Growing up in New York, when it was really New York, was one of the most intense experiences. It psychologically scars you forever and trains you to view the world skeptically. It would take a true conversion…a leap of Faith….to start off negatively and finish off in the Positive. Graffiti culture, so steeped in violence and anger, took over Ruben’s life as he tagged “Spain” across New York City.
Not satisfied with a life of turmoil, he had a conversion. He became a Christian. Few people remember the tag “Spain”, but almost everybody in the city, graffiti writer or not, remembers his second tag “Jesus Saves”. Ruben’s hand style was dope and the message got across. The name stuck. With every “up” he got, he was spreading the Gospel his way.
I was lucky to meet Ruben and was astonished how gentle and warm he was, never giving off any hint of negativity. This man had truly been changed and regardless of what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, to know Ruben is to respect him. He never tires of spreading the love of Jesus to believers and nonbelievers alike.
PiazzaLife was lucky to catch up with Jesus Saves.
1) What made you get into graffiti ?
I grew up with many writers around my way who inspired me to write. I grew up on Graffiti and it was all around me since my childhood.
2) Back then, even people not involved in graffiti knew at least a few writers. That is how big a role it played in New York. For people who weren’t around to be in or around the culture, tell them what the “scene” was like.
I grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where, back then, Graffiti was pure and everywhere. Graffiti was on the insides and outsides of trains and all over trains stations. Even on the school buildings, on the hand-ball courts, and so many illegal pieces everywhere on gates. It was a totally different scene and a different World. Hip Hop was Pure and in it’s strongest form, especially when it related to Graffiti.
3) What did you prefer: tags, throwies, pieces? Remember the post office stickers?
Everything. I wanted to be known for piecing,tags,throw ups,stickers and anything that would get my message across and out there about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who Saves.
4) Tell us a “crazy” story.
I got so many. Being chased in the Fort Greene Projects hallways by a bunch of dudes, running from police and taking off my jacket and hat cause I knew for a fact I was being described for what I was wearing. They drove slowly, saw me and kept driving, cause I didn’t match the description. Also being chased on Essex Street as we jumped on the tracks as we made our way to the Williamsburg Bridge. 2 writers decided to hide in the net where they were constructing something. I kept on ’til I hit Marcy Ave. I was waiting 15 minutes for the M train. Finally, Police shows up and they ask for I.D. I also know sign language, so I pretended to be deaf and spoke in sign language. I heard one of the cops say, “He’s deaf!”. Also, one time I was being chased by somebody who saw me writing and jumped behind a truck that was waiting for the green light. As it drove away, I was holding on to the handle and …WOW, bro!!! I got stories for days lol
5) What made you transition from your original tag of Spain to Jesus Saves?
Spain was my first tag and I done out lines that you can still see till this day even though they’re faded. Spain is who I was and till this day, its’s who I still am. Everybody calls me Spain and I’m a Gospel Rapper who goes by MC Spain, yet Graffiti-wise, I changed it to Jesus Saves cause now it wasn’t about me anymore. When I Gave my life to the Lord, I wanted to lift His name up high as possible in a way that people may acknowledge Him for His honor and glory. It’s all about Jesus when it comes to my point of view as a believer. I started writing in ’95 and repped Jesus as much as possible, not only through Graffiti, but also managed to Preach on the streets and on the trains and in Churches. I wanted everything to be about Jesus. Spain was just a way to rep my self. Now I rep the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
6) How have you been able to consistently keep your faith, over so many years, and with so many obstacles?
Because His Word says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.” 1st of John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Romans 8:37, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Only with the help of God. It’s not a easy walk. As a man, I also go through trials and tribulations, namean? Prayers and reading His Word is my spiritual food to keep me going. Yes, I have made mistakes and errors and yes, I have tripped and fell a few times, but the Lord has always lifted me up when I cried out to Him and confessed my sins because he never refused a sincere and a honest heart.
7) Do you ever doubt your Faith?
No, I can’t afford to doubt especially in the times we are in. God is looking for servants who can serve Him and trust Him cause without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Proverbs 3:15 tells me, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” 2nd of Corinthians 5:7 tells me, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Habakkuk 2:4, ” Behold, His soul which is lifted up is not upright in Him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Many times people have tried to contradict me through the Word when it comes to Jesus Christ. For a minute, I wondered if Jesus was a Prophet just like anybody else but God has replied through His Word and confined to my spirit that Jesus Christ is the Word from Genesis to Revelation…I am not in Error and the Lord has built my faith
8) You are an optimistic dude. How do you manage to always look on the bright side?
It’s all God, my bro. It’s all Him. As a man, I can easily fall into darkness if I let my emotions take over. Liquor, drugs and Depression, Rock-n-Roll music that takes me to the dark side, like Alice In Chains. All that is the past because now I can manage to stay on the bright side with the Help of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I no longer want any part of the dark side. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. With God, all is possible if you just believe.
9) You are a huge 1950’s music fan. What does that music do for you and do you think it may bring you back to a time when things were “better”?
Yes it does. Music is like a time machine. Thats the Beauty of it. I don’t understand how people claim they love music and get music notes tatted up, when all they listen to is the modern music of nowadays. To know Music is to experience all types of Music and to go as far back as you can. The 50’s had some of the best musicians and composers ever. My favorite singers of all time during them days were mostly Italians, like Connie Francis,Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Frankie Avalon, Johnny Maestro, Lou Christie, Frankie Valli, Bobby Vinton, and so many more.
10) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Only God knows. I wish I could see my self in 10 years to make a difference now, but if, God willing, I can see my self fulfilling God’s plan and purpose that he has for me, I can defiantly say that I see my prayers and petitions being answered. I can see myself being stronger in the Lord, day by day, I can see myself overcoming trials and tribulations continuously. Only God knows what will be of me in 10 years.
11) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
In the country I call myself by, Spain ! Hahaha. Anywhere God takes me.
12) So you also took up rapping under the name MC SPAIN. Explain :
Spain is who I’m known by, ever since I first started tagging it. Now, I named my self MC Spain for my Gospel Rapping career. Even though I’m not a Spañiard or from Spain, the name is a decision. I called myself that for the fact I speak Spanish. Spain is the Mother that gave birth to the language I speak and is the root of me being Hispanic.
13) A message for the Youth:
Love yourself as well as others. Respect yourself and others. Be true to your self and others. Drugs, Liquor, and Revenge are not the way and not the key. It will hurt you and destroy you mentally and emotionally. Know that we are all created in God’s image and that God loves you so much. Do the right thing and stay way from negative things and people that will destroy your future. I pray that you all may have an encounter with God and guide you to the right path. I pray blessings over you all in Jesus name. I say Amen!