“This is a church kid’s dream where you can shake yo‘ ass and shake yo‘ feet and shake the devil off!” touted beloved QC innovator, creator, motivator, and percolator DJ Fannie Mae in an Instagram reel with renowned songwriter, recording artist, and entertainer Dennis Reed, Jr.
The video ends with a spirited shake and pop of the oh-so-familiar praise tool of the saints — the tambourine. This video and one of Jesus bopping to a remix of “Here I Am to Worship” while donning a white robe, sash, puffer jacket, and a NY cap were my worship experience appetizers for Sainted: A Trap Choir Party, an event held early in July at The Underground.
From the jump, Sainted had me in a chokehold. I remember seeing promo videos and behind-the-scenes footage during the pandemic of what looked like virtual praise-and-worship events served with a side of trap music and seasoned with saints. As it turns out, my eyes and ears weren’t deceiving me, because that’s exactly what Sainted is all about. It’s an immersive party that highlights the church experience through music like trap, old-school funk, soul, and hip-hop with DJ Fannie Mae, a true innovator, at the helm.
You’ve definitely heard of DJ Fannie Mae in convos about Durag Fest, aka the “Met Gala of Durags,” or when she was recently crowned the official DJ of our new sports club, Charlotte FC. But one thing I’ve learned watching the evolution of Fannie from when I first saw her spinning at L4 Lounge (RIP) to now is that it’s impossible to put boundaries on what she’s capable of. She’s not just your average DJ that others aspire to imitate without successful duplication, she is a curator and facilitator of experiences. And I can promise you, Sainted is like nothing like you’ve ever experienced before.
As a born-and-raised Southern Baptist who is well-versed in the bible study, Sunday school, morning service, fellowship, evening service, and then service at a guest church routine (rinse and repeat) I, too, am a self-proclaimed “church kid.” For a child that didn’t quite feel like she belonged in church, who battled the strict rules, and who was reprimanded regularly for “questioning God,” the music was my silver lining.
The way a single note could bring anyone to their knees. How choir directors played with rhythm. The game of cat and mouse between sopranos, altos and tenors. The sweat and (literal) tears put into every song. The overwhelming emotion of “the spirit moving” well after a song concluded. All of it created an indescribable feeling that laid the foundation of my relationship with a higher power. Now blend that with my favorite “doing hoodrat things with my friends” bops and ya girl was sold!
The choir stepped on stage dressed in their Trap Sunday Best, from hot pink Bantu knots and intricate floral boot creations to bucket hats and a suit made of tangerine dreams. But let not your eyes distract you, this choir did not come to play. Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmare,” Boosie Badazz’s “Wipe Me Down,” Weezy F Baby’s “Mrs. Officer,” the Proud Family theme song, the Girlfriends theme song, I could go on forever. The doors opened at 8 and they were still going hard at 11:22. But my favorite?! “Knuck If You Buck” by Crime Mob (hoe). That chorus breakdown almost had me shouting! *One hand in the air, one on the hip, child.*
Don’t worry seasoned saints, there were some gospel snacks for you, too. “Encourage Yourself” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers was followed by a message that made me put my cup down and go grab not one but two WWJD bracelets and a tatted Obama church fan.
Donald Lawrence himself, who unbeknownst to me reps the 704 and was honored during the event, popped on stage and spoke blessings into the work that Fannie Mae is doing. “I think you’re really onto something. And it’s a way to speak to people in their own language. I mean, those of us that come from another era, we got to realize that they’re some people that are never, ever going to come to church. They don’t want to come if it stifles them … so we have to speak to them where we speak to them.”
Sainted really is a dream come true for this church kid. All the good “church” music, none of the stuffy judgment. It pushes against the boundaries that once felt so stiff and flips praise and worship on its head, creating something that draws those far away into the bosom of faith.
The only sin you may have to worry about is coveting thy fly neighbor DJ Fannie Mae. Can I get an, “Amen?!” Church hats off to you, Sainted.