Thursday, December 31, 2009 History

This is the history story I wrote for the next issue of SOUL Magazine. However, in light of my man's s/ave's passing, I figured it would be good to share with everyone today.



It’s not like holy hip hop is lacking online community and news websites. We’ve got,,, and holding it down, right?

However, few are as eye-catching and chock-full of facts and opinion as

Launched on America’s Election Day of November 4, 2008, the new is a resurrection of an online hub previously started by noted Christian hip hop journalist s/ave.

A veteran writer for Heaven’s Hip Hop Magazine and founder of ONEMIND Magazine, s/ave created to be unified banner site for gospel rappers in the Gulf Coast area. The concept was that artists would forgo forging their own web identities and adopt the name.

Instead of or , early site members simply claimed as their home address. The front page linked in all of the affiliated artists and set itself up for synergistic cross-marketing. The idea being that when a listener or new fan received an album insert or poster with printed on it from “Artist A” and sought out his ministry online, he would also be introduced to “Artist B,” “Artist C,” “Artist D,” and so on.

“Hip hop media needed a network for ‘da south’ so I made one. Plus it gave me a great opportunity to contribute locally,” s/ave said. “That made it more about friends, which really appealed to me since I was growing up [spiritually and emotionally.] Artists began to confide in me. I didn’t care about their music, I cared about the person.

s/ave signing love

“God made it a very healing time for me. I got more out of founding than I could have ever put in.”

One of the site’s early adopters was k-Drama. Although he hailed from Cincinnati, Ohio, his music easily appealed to residents of the Third Coast. It was something that drew Drama to the site and the main reason s/ave invited him to join in 2001.

“I respected the artists that grinded on and was happy that someone had faith in what I was doing,” k-Drama said. “Other than Grapetree [Records], it was hard for me to find southern sounding Christian rap, so a network full of them definitely made me feel at home away from home.”

Another early affiliate was Much Luvv Records’ CY, an artist who still carries the original URL nomenclature for his website: s/ave saw something special in this fellow Houstonian and asked if he could create an Internet presence for CY that was ultimately connected to the main hub.

“If it wasn’t for s/ave I would not have had a website,” CY said. “Another reason I’ve kept the domain name was through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I had no idea that would become the mega site it is now.”

Although the original vision of was unity through a single name, the ties that bound began to fray as artists joined but also kept an individual URL on the side.

It became harder to sell and get buy-in for the idea and eventually the site withered away to a simple, yet lively, message board. s/ave also found his passions steadily shifting away from the Christian rap community to a group nearly as underground.

“Deaf culture,” s/ave explained. “I left the world of hip hop to serve the people who didn’t hear it.”

s/ave enrolled in college level American Sign Language classes and began to get involved in deaf church ministries and stage plays. This left little time to maintain

However, he knew of a local Christian rapper and business owner who was an emerging leader in both his city and the movement as a whole. In 2008 s/ave handed over ownership of to Bobby “Tre9” Herring.

Tre9 had previously worked with Aziz “Zee” Peregrino-Brimah’s Bezworks Designs company when he needed a website for his All Eye On Me Achievement Awards show. Pleased with the outcome of that venture, the two formed an official partnership and started to plan for an attention-grabbing relaunch of

The new site would be more of a news and multi-media hub than a conglomerate site for individual artists. And despite its name and heritage, the new would also expand its scope beyond the bottom half of the Mason-Dixon line.

“Honestly, God is the one who changed the focus,” Zee said. “When the game changes, the plays you run change. When in war, when there has been a change within the enemy, you too have to change and take on a new directive.

“To focus only on the South while using the world wide web is an oxymoron of sorts.”

Not that webheads seemed to mind. is experiencing tremendous growth. The site now gets nearly six million hits a month. And from its Election Day launch to Valentine’s Day (four months), the site had 1,000 registrants. One month later another 1,000 joined – effectively doubling its membership.

“That’s an amazing feat,” Zee said. “With those kind of numbers, we can approach corporations confidently for sponsorships and other initiatives. One thing Tre and I are thankful for is that God has given us business-sense and a passionate desire to see Christian hip hop propelled forward.”

The site’s original founder also supports the shift in focus.

“It seems to be bringing together everyone,” s/ave said. “That’s just Bobby’s way. He has that gift.”

And despite the fact that the new is owned by two active gospel rap artists, it never seems to be pushing their specific agenda or ministry. If anything, both Zee and Tre9 appear to be underserved by

“Many people would assume that I would have Much Luvv on everything at, but that is not my vision, it’s beyond that,” Tre9 said. “We create the environment for God to move via’s online community. We are unifying Christian hip hop by being a respecter of no one.

“You might see a person you never heard of before in the top news section or you might see an award-winning artist. One thing you won’t see is our personal preferences or tastes only.”

