Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby–Or Not: 11 Artists Who Dropped Their Raunchy Music And Lifestyle After Finding God
In today’s music, many big names in the industry spend a hell of a lot of time talking about sex. Others spend a hell of a lot of time living recklessly. The people on this list had a lot of fun early in their careers, and then decided after finding God, that they wanted to clean up their music and/or their image. Some didn’t continue on the positive path, but hey, they tried. Here are 11 famous folks who left behind the sexually suggestive music and raunchy lifestyles to focus on their faith.
Coko of SWV
Despite providing the lead vocals on songs like “Can We” and “Downtown” as a member of SWV, at this point in her life isn’t feeling such music. She’s married to gospel producer Mike Clemmons, is improving her relationship with God and has dropped a gospel album, so she doesn’t want to sing those songs ever again. As she put it: “whether I make another gospel record or not, I will not sing “Downtown” again.” In her opinion, such songs just don’t fit with her walk.
Cheryl “Salt” James
Let’s talk about sex, baby!” Or not. After years of dropping sexually suggestive and empowering rhymes as a part of Salt & Pepa, James left the group, found the Lord, and teamed up with Kirk Franklin instead of Pepa. She did all of this after having a revelation: “I needed to shut down a lot of things and focus on God because that was where my healing was.” When she reunited with Pepa (Sandra Denton) years and years later (which was documented on the short-lived reality show, The-Salt-N-Pepa Show), she made it clear that she wasn’t comfortable trying to perform their songs known for sexual lyrics, and tried to change them when given a chance.
The former first lady of Three Six Mafia left the group behind after having money disputes. But after making the decision to go it alone, she found the Lord and dropped the Gangsta from her name, going as Lady Boo for a time. She said she was glad to make a change in her life: “I’ve been more peaceful. I used to always have attitudes. I was around here wilding. Now I know myself. I was always into meditation anyway, so I think that helped, too.” But earlier this year, she said that she had a change of heart. “Yeah. I got depressed and it wasn’t going right in my mind with being in the group. I wanted to try a different religion. Growing up, all I knew was God and blah blah blah. So I tried that and found out that really wasn’t for me. I rather be spiritual than religious. I don’t like organized religion.”
Not only does he not curse in his music anymore, but Prince rarely performs those beloved songs in his catalog that were all about sex (i.e., “Gett Off,” “Head,” “Darling Nikki,” etc.). Prince embodied sex back in the day! But when he became a Jehovah’s Witnessin the early ’00s, Prince changed it up big time on us. As he put it in a Rolling Stone interview a few years after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness: “This culture is in big trouble,” he insists. “All you see on television are debased images.”
With songs like “Crave” and “Bet She Can’t,” Total as group wasn’t overtly sexual, but they weren’t shy either. Keisha Spivey brought most of the raunchiness to the group, but Pam Long sexed it up here and there too. But after the group split in 2000, she focused on her faith, put out a gospel record, and married an unofficial member of Pretty Ricky named J. Long (but Total have reunited for some performances here and there). This is what she had to say about the man God placed in her life: “This is the Love Of My Life! Thank you Jesus 4 Loving Me So Much That You Would Send Me a king Who Follows After You w/all of his Heart! We are and will never be perfect but we follow the One that is: And that’s You Jesus! The King of kings and Lord of lords! Hallelujah!”
The Run-D.M.C. icon says that as he first tasted fame, he lived a little too free: “I did me; I’m not saying I was the craziest, but… Yeah, I was the craziest.” But eventually after becoming a man of the cloth, Rev. Run says he left all the bed-hopping of his youth behind and focused on finding a woman to grow with. In his book, Manology, he even revealed that he waited until he was married to Justine to even kiss her:
“I never touched my wife before I married her. Never kissed her. I never did anything. The first moment that we got married, we made Diggy Simmons.”
Once a major sex symbol drumming her heart out alongside Prince, Sheila E. was battling a lot of demons that she didn’t talk about, including sexual abuse she dealt with as a child at the hands of a babysitter. She said that once she faced that anger and shame and gave her life to God, she let all that (including the lifestyle) go.
“I was holding so many things in, and I didn’t like the person I had become and it was just making me angry. After a while you kind of go ‘I do not want to be like this anymore, I need to change. One of the biggest things was giving my heart to the Lord…He has forgiven me, I need to forgive myself.”
Summer was not only the Queen of Disco, but during the ’70s, she was also something of a sex kitten (“Love To Love You” anyone?). Summer would eventually become a born-again Christian in the ’80s, way after disco left the building, and said that the earlier, sexier part of her career was a time she wasn’t that proud of: “History is history, you can’t unwrite it. I accept that’s where I was then, but I consider myself beyond that point and forgiven by God. But I also recognize that was the song [Love to Love You, Baby] that brought me my first success, so He must have known that would happen.”
One half of the now defunct group Clipse (alongside brother Pusha T), Malice changed his name to No Malice after converting to Christianity. He also released a book about changing his life called Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind & Naked and tried his hand at collaborating on gospel music while still rapping, but about more positive things.
Ginuwine hasn’t necessarily left behind all the raunchy lyrics that used to have women feening to touch his S-curl, but he claims that after losing his parents and turning to drugs, he got right with God and rid himself of all those things:
“I had one friend who intervened and begged me to get help. Even though I didn’t continue with my therapy, I went to church and received counseling from my pastor and got straight spiritually. I was able to turn away from all those things that were destroying me and finally think clearly. I had to ask myself whether or not I wanted to go out like my dad and have my kids hurt the way I was hurting. I’ve been clean for about seven years. Now, I keep all that stuff away from me, especially when I’m on the road.”
But according to Sole, he might just be back on something…
For a long time, Al Green was a sex symbol, and all the fame and attention made him something of a player when it came to the ladies. But when former girlfriend Mary Woodson White threw hot grits on him and then committed suicide in his home because he wouldn’t marry her, Green decided to change his life and he became a pastor. He put out gospel music that received a lukewarm response when it came to sales, but eventually, people got hip to what Green was serving.