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Perhaps it is because of the admonition to “be ye therefore perfect,” that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often work toward excellence in the fields in which they work and not just in their gospel living. We are all hopefully striving to be more and do more. Striving, or in the words of a new music video from Oba Bonner, featuring NBA star and member of the Church, Jabari Parker; “Hustlin’”.
Oba is a member of the wonderfully musical and ever talented Bonner Family who, among other things, performed at this year’s “Be One” celebration for the 40th Anniversary of the Priesthood revelation, as well as providing a moving featured song in the new film, Jane and Emma.
“[My mother] has been teaching voice for over 45 years…she’d put us on her lap while she taught at the piano” and from that perch at such a tender age, Oba learned to love music. It was at the still quite youthful age of 14 that he convinced his parents to let him move in with his brother in Los Angeles to spend his after school hours shadowing producers and songwriters and learning what it might take to do be a musician for real.
After high school, he put aside those goals for a time as he traveled to South Africa to serve a mission. Though his time was dedicated to the Lord, he kept a small recorder on him so that he wouldn’t lose the ideas that came to him and as he walked the streets and interacted with the people of Durban and the surrounding areas.
“I wanted the sounds of South Africa to help me in creating a new sound,” Oba explained, “I couldn’t wait to get back to the studio and start making this new music.” This new song is a part of that fresh take that has come with that unique experience.
“This song is about chasing your dreams,” said Oba. And who better to feature in a song like that than Latter-day Saint basketball player Jabari Parker, who in July signed a 2-year, $40 million contract with the Chicago Bulls. Joining the Bulls meant returning to his hometown where the Church cultural halls of his youth saw him practicing the sport he now plays professionally.
Both of these men are examples of what it means to be “Hustlin’”. Oba firmly believes that, as young members of the Church, we can push for and pursue the things we want the most without it coming at the expense of a gospel-centered life. “I’m a singer, I’m a rapper and I’m a returned missionary…I can gladly say all of those things.” Oba hopes that this video will inspire others to realize that they too can have both their dreams and their testimony and that each can bless the other.
Watch the video for “Hustlin’” below: