Ex-Sooner puts down pads, picks up mic
In 2004, if you had told Vince Carter he’d be rapping for a living, he might have looked at you with the same expression a toddler gives an adult right after soiling his pants.
Seven years ago, Carter was a four-year starter and All-American center for OU’s football team. He was the linchpin in an offensive line that blocked for Heisman Trophy winner Jason White and played in two BCS national championships games.
Today, Carter uses his unique verbal skills to perform gospel rap music.
“I started by just writing poetry,” Carter said. “At first it was whack to me — offensive linemen aren’t supposed to write poetry — and then I got into the open-mic scene in Houston, and I fell in love with it.”
Carter became serious about pursuing his music career in 2007. He then met up with Josh Norman, former Sooner running back and member of the 2000 national champion team, and Sh’Pone Harris.
The threesome formed Sunz of Thunda, a gospel rap group that performed its first concert in January 2007 at a small venue in Oklahoma City, and has been touring the country ever since.
But the road from its first meeting to now hasn’t been easy for any of the members of Sunz of Thunda, least of all Harris.
The son of pastors Rudy and Jacque Harris of Turning Point New Deliverance Church in Muskogee, Harris became part of the group after serving time in jail, where he reaffirmed his belief in God.
“When I got grown around 17 or 18, I started getting into crime and stuff, and I went to prison a couple of times,” Harris said. “I got free in 2001, and as soon as I touched down in Tulsa, I started to record [music].”
Since being released from prison, Harris has devoted himself to his parents’ ministry and teaching young people. Norman said he was so inspired by the kind of music Carter and Harris wanted to perform that he had to join up with them.
“They are truly being led by the spirit of God,” Norman said. “For these guys to be able to go from a crowd of urban culture African-Americans to a group of suburbia white America and have the same effect in any venue that they go to, they are being led by God.”
The endgame for Sunz of Thunda has yet to be written, but Carter knows what he wants people to remember about himself and the group.
“I don’t necessarily have a goal [for the group],” Carter said. “I just want people to be able to say that we served God faithfully.”