Ohio Virtual Academy senior is a coder by day, aspiring rapper by night

Originally published in The Blade – August 22, 2020

Anthony Richardson, Jr. is a computer coder by day and aspiring rapper by night, with hopes to use his music to spread his faith to the masses.

“I write my music and I’m trying to work on my own beats so I can put my own songs out there,” said the 17-year-old Ohio Virtual Academy senior.

“The type of songs I write specifically is Christian rap,” he said, “so it’s not the same type of music that glorifies drug use, demeans women, and promotes violence and things of that nature. It’s going to be something that actually benefits people and in this case not just physically but spiritually.”

Anthony said he’s always loved music, but specifically grew an affinity for rap after hearing Christian rapper Lecrae’s music, and began writing his own early in his teens.

“I started listening to Lecrae around the age of 10,” he said. “Artists like KB, This’l, J. Monte’s lyricism inspires me to up my game with my writing and I like some of the ways the beats are produced so I take notes from that. I liked the fact that there were word-play and bars that mentioned the name of Jesus.

“The Christian rap was combining two things for me, it was combining my faith and music that I thought was awesome and it clicked for me.”

Anthony said he hopes his musical pursuit can influence the spirituality of generations to come.

“It’s more so ministry than anything. Sometimes Christian music doesn’t get a lot of play and the goal isn’t to make my name popular, it isn’t about the money but trying to share the gospel through this music.

He added that he hopes to use his music as a tool to reach a demographic that doesn’t subscribe to religious beliefs.

“There are some individuals who know Kendrick Lamar — a renowned hip-hop artist — but have never gone to a church. If I’m being honest some individuals don’t think Christians are fun to be around, so it’s to reach them.… I’m trying to be a light in an industry that people often associate with darkness,” he said.

Beyond Anthony’s passion for music is his love for coding, which began his sophomore year at Ohio Virtual Academy.

Anthony began taking coding and computer programming courses through the Destination Career Academy — tuition-free online career academies that provide industry-relevant and career-focused electives alongside traditional high school courses.

“My love for coding all started with the first class I took called game design,” he said. “In that class, we’d do these experiments where we’d play around with coding and make games. From there it continued as a fun thing to do and that’s how coding got my attention.”

Since then, Anthony said, he has learned how to create websites and will be learning how to do Java programming — a coding language used for desktop and mobile applications, embedded systems, and data processing.

Anthony said it’s a balancing act to pursue his dreams while preparing to complete his final year of high school and further plan for his future.

“I’m figuring out if I want to pursue a bachelor’s degree or just continue with trying to complete my associate’s degree at Owens Community College,” he said. 

He has already been taking college-credit-plus courses at Owens since eighth grade, through the academy, and is nearly halfway two completing his two-year associate’s degree.

Anthony credits his discipline to his parents Anthony and Tiaunna Richardson and his faith in God.

“They want me to be a man of excellence,” he said. “Especially my father, he really tries to instill that in me and to help me be a man of excellence and do everything as unto the Lord. My success with school and work is not me, it’s God enabling me to do all of these things. It’s him who’s working in me and keeping me in check.”

Mrs. Richardson said she is extremely proud of her son’s discipline and commitment to his goals.

“We’re very proud of all he’s doing, and we’re just really proud of him and trying to support him in all that he wants to do,” she said. “It’s been a learning process. He's a teenager like everyone else, sometimes he can get distracted. You know music can take over schoolwork — he doesn’t have it all together and none of us do — but he does a good job managing it all.”

To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy, visit https://ohva.k12.com/.

KEYWORDS: Career Readiness, Ohio, ohio virtual academy

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