These days, the site has all matter of cutting edge multi-media features, including streaming radio (with DJ D-Lite’s 3rd Coast Fiyah and The Wade-O Show), a video channel, artist interviews, music leaks, album reviews, and has become a destination for all things gospel rap.

“I absolutely love the new website. It reminds me of and we need that, man!” k-Drama said. “It’s updated regularly and it keeps people drawn to it daily because of the ‘up-to-the-minute’ news blurbs and leaks.” recently added Facebook-type community building utilities to the site and is revamping its radio station sub-section. Both Zee and Tre9 view the interactive portal as a business ministry.

“Our ultimate goal is to expand and maximize our exposure to the world as a genre,” Zee said. “ is strategically aligning itself to be a part of that same ‘lane’ [as mainstream media] so that we can influence and win as many people to Jesus as possible.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vidz: Von Won "I Missed It That Day"

Here's the self-directed video from Von Won for one of his best songs off of Answering the Call.

There's quite a bit of passion here with a charge that should encourage us all to share the hope we have with those around us.

Related: My critique of Answering the Call at

Tha Message Mag in stores


Congrats to Tha Message Magazine for their recent distribution into mainstream stores like Hastings.

Over the weekend, publisher Payday sent me this pic of his lovely daughters finding the mag on shelves in Greenville, Texas.

I'm going to check the Hastings in Conroe, Texas today and hope to find and buy a copy. You should too.

To locate a store near you, visit

Monday, December 14, 2009

Billy Graham + Christmas Hip Hop?


Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Commissions DJ Promote to Create and Offer Free, Christmas Hip Hop EP

While Yuletide-themed hip hop isn’t exactly a new concept (Kurtis Blow was “Christmas Rappin’” back in 1979), it often catches listeners by surprise. So when you take that recipe and add in sermon samples from and the full endorsement of “Greatest Living American” and beloved evangelist Billy Graham, expect to see more than a few raised eyebrows.

That’s exactly what can be anticipated now that Lights Up, Eyes On, a 5-track EP by DJ Promote commissioned by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is available to the masses.

“I was so honored to be asked to create this project,” Promote said. “I mean, he’s like an icon. To take that timeless message he has and reinvent that in a way where people can hear it all over again is just awesome!”

Listeners can digitally download Lights Up, Eyes On for free at – a new viral media website created by the BGEA. DJ Promote crafted the beats for four of the five tracks and then invited several artist friends to add to the music.

Photo courtesy of In the Still Photography

The sound ranges from street rap to classic hip hop, electronica, and acoustic pop. Lyrics were penned by Verbs, Moses Uvere, AntBanx, and Kellen Bowhay. Swiftstyle, Dustin Cavasos, and Othello also contributed to the effort.

Several songs include audio clips from both Billy Graham and his wife Ruth encouraging the audience to reject a commercialized Christmas and embrace the birth of Jesus the Messiah as the true meaning of these holy days.

“[Graham’s] words are still relevant and that’s because the message is foundational. It didn’t change throughout the years. The whole time it was just about Jesus and the hope he brings to this broken world,” Promote said.

Promote is no stranger to the BGEA, having previously appeared in their “Bridge to Life” video as both a DJ and graffiti writer. He’s also well known on the touring circuit and has manned turntables for nationally known artists like Verbs, B.Reith, and Propaganda.

For more information on DJ Promote please visit

For more information on Ransom please visit

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shellee Coley CD Release Party


My very good friend Shellee Coley will be releasing her new EP, The Girl the Stencil Drew, this Tuesday night, December 15 in The Woodlands, TX. Her "pop music for real women" style is full of honest lyrics about self-image, relationships, and faith.

(The Big) Dosey Doe
Tuesday, 12.15.09
Doors at 6pm/show at 7pm
Musician Mason Lankford opens the show

If you're a local, please come out and support. If not, at least do yourself a favor by visiting her site and sampling the tracks. There, you can place an order for a physical copy or purchase a download of the digital version.

Check it out at

Take a listen to the haunting song: "Uncomfortable."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Opinon vs Hate

In the wake of the Rey King Black Friday mixtape and its detractors, a good couple of "Opinion vs. Hate" blogs have been posted.

1. Peep Carlos Johnson's excellent "Hate or Opinion?" piece over at

2. And check out DJ MVP (aka Vic)'s similar/companion piece on his I Am Golden State blog.

Your thoughts?

Cross Movement Records gets Grammy nods

Congrats to Cross Movement Records for scoring two Grammy nominations. On Wednesday, December 2 it was announced that both Da’ T.R.U.T.H.’s Big Picture and Tonic’s The Dash were listed among five choices for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album.

The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on Sunday Jan. 31, 2010, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live on CBS from 8 p.m Eastern.

Sketch article: Thi'sl in the new Message Mag


The latest issue of Tha Message Magazine is now in print. It carries a special gold-foil-embossed logo and my cover story on the Ex-Hustler Thi’sl.

