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Intersection of Life and Faith

GOSPEL GANGSTAZ

  • 1999 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
GOSPEL GANGSTAZ

"Most rappers, whether secular or Christian, tell real life stories about what they see, feel and want. Our music doesn't just tell a story but also resolves to a positive note and offers the listeners inspiration, education, empowerment, encouragement and information to build their lives."
Gospel Ganstaz' Mr. Solo


The {{Gospel Gangstaz}}' story could easily be made into a TV movie - one of those cheesy "Movie of the Week" deals on NBC, with some sort of title like "From Menace To Ministry." Everything's here - drug busts, gang activity and inner city crime, with an inspiring twist at the end. In this case, the "twist" is their acceptance of Jesus Christ and a new, successful career in the rap music game. But the lives of group members Tik Tokk, Chille' Baby, and Mr. Solo are much more than fodder for a movie script.

The details have been spilling out in their infectious but startlingly realistic form of hip-hop ever since 1994, which saw the release of their controversial but critically acclaimed debut album, ==Gang Affiliated==. Five years, one strikingly mature sophomore effort (1996's ==Do Or Die==) and a label change later, the Gangstaz have returned with glitzier, dancefloor-ready beats, intelligent rhymes, and one heck of an album - ==I Can See Clearly Now==.

Derek Walker: Are you proud of the new album? What specifically are you the most proud of about it?

Tik Tokk: We are happy about the new album. It can be a long process putting together a concept, selecting producers, studios, writing lyrics, beats, getting the right hook...God really ushered us through the process with ease. So yes, we are happy, excited and blessed about the finished product.

DW: How do you see Christian rap evolving over the past few years? Are we getting better, worse, etc.?

Chille' Baby: Obviously, there are a lot more rap groups on the scene now than there were when we first came out. The quantity of artists is becoming competitive with the mainstream world, but the quality is still lacking.

DW: You caught a good amount of flak after the release of ==Gang Affiliated== from people who didn't feel that gangsta rap could be Christian. Looking back on it, how did it feel?

Mr. Solo: We were only doing what God led us to do. We're never really swayed by adversity, if anything, it encourages us to move faster and with more tenacity.

DW: How have you evolved as artists over the course of the last couple of years?

MS: Our objective is to always get bigger and better with anything we do, especially as it relates to music and ministry. Our subject matter never really changes because we have a specific aim and direction with our ministry, but our beats, production, styles, and lyrics are always going to the next level.

DW: ==I Can See Clearly Now== is a lot more upbeat and danceable then the last 2 records. What led to having a more club-friendly sound?

TT: Our sound for this record was enhanced a lot by the A&R reps from Interscope and Universal Records, who have worked with artists like Tupac, Teddy Riley, Eminem, David Hollister, and the whole Death Row roster. Because rap music is their business, we gave them the liberty to present material (beats and producers) to us that would work for the streets and the clubs, then we collectively selected the bomb hits. And of course, we wrote down the crackalatin', off the meter lyrics that would deliver, set free and make your head bob at the same time!

DW: In your opinion, who are the best emcees working these days, either Christian or secular?

ALL: Jay-Z, Redman, DMX...lyrically they put songs together well and with a lot of thought. Their beats and production are tight...of course Tupac and Biggie are at the top of the list.

DW: Do you guys feel ready to take over the mainstream with your music?

MS: We're prepared to go wherever, whenever. In the past month, we've performed with Trick Daddy, JT Money, Goodie Mob, Wu-Tang, David Hollister, Eve, {{Trin-i-tee 5:7}}, Dr. Bobby Jones, Vicki Winans, and the list goes on. It's really a blessing that God has anointed us and given us favor to reach such a broad audience. We're trying to be faithful stewards with what He's given us.

DW: How do you feel God works through the art of hip-hop and rap? How does he work through you?

MS: Rap is the musical expression of the streets...most rappers, whether secular or Christian, tell real life stories about what they see, feel and want. For us, we're able to add the element of what God has done and is doing in our lives. This ministers to young people because they can relate to this expression of music. Our music doesn't just tell a story but also resolves to a positive note and offers the listeners inspiration, education, empowerment, encouragement and information to build their lives.

DW: What are your favorite songs from the new album and why?

TT: "Questions," "Once was Blind," "Let us Pray," "Live it Up," "One Way," "Operation Liquidation," "I'm Be Good," and "Whatcha Gonna Do."

CB: The whole album takes us on a roller-coaster ride -- there are peaks and valleys that minister to different areas of our lives and our intent is that it will do the same for the listener.

MS: When an artist is given the creative freedom to express themselves without being censored, you can get to the heart of that artist...what's going on inside of them, how they feel, what they want to share. This record is US - as the rest of our recordings have been - and we hope y'all feel it and are blessed by it.

DW: What do you hope to do in the future with your music? What are the {{Gospel Gangstaz}}' future plans?

CB: We've got great management who are busy soliciting soundtrack opportunities, clothing endorsements, movies, compilation opportunities, tours, and other performance opportunities. You name it!

TT: God is ordering our steps to tread in places that a lot of people have not had an opportunity to experience, and we thank Him for that.