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Devine Carama searches for faith on “Worshipping in the Wilderness”

How do you keep your faith when navigating life feels like being lost in a forest?

That’s the question that Lexington hip-hop artist and community activist Devine Carama seeks to answer on his new album, “Worshiping in the Wilderness.”

WRFL’s Local Music Director Allison Pin was able to catch up with Devine Carama to talk about his new album and his thoughts on Lexington’s Black Lives Matter protests.

“My projects really just start with a thought,” said Carama, when asked about his brainstorming process. “I could be driving, or I could be at work and start just with one bar in my head.”

Carama created his new album entirely during the quarantine.

“The initial theme of the album was the disparity and, you know, how it was impacting the black community,” said Carama.
As time went by and the quarantine days continued, the album evolved.

Carama lost his teenage daughter on Easter this year. He reflected on his loss with this album.

“Wilderness is kind of this barren place,” he said. “It grows, and it’s dark. I feel like, me personally, and a lot of people in my community are in a wilderness right now.”

The new album is about maintaining faith and being able to worship even in “the wilderness.” Carama said creating this album has been therapeutic for him throughout these past few months. He wants his experiences of pain and joys to impact other people and ultimately help listeners with what they are going through.

Most of Carama’s projects are focused on community and his looking outward to help uplift others. But “Worshipping in the Wilderness” is extremely personal.

“There were no times where I was just wasting bars… I felt like the entire project meant something.”

Carama says that as a “girl dad” he tried to gear a lot of the album towards young women.

“Normally, with a hip-hop album, they’re not speaking to women and if they are it’s not in a fashion that I would be proud of, you know, for my daughter.”

Carama says a lot of youth programming is focused on boys and leaves girls behind. He wanted to focus on subject matter for girls who are trying to navigate the social media age. That theme appears on the track “Social Media Dreams” which features vocalist Jaidah Ollice.

Carama said “Worshipping in the Wilderness” would not have been complete without the help of his friend JK-47. JK-47 is a local music producer who has collaborated with Devine Carama on other projects before.

“He’s my brother, you know, he’s one of my best friends,” said Carama. “So having somebody like that, that accountability. Having somebody who actually cares about when you’re creating and putting something together something so personal. And somebody who knew my daughter and is going through a lot of the things I’m going through. Our personal relationship is what this album what it was.”

One of the songs on the album, “Full Energy, No Drugs,” is also the name of an app that Carama is a spokesman for. The app was created for opioid prevention education.

“Instead of calling it a war on drugs, it’s kind of an oasis for people dealing with addiction and educating people so they don’t fall into addiction,” said Carama.

As a public advocate, Carama said he is heartbroken by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other victims of racism.

“I think for the first time in my lifetime, we are no longer looking at these issues through the lens of politics… but this is happening so much that people are finally just seeing the right and wrong to it.”

Carama said he has been on the frontlines of many of the protests that have been happening in downtown Lexington.

“The blessing isn’t always in the outcome, but actually in the process and what you learn in the grime,” said Carama. He said the main message he wants people to take away from “Worshipping in the Wilderness” and what is going on in the world today is to continue tapping into your hope and faith even when you are in dark places.

Devine Carama’s new album “Worshiping in the Wilderness” is available now.