Local hip-hop artist to perform at Shippensburg's Uprise Festival
Spence 4Hire is a name that might be familiar to Christian hip-hop fans, as well as residents of the Hagerstown and Washington County area.
Rap artist Spencer Jackson, who grew up in Hagerstown and graduated from Williamsport High School, was nicknamed “Spencer For Hire” as a kid and took on a variation of that nickname in his musical career.
Spence 4Hire will be among the dozens of performers hitting the stages at Uprise Festival, a Christian music event Friday, Sept. 14, and Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Shippensburg (Pa.) Fairgrounds. The main stage will feature artists including Newsboys, Plumb, Austin French and Family Force 5.
Also on hand will be vendors, food, games, speakers, activities and merchandise.
Uprise adds hip-hop
Jackson said he has known Uprise Festival founder Scott “Bubba” Brown since he was just getting started in music. Jackson was working as a crossover artist and Brown was not aware that in more recent years, he was circulating in the Christian market.
The two reconnected several years ago when Brown saw Jackson emceeing at Project Big Love, a nonprofit event encouraging churches and businesses in the Franklin County, Pa., area to get involved in serving the community. Uprise had been going strong annually, and as the Christian hip-hop scene grew, Brown decided to add a hip-hop stage.
“He already had big names in Christian rock — Newsboys, Skillet, last year he had (David) Crowder, TobyMac — pretty big names, all those guys,” Jackson said. “But he was in the process of broadening into hip-hop and having a hip-hop stage.”
Brown brought Jackson on as Spence 4Hire to perform as an opener and emcee the stage at Uprise.
“This will be my third year performing and emceeing the hip-hop stage,” Jackson said. “I kind of stay up there all day, interact with and introduce other artists, keep the stage kinda hyped for the next one.”
The hip-hop stage will feature acts with Reach Records, including Tedashii, Andy Mineo, KB and Trip Lee, as well as Columbia Records’ Social Club Misfits and Reflection’s Derek Minor.
“It’s great to be a local guy and to be able to meet those dudes, to interact with them, be behind the scenes with these quality entertainers. To be a part of it is really exciting and humbling,” Jackson said. “And especially because it’s faith-based, for family with a purpose. It’s a great event. Like the name suggests, there is an uplifting spirit behind it. It’s good for our community.”
‘A flagship for interaction’
Jackson will perform some original songs from his current Spence 4Hire EP, “Make Noise.” He also will introduce music from a forthcoming EP “that is intended to be what I call ‘worship-hop,’” he said.
“You know, it’s more intended to lead the hip-hop audience in worship. The style of it is a little easier and repetitive, so the average person can kind of rap along with it,” Jackson said. “A good thing about hip-hop is that you don’t always have to be this great tonal talent. If you have rhythm, that capability, this kind of gives a way to worship like that, too.”
Jackson said his music is meant to be “a flagship for interaction with people.” One of those interactions is Turntables, a monthly hip-hop worship service at Suite 710 in Hagerstown.
“I perform originals there and remixes of popular worship songs in the hip-hop style,” he said.
Jackson said music was in his household growing up and as the hip-hop culture took root. He began writing rhymes by the time he was in fourth grade, served in his church while he pursued his musical interests, and after high school graduation, attended Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla., where he earned a degree in music production.
He signed with a couple startup labels, continued emceeing events and took his musical act as an independent artist into schools for assemblies, teaching kids where hip-hop comes from, and “giving that positive light, that aspect that music can be a powerful tool, that you can use it to impact the world positively.”
“I am definitely a family man before anything,” Jackson said.
His wife, Mari Jackson, manages a lot of his wardrobe and styling, and his oldest son “is beginning to take on music on his own,” writing and producing with Jackson.
Meanwhile, Jackson’s business, Make Noise Productions, houses his pursuits in live entertainment, as well as his original music, and he serves as a campus pastor and creative arts director at Lifehouse Church in Hagerstown. His balance of family and music is “a reward that I love and enjoy,” he said. “I want my music to be a celebration of that.”
Spence 4Hire’s music is available on Spotify and at other digital media outlets. For more information, go to www.spence4h.com.
Top photo: Spence 4Hire (Spencer Jackson) will perform during the Uprise Festival this weekend at the Shippensburg (Pa.) Fairgrounds. (Submitted photo)