Here's your teaser paragraph:
Thi’sl is the anti-Rick Ross.

Not that he’s hating on William Leonard Roberts II – the man behind the moniker. In fact, from the outside, they’re quite similar. Dark skin. Barrel chests. Thick beards.

But Travis Tyler (aka Thi’sl) is squarely the antithesis of the Miami cocaine kingpin “Rick Ross” rap image being sold to hip-hop loving youth.

Peep game.

And, publisher Payday tells me they’ve signed a distribution deal to place the book in Hastings Home Entertainment stores which means you’ll see it on the same shelf as XXL and The Source.

Free DLs: KJ/MJ Mashup & Unreleased

Tweezy's always giving.


First up is the Songs You Never Heard Mixtape.

This free project has cuts of KJ-52 with Goldinchild, Knine, and Mr. Solo of Gospel Gangstaz. There's some freshness here you won't hear anywhere else and that doesn't sound like his recent 52 Television album.

Grab it here.


And while it's a little late, mashups are always fun.

Off the Wall
has Jonah tossing rhymes from his last two albums on top of tracks from the King of Pop.

Get the files (again, for free) here.

Vid: Alkendria "New Day"

Southern Gospeltality Records is still kicking. Peep the video for the new single by songstress Alkendria.

Sounds ready for contemporary gospel radio to me.

The Complaint: Show CDs

Artists, please do us all a favor and make yourself a show a CD with the three tracks you’re going to perform - in order.

How many times have you been to a Christian hip hop concert and heard this from the stage:

“Ay yo soundman, hit track 3. No, not that track 3. The other one, on the yellow disc. Yeah. Naw, wait, maybe it’s track 8.”

Really? How is that blessing us in the audience?

Even if you can’t get it blended and mixed, at least set up a little playlist in iTunes and burn your junk to a new plate in the order you’re going to be presenting it.

It’s a bit of professionalism that will improve your marketability – not to mention your credibility.

After all, don’t you want them to focus on the message and not the music?

Free DL: DJ Primo "Ain't Ridin' Slow"

My man DJ Primo has cooked up another free mixtape called Ain’t Ridin' Slow.

This blend features Dre Marshall, Bushwick Bill, Gifted, Tre9, Lecrae, Sean Slaughter and many others.

Check out his site to get the files.

Vid: Brinson "Rock 4 The Rock"

GodChaserz's Brinson sent me this link to his live performance video of "Rock 4 The Rock" from recorded with multiple cameras at Urban D's Crossover Community Church in Tampa.

I have to admit, this isn't my favorite cut off of Dat's Gospel Mixx Vol. 2, but I like Brinson's band name references and the crowd-surfing/mic-stand-strumming playfulness he adds to the performance.

Jay-Z's "Jesus" line stirs controversy

Catching up on blogging by posting a few of my recent rants for The Wade-O Radio Show.


So apparently the Christian hip hop community is just now hearing Jay-Z’s “Jesus can’t save you” line from “Empire State of Mind” from his Blueprint 3 album that dropped in September.

Last week, Pastor Justin Cox of P4CM launched an excited YouTube response and the Internet message boards have been all a Twitter about these lines:

I’m a bit torn on this issue. On one hand, I feel Pastor Cox and his passionate response to something negative or false being said about one we so deeply love. Imagine if someone dissed your wife or your mom and how your emotions would spike with outrage.

However, is Jay really saying “Jesus can’t save your soul”? Or is he being more poetic and espousing something with a different, layered meaning?

Further, should we be surprised when a non-believer clearly communicates that they are a non-believer? Would we really be happier if he just said he was a follower of Christ but didn’t live it? Goodness knows we have enough people that like in the rap industry – on both sides of the cross.

Like my man Brother Wize said, the next time you’re in your Word, take a look at 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 and see how it might apply here.



1. Former Cross Movement member Cruz Cordero has provided several equally passionate counterpoints to Pastor Cox's vids.

2. Pastor Cox has also added an update after his clip landed on mainstream sites like

3. A video from a recent Jay-Z performance in Europe shows him using an alteration of this original lyric. Whether this intentional or an ad-lib is unknown.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

DJ Official's "Entermission" promo


Wow! I'm thoroughly impressed with the amount of promotion and work Reach Records has put into this upcoming DJ Official album.

The passport image above was generated by the new Entermission Agency website. You can make one too. From there, you can post it to Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace plus sample "Show Off" (the first single) and order any one of the special packages.

They've got slip mats, vinyl, and tees to go with the music.

This is how it should be done. The project drops on December 26, 2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vid: Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays mini doc

I ran across this promo vid Tre9 must have recently created for his Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays at Rap-A-Lot's Prince Complex in Houston's 5th Ward.

This clip gives a great overview of what it looks and sounds like along with interviews from participants and attendees.

For more on Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays check out Tre's missions blog.