“Catacomb Muzik: Vol. 1”, the latest offering for the Tampa-based Catholic school teacher and dad of 9, is a four-track effort and features collaborations with a number of fellow African Americans, including the album’s co-creator Melvin “RabelzTheMC” Windley.
“In the early 2000s, rap artists of the Roman Catholic faith began emerging. Today, a number of active Catholic rappers and DJs are involved in what is known as the Catholic hip-hop scene,” the album intro notes.
It adds that the genre’s status as an underground scene within an underground scene—Christian rap generally—inspired the title of the EP, originally announced in 2019.
The album’s tracks include “Rosary”, “On Eagle’s Wings” (a reworking of a popular hymn, released as a single last year), “Bread of Life” (also put out as a single), and “Anything He Gives”, which features New Jersey-based Black Catholic rapper David “Kolt Kodesh” Hyman.
Windley, featured on all four tracks, is an NYC-based artist and father who has made a name for himself in Catholic hip-hop since his conversion in 2005. He began rapping with a devotion to the Divine Mercy in 2014.
His popular track that year entitled “Novena” became a viral hit, with the music video racking up over 21,000 views on YouTube and gaining him international attention and acclaim in Catholic media.
(Earlier that same year, Levi himself released one of the most-viewed Catholic rap videos on YouTube, of his song “Real Presence”.)
Windley has since released two albums, including 2018’s “MCMXXXI”, and was featured that same year at the 2018 Eucharistic Convention in Auckland, New Zealand alongside Fr Rodney “Tony” Ricard, a Black priest from New Orleans.
Windley’s latest musical appearance before today’s release with Levi was on the song “Every Day”, released last year by Joshua “Jcooly” McHoul.
The new joint album with Levi is available on streaming platforms everywhere.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).