Friday, April 29, 2011

VID: Gifted interview at "A Day For God"

And here's Gifted da Flamethrowa's response to similar questions...

VID: Corey Paul interview at "A Day For God"

Since "A Day For God" was on Resurrection Sunday I decided to ask a few artists about what our Lord had revealed to them during Holy Week 2011.

I also asked Corey Paul about the future of the Frontline Movement.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TuneCore CEO name drops Lecrae on Fox Business channel

Pretty nice when you get mentioned next to Jay-Z and Nine Inch Nails (around the 2:00 minute mark) by the CEO of a music exec being interviewed on the Fox Business channel.

It says something about the financial visibility of Reach Records and Christian hip hop as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recap: Nuwine performs and speaks at Resurrection Sunday "A Day for God" event


On Resurrection Sunday 2011 Houston’s Street Life Worldwide organized “A Day For God” – a combination Christian rap concert and family fun day outreach. Nuwine, aka Wine-O, was also asked to play a part.

For those that don’t know, Nuwine was a key figure in the Grapetree era of Christian hip hop. His gritty tales from Da Bloody 5th Ward of the city told of the urgent need for Christ. Later, he was signed to Evander Holyfield’s “Real Deal Records” and after that began making a name, and money, producing and rapping in a more secular music style.

However, his friends in the ministry, like Lil Raskull and Pastor Levi, have still remained and continue to encourage him in the faith.

Levi told me he got the vision for "A Day for God" after seeing a street cat at a ticket booth trying to secure admittance to a big name comedy show being held over Easter weekend. For some reason or another, the guy couldn't get a ticket and left in a huff.

On Resurrection Sunday, at a different, T.D. Jakes event being held at the Astrodome, Levi said he ran into the same guy, dressed to the nines and ready for Easter.

"I realized then that even the most hood dudes come out to celebrate this day," Levi said.

So now, in what he hopes will be the first of many, he helped organize "A Day for God" and invited a mainstream rap talent like Nuwine to participate.

Here's how that went down:

Nuwine’s early work impacted many for the Kingdom of Christ. As you heard, he still wants your prayers. Please continue to lift him up.

And here's how Von Won explained Nuwine's involvement.

Overall, it was a great day. A couple hundred people showed up, got fed, and enjoyed some God-glorifying hip hop music and activities.

Here's a photo recap of the rest and to the hopes that this thing can continue year after year.

Chizzell (S.O.M.), Reconcile, D. Davis, and Phurious Stylez

Pastor Mukes (Bound 4 Glory) & Pastor John Richardson (First Outreach)

Von Won interviews Zeeda for his TV show

Everybody gets grub

Hilary Pradia and Corey Paul

Frontline Movement prays before hitting the stage

Lil Man gets down

Lil Raskull rockin' the retro tee

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kenny Rogers digs Lecrae's Dove Awards performance

Or at least that's what this clip from the Gospel Music Channel leads me to believe. (Check for the country music legend's reaction around the 2:35 mark.)

What did you think of the entrance? Using Natalie Grant for the hooks instead of the original artists? The b-boy paparazzi? (My fave.)

And yes, there's a certain irony to be found in a guy rapping about shunning the attention and spotlight in a televised performance at an industry award show. But since the "Background" song at least addresses those pressures, I'm cool with it all here.

There's another part I didn't catch upon my first viewing, but when Natalie Grant first comes out, the "crowd" from the opening car scene appears to hit the stage and push for autographs and photos from Lecrae only to be removed by "security" afterward. That was a nice touch to further the theme of the segment.

Anyway, aside from having Natalie Grant do the singing (I would have preferred original vocalist Jai on "God Is Enough" or both songs), it was a decent performance that actually added a little showmanship a broadcast that seemed to lack it.

Fonzworth Bentley's "Cool Outrageous" Faith Spurs New C.O.L.O.U.R.S. EP

The paparazzi snap one photo of you performing the role of a personal assistant to your boss and you’re forever labeled as “P.Diddy’s Umbrella Man.” Or maybe not.

Although that was once the life and celebrity slingshot moment for Fonzworth Bentley, aka Derek Watkins, he has since parlayed that fame into a viable career as an author, reality show host, motivational speaker, fashionista, and hip hop music recording artist.

