In many ways, Dillon Burns’ life so far is an “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” kind of story.
His father, DeAndre’ Burns, started rapping at a young age.
“I was 14 when I first started rapping my brother’s lyrics,” DeAndre’ said.
That was the beginning of three decades so far of ministry heavily entwined with writing, performing and producing Christian rap. He’s now general manager for Flatline Movement, a ministry started years ago to reach urban youth through Christian hip-hop.
DeAndre’ moved his family from Mobile to Montgomery to take on that role, and as it turns out, it’s been a special place — Montgomery is where Dillon’s own passion for music began to take off.
He was 12 when Dewayne Rembert, founder of Flatline Movement and pastor of Flatline Church at Chisholm, overheard him and his friends in the youth group rapping a song by Christian rapper Lecrae.
“He asked if me and one of my friends would like to rap, and we said yes,” Dillon said. “So my dad wrote both of our first songs.”
That got him started. Now 16, Dillon writes his own music. His first song, “Take Off,” took a year to write, but after that it was second nature, he said. He raps under the name Makaio, his middle name, which means “gift of God” in Hawaiian.
“I think it was pretty fitting to use that name for the gifts that God has given me,” Dillon said.
He’s hoping to drop a solo extended play sometime this year.
“I want to share my testimony — I feel like it will help people my age,” Dillon said. “I’m seeing that’s my main demographic because there’s not many young Christian artists.”
He said as a new artist he’s been blessed to have Flatline Movement.
“They were already established, and the studio is amazing,” Dillon said. “I hear a lot of artists talking about getting studio time, but God has been so huge in allowing the church to have a studio.”
He has also had a chance to get a lot of performing experience as Flatline’s artists have led rallies at schools, churches and occasionally in stadiums.
“Ministry wise, I feel like I’ve done a lot of shows because of the connections that Flatline movement has with schools and different churches, so it’s really been a blessing,” Dillon said.
And as he’s performed, young audiences have responded.
“The Lord has just been speaking to me and showing me I’m not the only one looking for that kind of music,” Dillon said.
DeAndre’ said he’s noticed that too.
“We see the engagement he has with his peers, how a song comes on and everyone responds,” he said, adding that often from the moment Dillon starts rapping, “they are into it.”
Rembert said Dillon is “just a strong witness to the Lord.”
“He’s an example of being a witness, being a servant, being very committed to his craft with the Lord and giving his all to the Lord,” he said. “He’s not lukewarm; it’s Jesus or nothing. He’s really been such an encouragement to me.”
Dillon said he’s grateful for “amazing parents” who have helped him stay on the right track and “check up on me a lot.”
“A lot of teenagers don’t have that,” he said.
He’s also had their support as he’s worked hard toward other personal goals. During the COVID-19 pandemic as life slowed down to a crawl, Dillon used that time to get ahead on his studies.
He graduated high school at 15. He’s currently enrolled in community college studying culinary arts while he works at Chick-Fil-A.
“I love to cook — that’s another passion of mine,” he said. “School, music and work are my life.”
DeAndre’ said he’s proud of all his son’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see how God uses him. He’s enjoyed watching him get to use his musical talents, among other things, for the glory of God in this season.
“It’s so interesting to see how God is continuing the tradition of ministry,” DeAndre’ said. “I don’t know what God has for him in the future, but I know for me it started with music.”
To listen to Dillon’s music, search for Flatline Movement on your favorite music platform. To contact him about a booking, email email@example.com.
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