He isn't alone. Several stylistically distinct artists have vast stores of scripture in the part of the brain where most of us have the lyrics to 36 Chambers or at least Oops!...I Did It Again. Grimes, for one, has spoken out about her exposure to medieval-style Christian mysticism. Jonathan Pierce of the Drums and singer-songwriter Diane Birch grew up, like Kings of Leon's Followill brothers, under the influence of evangelical types. Rookie rapper Angel Haze, too, was forbidden to listen to secular tunes for fear of hell's fire.
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One artist she did lose her mind to, once the floodgates busted open, was Eminem. She recently released a reworked version of his 2002 hit "Cleanin' Out My Closet" with intense verses about her own childhood sexual abuse. It's unclear from the song whether or not the abuser was associated with the Greater Apostolic Faith, the church her mother belonged to, but eventually rejected.
In general though, Haze, like Owens, seems to feel left out because of her musically sheltered youth. "It is really hard for me to be in this culture with the limited knowledge that I have about it," she says. "It's like I'm growing into something that isn't a part of it." Which, by the way, she considers a plus. "I can't steal from anyone if I don't know what they're about."
Pierce, of the Drums, doesn't give much credence to the suggestion that his Pentecostal past shaped him as an artist. "I don't think my upbringing, the religious side of it influenced me, except that it turned me towards other things that did influence me," he told me upon the release of his band's 2011 release, Portamento.