Over the weekend, Bentley debuted his C.O.L.O.U.R.S. EP. It’s a project that was originally scheduled to drop on Good Friday but ended up surfacing three days later on Easter Sunday. Sound familiar?

Although unplanned, such spiritual analogies are not entirely off-base given Watkins’ Christian faith. In fact, he says he started publicly describing his art as “Kingdom Music” as far back as the 2009 MTV VMA Awards. (However, that bit of news probably got overshadowed by a little Taylor Swift/Kanye West dustup you might have read about.)

And speaking of Kanye – Bentley is a G.O.O.D. Music affiliate. At this year’s SXSW Music Festival in Austin he performed at the headline showcase for Kanye’s record label/artist collective. And the two have a professional relationship that at least dates back to the “Everybody” single and video he dropped in 2008 that featured both ‘Ye and Outkast’s Andre 3000 (who grew up with Watkins in Atlanta, GA.)

Additionally, April 22 was Earth Day. One of C.O.L.O.U.R.S.’ key tracks, released last summer, is a song called “Greener” featuring Anthony Hamilton. Bentley said he’s always been fond of layered meanings within his music and used the “Greener” video to include subtle messages related to the conservatory nature of that title by filming it at a wind farm and powering several cameras on the shoot with energy created by those turbines.

“It’s about going to higher heights and newer horizons,” Bentley said. “That includes a greener and healthier diet and taking better care of the planet because we’re on borrowed time. Those that are Kingdom-minded understand that we’re citizens of heaven and are really just ambassadors here.”

As a Christian in the mainstream music industry, Bentley said he’s taken special notice of the “Religion and Hip Hop Culture” class rapper Bun B co-taught at Rice University this semester. The two have worked together in the past (and on this album) and reconnected in Austin last month.

Watkins said he’s proud that Bun’s former rhyme partner, Pimp C, is featured on the EP’s title track and that the deceased rapper’s verse on that song is profanity free.

“Everybody knows that Pimp had a way with words and could even make cursing sound like sweet perfume,” Bentley said. “But at my request, he kept it clean.”

Bentley said he also convinced all of that song’s collaborators (including Bun B and Lil Wayne) to donate their publishing income from it to the children Pimp C left behind.

Another highlight of the EP is a testimony track titled “Believe It” he recorded with Faith Evans. In the song, Bentley recounts a dramatic healing he received from a possibly cancerous tumor in his abdomen. It’s one he also performed at the’s Christian rap stage at SXSW.

Bentley said one of the most important things that other Christians can do for someone like him who proclaims his faith in the “secular” hip hop market is to pray for and encourage them.

“I know I have a voice that resonates and I could definitely use their help in gaining ‘angelic assistance’ instead of meeting ‘demonic resistance,’” he said.

Fonzworth Bentley’s C.O.L.O.U.R.S (Cool Outrageous Lovers Of Uniquely Raw Style) EP can be streamed in full at Select songs from the EP can be downloaded for free and others will be available for purchase via iTunes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Controversial rapper Nuwine headlines Easter Christian hip hop concert in Houston


Nuwine (aka Wine-O) will headline an Easter concert at First Outreach Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday, April 24 from 4pm to 7pm.

In the late-90's Nuwine was one of Houston's most visible Christian rappers with a "Ghetto Mission" TV show, frequent concert and evangelism appearances, and later a record deal with Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Records.

But over the last few years his music has gone in a more... shall we say... "adult" direction.

What he says and performs on stage Sunday will certainly be interesting.

Other artists on the bill include Bizzle, Still Trill Christians, S.O.M., 007 (5th Ward Boyz), Lil Raskull, and Gifted da Flamethrowa.

The event is being organized by Christian rapper Von Won who recently enlisted Nuwine to guest feature on his "One City Under God" record.

And now for some classic Nuwine: "One Million Souls."

Friday, April 22, 2011

He did it "For You" on Good Friday

One of my favorite "Good Friday" rap songs - "For You" by Knine perfectly meshed with scenes from Passion of the Christ.

Resurrection Sunday is almost here. We win!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

VID: At SXSW 2011 Bentley, Ruslan, D-MAUB, Solo, & Ambassador discuss keeping the faith in full-time music ministry

Here's another clip from my friends at Factor Effects of the artist panel discussion I facilitated at SXSW (South by Southwest) last month.

