sometimes, as artists, we want to do it all our way. Those who have a team around them go a lot farther.

This life is a dream come true for me. I have other goals, but I want to step back and enjoy where I am right now. I’m always looking to go on to the next thing, but I want to stop and smell the roses.

Your book Fighter was released in fall 2013. Why should readers pick up this book?

We wanted to make it an inspirational read. Short to read through and still have impact. Not easy to put down. Inspire people to think. This is a book about writing down your dreams and goals, and creating your own road map for success.

People of all ages have said the book stirred them up. "I gotta get out there and do something great with my life." My fan base is the younger crowd, but the principles apply to all ages.

What can fans expect from your new CD out in April?

The Moment is a combination of the rock and rap again, but with more rap. A real hybrid. I think it's our most passionate record. I'm real transparent on this album. There's a love song on there. Woah! There's one song called "Cage" that talks about breaking out of the cage we keep ourselves in. There's another one where I talk about perseverance, overcoming. Some of the tracks are just party jams and fun to rock out to.

For more information about Manafest and his work, visit www.manafest.ca.