Sir the Baptist

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Sir the Baptist
SirTheBaptist press photo.png
Background information
Birth name William James Stokes
Origin Chicago, Illinois
Years active 2015–present
Labels Atlantic Records

William James Stokes (better known by his stage name, Sir the Baptist) is an American hip hop and R&B recording artist, producer, songwriter, and philanthropist from Chicago, Illinois.[1][2][3] He is currently signed to Atlantic Records.[4][5][6] His debut album is due to be released in 2017.[7]

Early life[edit]

Stokes was born and raised in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. He was raised as one of 22 children by his father, a prominent Baptist preacher and activist, and his mother, a missionary.[2] Stokes began playing piano at age six, and, by the age of 10, he could also play the drums.[2] He also sang in the choir at his father's church.[8] He earned the nickname "Sir" while at church.[2] As a teenager, Stokes wrote film scores and commercial jingles. After high school, Stokes attended Columbia College for one day before pursuing a career in advertising.[1]


Prior to his music career, Stokes worked at the Chicago advertising agency, Leo Burnett. As the Director of Digital Marketing, Stokes worked alongside Rodney Jerkins on campaigns for major brands such as McDonald's.[1][9] At age 26, Stokes decided to quit his job and focus on becoming a recording artist. In the meantime, he worked as a driver for Lyft and lived in his car for a short period of time.[8][10]

Stokes' first singles as Sir the Baptist was "Raise Hell" which was released in June 2015.[11] The song was eventually nominated for "Impact Track of the Year" at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards.[12] It was also featured on the soundtrack for the film, The Birth of a Nation.[13] Another early track, "(Creflo) Almighty Dollar," was produced with help from Twista.

In 2016, Stokes performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Sasquatch! Music Festival,[6] Voodoo Fest,[14] Life is Beautiful Festival,[15] Free Press Summer Fest,[16] and Shaky Beats Music Festival among others.[5]

In May 2016, Stokes performed "Raise Hell" on Late Night with Seth Meyers.[17] In August 2016, Stokes played at the 2016 Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago where he performed a part of the set in a coffin to address the gun violence in the host city.[4] The following month, he performed at the Made in America Festival where he met rapper Jay Z who praised his music.[10] In October 2016, he opened for Beyoncé at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn for the Tidal X 1015 event.[12]

In December 2016, Stokes partnered with Lyft, providing the track "Movin" to their short film, June.[18] His first album, Saint or Sinner, is due to be released in May 2017.[7]



  • Raise Hell (2015)
  • Movin (2016)


  • Saint or Sinner (2017, Atlantic Records)[7]


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2016 BET Hip Hop Awards Impact Track of the Year "Raise Hell" Nominated

Political views[edit]

Stokes supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States presidential election.[19] In August 2016, Stokes taunted a Donald Trump impersonator on stage for his Afropunk Festival performance in Brooklyn. He has also been quoted saying that Donald Trump is "way out of touch" with the African American community.[20] Stokes has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America,[16] VH1 Save the Music,[3] Global Citizen,[21] and other charitable organizations.


  1. ^ a b c Mahadevan, Tara (23 July 2015). "Sir the Baptist Challenges Society's Status Quo With His "Urban Hymns"". LA Weekly. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Imarenezor, Christine (5 August 2016). "NEXT: Sir the Baptist Is More Than Just A Preacher's Kid". Vibe. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Keating, Caitlin (4 November 2016). "Toyota and VH1 Save The Music Foundation Raise Funds for Three Deserving Chicago Schools". People. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Kot, Greg (15 September 2016). "Gospel arises anew in Chicago hip-hop". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Martin, Robert (31 May 2016). "Sir the Baptist Has A Different Gospel to Preach". Paste. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Samuels Gibbs, Adrienne (29 July 2016). "Sir the Baptist Turns the Tables on Church Music". Ebony. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c Carney, Alison; Caldwell, Jenna (14 March 2017). "Sir the Baptist". Made in the District. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  8. ^ a b McKynzie, Amber (1 November 2016). "Sir The Baptist Is 'Raising Hell' As Atlantic Records' Latest Soul Sensation". Essence. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Desire. "Sir The Baptist Reflects On Past Career As A Lyft Driver On "Driver Appreciation Day"". Vibe. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  10. ^ a b C.M., Emmanuel (9 September 2016). "The Break Presents: Sir The Baptist". XXL. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  11. ^ Rohn, Jake (24 June 2015). "Watch Sir the Baptist 'Raise Hell' in New Music Video". BET. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Haffenden, Dayna (20 October 2016). "Sir The Baptist Releases Powerful Video For "What We Got"". Vibe. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  13. ^ Hernandez, Victoria (29 September 2016). "Stream "The Birth Of A Nation" Album Featuring Meek Mill, The Game, Nas, Lil Wayne & Gucci Mane". HipHopDX. Retrieved 10 April 2017. 
  14. ^ Hall, David Brendan (1 November 2016). "Voodoo 2016 Festival Review: 11 Scary Good Performances". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  15. ^ Manders, Hayden (30 September 2016). "The Coolest, Most Beautiful People From Life Is Beautiful 2016". Nylon. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Darusman, Davis (28 June 2016). "Odyssey Exclusive: Interview With Sir The Baptist". The Odyssey. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  17. ^ Barber, Andrew (19 May 2016). "Watch Sir The Baptist Perform "Raise Hell" on Late Night with Seth Meyers". Fake Shore Drive. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  18. ^ Thompson, Desire (14 December 2016). "Sir The Baptist Reflects On Past Career As A Lyft Driver On "Driver Appreciation Day"". Vibe. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  19. ^ Platon, Adelle (27 September 2016). "Sir The Baptist on Clinton & Trump's First Debate: 'I Won't Feel Comfortable Until We Know Who's President'". Billboard. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  20. ^ Zaru, Deena (30 August 2016). "Chicago rapper Sir the Baptist gets political: Donald Trump 'is the problem'". CNN. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  21. ^ "Sir the Baptist: Keep the Light. Carry the Light. Share it With Other People". Global Citizen. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 

External links[edit]