In this clip, Fonzworth Bentley, Ruslan (from theBREAX), D-MAUB, Solo from the Gospel Gangstas, and Ambassador answer Gifted the Flamethrowa's question about keeping the faith and being able to consistently hear from God when you're on the road and doing full-time music ministry.

Group 1 Crew Wins 2011 Dove Rap Awards is reporting that last night Group 1 Crew won both of the 2011 Dove Award categories dedicated to rap.

This is interesting considering that Lecrae's monster "Rehab" album was in the running for both trophies and did not win despite selling over 150,000 units so far. (Not that sales equal quality or awards, but it does give you an idea of the album's impact.)

Here's what the field looked like:

Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year
Song; album; artist; writer; label
  • “Background”; Rehab; LeCrae; Lecrae Moore, Andy Mineo, Alex Medina, George Ramirez, Joseph Prielozny; Reach Records
  • “Calling You”; Five-Two Television; KJ-52; Jonah Sorrentino; BEC Recordings
  • “No Be Nah”; Sex, Drugs and Self-Control; John Reuben; John Zappin, Seth Earnest; Gotee Records
  • “Too Many Fakes ft. Dwayne Tryumf & Victizzle”; The British Are Coming; JayEss; JayEss; Zoe Records
  • “Walking on the Stars”; Outta Space Love; Group 1 Crew; Manwell Reyes, Pablo Villatoro, Andy Anderson; Fervent Records/Word Records

Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year
Album; artist; producer; label
  • Between Two Worlds; Trip Lee; DJ Official, J.R, Joseph Priclozny, Trip Lee; Reach Records
  • Outta Space Love; Group 1 Crew; David Garcia, Andy Anderson, Christopher Stevens; BEC Recordings
  • Rapture Ruckus; Rapture Ruckus; Joe Baldridge, Rapture and Nic Manders; BEC Recordings
  • Rehab; Lecrae; Cheesebeats, PK, Benjah, J.R, Alex Medina, Sky; Reach Records
  • Sex, Drugs and Self-Control; John Reuben; John Reuben and Seth Earnest; Gotee Records
Last night Rapzilla also Tweeted that Lecrae performed "Background" and "God Is Enough" with CCM singer Natalie Grant.

Know your audience I guess...

VID: Ozone Magazine's Julia Beverly interviews Lecrae & Tedashii before Dove Awards

Ozone Magazine's Julia Beverly has been killing it with the video coverage lately.

It felt like I was shooting over her shoulder last week at the Bun B panel and Russell Simmons events. Now she's back in the mainstream rap rag's Atlanta home and interviewed Houston-connected Christian rappers Lecrae and Tedashii just before the Dove Awards.

Here's the full, nearly-20 minute shot where she asks them about the life of a "Christian rapper," where they believe they fit within the larger hip hop community, and how they interact with other mainstream artists in their field.

Interesting side note: According to this article and my own conversation with Julia - her parents are/were nondenominational Christian missionaries.

Also catch her full videos of:

The Ethics & Hip Hop panel discussion with Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Malice, Trae tha Truth, and Tre9 hosted by Bun B

Russell Simmons' visit to Bun B's classroom

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Great Day Houston" tackles faith and hip hop with Russell Simmons, Bun B, and Von Won

This morning's episode of "Great Day Houston" (aka the local version of the Oprah Winfrey Show) covered the intersection of faith and hip hop.

Deborah Duncan's show included several segments with:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lecrae links with Paradigm Agency / Sho Baraka leaves Reach Records


The 116 Clique boys continue to make moves toward new and broader audiences.

Over the weekend, it was announced that Lecrae had restructured his business relationship with Reach Booking and would now schedule engagement dates through the Paradigm Talent Agency (clients include: Coldplay, Aerosmith, Toby Keith, and in order to expand his brand.

In other words: Crayola is using a mainstream booking agent in an attempt to break out of the Christian music bubble and gain a wider audience who may not already share his worldview.

You can read the full press release here and join me in applauding and praying for the big homie on this effort.

And just days before, Sho Baraka announced that he would no longer be an artist under the Reach Records label. He'll still be on Reach projects this year and do some events and shows with them, but it appears his focus is now on the High Society collective he's formed with J.R., Swoope, and Suzy Rock.

He dropped the news via a statement posted on his Lions & Liars website.

However, I think it would have been a LOT more exciting if he had pulled a LeBron and just smugly announced he was "taking his talents" to High Society in a "Decision"-style special on TBN. Heck, I even have a "Journalist" in mind for the Jim Gray role. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

R.I.P. DJ Lace


As you may have heard, gospel hip hop's DJ Lace, aka Lawrence Stroman, went to be with the Lord late last week. The cause of death, originally reported as a heart attack, is uncertain.

His "homegoing" services will be held in Lithonia, GA tomorrow (April 20) and he will be honored in a variety of ways by a slew of affiliated DJ's in Atlanta this week for any of the Holy Hip Hop Awards, Dove Awards, and City Takers events.

Lace was the CEO and founder of New World Music and one of the founders of the Higher Ground Record Pool. Although Atlanta was his home, DJ Lace's roots can be traced back to Bronx, New York where he spun in the 70's under the name DJ Larry D.

He is survived by his wife Keshia, three children, his mother and father.

Official memorial information can be found online at

DJ Lace will most definitely be missed.

A few videos in tribute:

Recap: Bun B's 2nd "Religion & Hip Hop Culture" panel discussion with Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Malice (Clipse), Trae tha Truth, & Tre9

Tre9, Malice, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Trae tha Truth, and Bun B

As noted last week, Bun B brought out the big guns of thoughtful hip hop for a second, free public panel discussion as part of the "Religion and Hip Hop Culture" class he's co-teaching at Rice University in Houston.

Initially, the only announced guests were Talib Kweli and Malice from The Clipse. That alone would have been a blockbuster. Then he went and added Houston's Trae tha Truth and Tre9 along with "Mr. Lasers" Lupe Fiasco.

The topic was supposed to be about the ethics of hip hop. It touched on that, but naturally drifted in other directions - obviously venturing into a discussion about faith, literature, and social responsibility.

Talib Kweli & Tre9

The easiest way to recap is to simply let you see and hear some clips for yourself. So, sit back, buffer your browsers, and soak it all in. I've done my best to assemble them in chronological order but they may be off here and there.

I really hope the Rice University students, Houston, and Hip Hop at-large appreciate the contribution Bun B has made to the culture with this class and these events.

Video from

Video by Sketch the Journalist

Video by Sketch the Journalist

Video from

Video from Julia Beverly/Ozone Magazine

Video from

Video from Julia Beverly/Ozone Magazine

Video from

Uncle Rush talks success & spirituality in Bun B's "Religion & Hip Hop Culture" class at Rice U


On Thursday I had the opportunity to cover Russell Simmons' visit to Bun B's "Religion & Hip Hop Culture" class at Rice University for the Houston Chronicle.

As you can see above, the story ended up on page B4 of the City/State section.

Click here to read it on

Monday, April 11, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: 2nd public session for Bun B's "Religion & Hip Hop Culture Class" tomorrow night / feat. Talib Kweli & Malice (Clipse)

So... I just got word that tomorrow night will be the second, FREE and open-to-the-public session for Bun B's "Religion and Hip Hop Culture" class at Rice University.

Brought to you by the H.E.R.E. (Houston Enriches Rice Education) Project, I'm told it will most likely be a panel discussion and Q&A session like the event held at St. John's back in February.

I'm also told that Talib Kweli and Malice from The Clipse will be there and play a part.

Talib is a well-respected conscious MC known for his solo and side work with guys like Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek.

Meanwhile, Malice (previously known for his coke raps with brother Pusha T as part of The Clipse) has been making waves as an author of Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked - his musical and spiritual life story. (Read my interview with Malice about that here.)

Details on the event:

Tuesday, April 12 7pm - 10pm

Club Venue
719 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77002

If you're interested in how the last session went down you can read my recap posted here.

With Talib & Malice in the mix, it should be a great discussion.

UPDATE: According to the course's Facebook page, the topic will be "The Ethics of Hip Hop."

Bun B recommends Lecrae to this Twitter followers

One of the great things about Twitter is that if you follow the right combination of people you can see their back and forth conversations in real time.

Like this exchange yesterday when Bun B recommended Lecrae's music to his 197,000 Twitter followers.


As you may remember, "Professor Trill" is co-teaching a "Religion and Hip Hop Culture" class at Rice University this semester.

He's already had Houstonians Tre9 and 007 (of the 5th Ward Boyz) there as a guest lecturer to discuss Christian hip hop. Maybe Lecrae (who was born here) will be next?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wade-O Radio app featured in Wall Street Journal report

The Wade-O Radio Show and mobile app was recently featured in a report about faith-based technology by the Wall Street Journal.

With Wade-O's app you can stream episodes of his Christian hip hop radio show, full artist interviews (you only get excerpts in the podcast and over-air version), and receive exclusive music mixes and content.

Peep the video below to learn more and grab the app in either iTunes or the Droid marketplace. Also let me know how you like TWORS's news guy. I hear he's pretty good. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Grammys drop Christian rap

The Good News:

The Grammys have dropped that weird, hybrid Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album category.

The Bad News:

They're no longer recognizing Christian hip hop AT ALL. As of today the only options are Best Contemporary Christian Music Album or Best Gospel Album.

In other words: "Here's another Grammy Mr. Mac. And one for you too Mr. Franklin."

This morning The Recording Academy announced a restructuring which dropped the total amount of categories from 109 to 78.

After Lecrae lost the Grammy to Switchfoot earlier this year, I said that a Christian rapper would never win one of those trophies. Now I look like a stinkin' prophet.

The glass-half-full-view:

Maybe this will continue to push our artists further into the mainstream market where they can compete in the four remaining Rap Field categories.

Hey, it worked for Shad last month when he beat Drake for the Rap Recording of the Year Juno award.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

theBREAX turn to crowd sourcing for next album

San Diego-based hip hop and spoken word crew theBREAX is hoping to crowd-source $15,000 or more to support the release of their next album tentatively targeted for a December release.

Using as the launch pad, the group is offering a variety of incentive and sponsorship levels to help them pay for music videos, a legit media/PR campaign and a promotional tour in the fall and winter.

A portion of the funds they raise will also go toward paying their entry into showcases at several conferences throughout the nation that will host major decision makers and booking agents for the colleges where they are trying to get shows.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “Imagine if everyone in the Christian hip hop community got behind a single group or record we could really break into the mainstream” this might be your ticket.

Here's their video pitch:

To play your part, visit

In the meantime, they've been doling out free music each week via their "Remix Wednesdays" campaign. Track those down at:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My favorite song about crack cocaine

The homie Thi'sl finally released a video to go with his excellent song about the impact of crack.

You might remember I had Thiz's Chronicles of an X-Hustler ranked among my Top 5 releases of 2009. This track was one of many reasons why.

Monday, April 4, 2011

VID: The Best of the Worst of dc talk

Laugh all you want (it'll be darn near impossible not to - especially with these clips), but without these guys someone like Lecrae may not ever be welcome in your church.

Found at Jesus Needs New PR

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Joke: Bizzle’s God Over Money Records Signs Bumps INF


Many fans know “God Over Money” as the tagline for the hip hop movement sparked by Bizzle, the MC who created a massive online buzz with his Jay-Z’s got some “Explaining to Do” track/video and his The Messenger series of free mixtapes.

Today, it’s also the name of the label he intends to use to launch other like-minded rappers. First up: Cleveland, Ohio’s Bumps INF.

Bumps INF

Bumps INF’s fierce lyrics have recently been heard on his Who Is Mark James? EP and on Messenger mixtape songs like “Never Let You Go,” “I’m Gon Shine,” “Southernprayeristic,” and “CHRIST Reigns.”

“When I first started rapping about my faith and got labeled a ‘Christian rapper’ I wasn’t really sure how much talent was on this side of the cross,” Bizzle said. “But when I heard MCs like Bumps I was impressed and knew we should link up.”

Aside from its authenticity, the fact that Bizzle’s music is also gaining the attention of Grammy-winning producers like Boi-1da (Eminem, Drake, etc) and respected rappers like Malice (from The Clipse) makes joining the God Over Money team exciting for Bumps INF.

“God is definitely using Bizzle to make some waves in the mainstream rap market,” Bumps INF said. “Our prayer is that He can continue to see us as vessels available at His disposal to continue to give him glory through hip hop.”

Bumps INF’s first official GOM project will be a mixtape titled Who Is Mark James 2.0 to be released on April 19, 2011.

For more info visit: