Category Archives: Featured

Indie Spotlight: Broken ChainZ Band

Every so often you come across musicians on Youtube that you want to learn more about. A couple years ago I was watching some clips from the Village Underground in NYC and came across Broken ChainZ. I was immediately captured by the song, the sound, and their worship. I was able to catch up with the band to talk about their vision, sound, and debut album. Read it below!

TosinMoji:Tell me about how Broken ChainZ began.

L to R: Phinees, Juice, Carlin, Marcus, Matthais
Not Shown: Saeed

Jerry “Juice”:Broken ChainZ band started in summer 2009. It basically started out with me reaching out to some guys that I actually prayed about. God led me to some musicians that I believed could be a part of the sound and a part of this movement. I told them what God put on my heart to do as far as this freedom movement and what Broken ChainZ was about.

TosinMoji:What is this freedom sound that you talk about?

Juice: Basically it’s about liberation. The vision stems from Luke 4: 18-19 where Jesus said the spirit of the Lord is upon me for He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. One thing that stuck out is when He said to liberate the captives. I just believe that we have a lot of Christians who are still bound and we cover that up with attractive gospel music that really doesn’t hit the core. But overall there’s a lot of great and inspiring gospel music out there. But I just felt that there’s a rebellious generation out there that needs to hear an aggressive, in your face style of music with the message that let’s them know they can be free.

TosinMoji: I like that! So you all just released your debut album. Congrats! What was the process like?

Juice: What I normally do is I come to the rehearsal with whatever idea I have or whatever inspiration God has given me and kind of pull from their thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. We share this idea musically and make it into the sound that you hear on the album. The contribution from each of these guys is what makes the Broken Chainz sound what it is.

Phinees: This is probably the longest ministry/band I’ve ever played with. We all bring our own personality to the sound. Everyone plays a different instrument but I realized when you listen to gospel records you hear the same people playing the same thing. When I listened to the playback of the record I felt like I played this way on this song and on another one I sound like a totally different person. But it’s still the same personality. So I love how we make our own personality not fit in a box.

Marcus: This was initially Juice’s sound or idea and we all participated in carrying out that vision and bringing it to life. We have all been able to utilize what we have and be able to execute it in a way that it’s just a different sound.

TosinMoji: Your sound is very different from the typical gospel sound. How receptive are people to your music?

Juice: We’ve had our share of rejection simply because people do two things when they view something that’s different and new. They either try to destroy it or they run away from it. But you have those people who we are actually reaching out to who have a heart of the band because they hear a sound that their spirit or their soul is crying out for. So we definitely have the traditional crowd that’s not gonna get this album at all, but we’re not called to everybody. We’re just called to a certain few especially in this generation that see that these guys are young, fresh, dope, but they do love God.

TosinMoji: So I love the way you all have described your sound and vision for the project. What about the lyrics? Who writes them or is it a collaborative effort?

Juice: Simply because this is our first album it’s been me writing and Saeed would co-write. We would shoot ideas back and forth as far as where the song should go. These are songs that God’s given me either few years ago or just recently.

Marcus: Like I said, this was initially Juice’s idea but now that we are a lot more familiar with the sound and with each other we’re definitely going to make it more of a collaborative effort and put it together in the next album. We all have ideas to bring to the table.

TosinMoji: What are your favorite songs on the album?

Phinees: Freedom Cry. It’s the anthem of the band. It’s very cross-cultural

Carlin: Cross Anthem. It’s an aggressive song. I love the fact that it’s a hymn and we approached it differently.

TosinMoji: Yea I really like that song. It was interesting how you took that song and switched it up.

Juice: That was actually my pastor’s idea. My pastor told me you guys should do a hymn. I looked at him like ‘A hymn with our style? That would never work’. Lo and behold I was coming from a studio session and next thing you know it’s on the album.

Marcus: My favorite song might be Cross Anthem as well. It’s a hymn that’s been modernized and Broken Chainz-ized.

Matthais: My favorite is Merciful God. Most people like Cross Anthem and I love that song too but Merciful God is a worship song and I’m all about that.

Juice: I think my favorite song would have to be Musician’s Cry. Not because of the musicality of it but basically because of the relationship it has with me personally. The words are like my spirit speaking out loud. Every word from start to finish.

TosinMoji: What are your rehearsals like? I imagine they get quite interesting!

Juice: We have a couple of clowns. Carlin and Marcus are the funniest guys in the entire universe. They need their own T.V show. These guys will have you crying throughout the whole rehearsal. One thing I love about rehearsals is that we cry out to God. One thing that we do when we come to rehearsal is we speak out loud the things we are believing God to do in our lives. That’s our tradition. We don’t play first, we go straight into confessing and speaking those things that are not as though they are.

TosinMoji: Wow that’s amazing! How did that start?

Juice: It was something we did for the first time a couple years ago and the Spirit of God just said ‘This is us. This is what we do’. And we have witnessed God through us confessing and speaking those things in the atmosphere.

TosinMoji: Amen. What do you guys expect listeners to get from your music?

Matthais: When you get the album you should be prepared for the unexpected. You should be prepared for a sound that’s unprecedented. Be prepared for a spiritual whirlwind. Something different; it’s not something that you’ve heard before.

Juice:We want listeners to be engaged. It is our job to set the atmosphere and begin this journey to this place called freedom where people—young people—are not afraid to lift up their hands, jump, scream, shout, and just experience God in a way where they feel they’re not being judged. They can see young, black men who are radical and on fire for God. It’s not only about Jesus Culture, Planetshakers, or Hillsong. We have people right here in New York that are on fire for God.

Well there you have it! Listen to their debut album,Sound of War, Cry of Freedom, and you can certainly tell these young men are on fire for God–and want others to experience that same feeling. The album is amazing, both lyrically and musically. If you are looking for a new sound or just more music to add to your collection this is definitely a band to check out!

Watch their video for Freedom Cry!

Visit the Website

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Interview with Tim Bowman Jr.

When your father is a legendary jazz guitarist and your aunt a well-renowned gospel artist it’s hard not to follow those footsteps! Gospel newcomer Tim Bowman Jr. is doing just that with his Top 10 Billboard Gospel debut album, Beautiful.

I had the pleasure of chatting with him to get a little more insight on his journey to Beautiful.

TMS: First let me say again congratulations! I love the album! It’s been on repeat since the release. How does it feel to have just released your debut album?

TBJ: First of all thank you for taking the time to interview me. It feels great. It’s an overwhelming feeling. I didn’t expect it to have such an impact!

TMS:  It really is a great album! When I was listening to it I was trying to pick a favorite; but every song is my favorite. I really love “I’ll Try” though.

TBJ: Wow, thank you for that! That’s amazing.

TMS: No problem. How’d you come up with the title?

TBJ: It’s the title of the song I did with my father. We decided that would be the album title.

TMS: Cool, What was the recording process was like.

TBJ: It took about two and a half to three years. We recorded between 30 and 40 songs and narrowed it down to 13.

TMS: Wow, must have been a hard decision making those cuts! Did you do most of the writing on the album?

TBJ: I co-wrote about 8 of the songs. There was a core group of 4 of us who wrote for the album.

TMS: Your music is very eclectic. There’s pop, jazz, acoustic…everything really! Why did you decide to take that route?

TBJ: Well, I did that for two reasons. First, I listen to every genre of music. I try to find the best product of music. I love the simplicity of rock, the power of gospel, the sincerity of worship and the beats of pop. I wanted my album to show that. Also, we live in a day where we can go on iTunes and buy single tracks instead of records. But if people wanted to get a mix of music they can get the whole album!

TMS: That is a very interesting idea. But, did you feel you were taking a risk in making your album so musically diverse, especially in being a new artist?

TBJ: Of course! It’s a huge risk, but someone has to take it. I have nothing to lose!

TMS: You’ve been in the industry before this debut. I first heard you on “How I Got Over”. I remember getting the WOW Gospel 11 compilation and it was on there. I was like who is that scatting! I literally spent like 2 weeks trying to learn that. How did you learn how to scat like that?

TBJ: My father. I got the whole jazzy thing from him. When I was younger he would get his guitar and do little doodles and have me follow after him. That’s how I learned to scat.

TMS: That’s great. Not many people can master the art of scatting! With both your father and aunt being legendary artists did you feel any pressure growing up to fill their shoes?

TBJ: I feel like I had and still feel like I have big shoes to fill. They are trailblazers and amazing artists. But they don’t put any pressure on me. I just hope I can achieve half the things they did.

TMS: You will! Aside from them, who are some other musical influences?

TBJ: Wow. I have a lot. On the gospel side there’s the Clark sisters, Kim Burrell, Mary Mary, and the Winans. And I appreciate artists that do their craft well like Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Beatles, and Beyonce.

TMS: Wow that is a very eclectic list. Now I understand why your album is the way it is!

TBJ: Exactly! I listen to everything.

TMS: What do you hope listeners get from listening to you album?

TBJ: I hope people get an overall experience. I want the music to make them want to dance, worship, mellow out, chill out, praise…a whole mix of emotions! I want it to tell a story. I want them to take a journey.

TMS: Describe Tim Bowman Jr. in 3 words.

TBJ: Hmm, that’s an interesting question. I would say motivated, dedicated, and transparent.

Well, there you have it! Tim Bowman Jr’s dedication has landed him at #8 on the charts and he’s just getting started. It was truly a pleasure speaking with him and I’m excited to see what is in store for him in the future. He’s going to be touring so when he’s in your area…go see him!

In the meantime, make sure you get his debut album, Beautiful. It is amazing! Definitely music worth adding to your collection 🙂

Lecrae and the Great Commission

I have been a fan of Lecrae since Real Talk but lately I have really grown to love and appreciate his ministry! He is one of very few Christian artists that are visibly living out the Great Commission: Go and make disciples of all nations.

Not many Christian artists can break out of that label. (But then again, not all artists are called to reach the non-Christian). Of course, it isn’t a bad label; but it’s not one that’s going to reach the unbeliever. Let’s face it, people don’t want to be beat in the head with the gospel. They don’t want to hear that they are damned to hell fire unless they accept Christ. They don’t even want to hear that there is a God that can help them through their problems when life looks like it’s going downhill. People want real life; they want honesty. Unfortunately, many feel they can’t get that from a church full of hypocrites so they don’t turn to the church. Lecrae understands that.

With Lecrae receiving more mainstream recognition, he has now been afforded the opportunity to reach those that are not believers.

Other artists have tried to go mainstream to reach the un-churched; unfortunately a majority of them end up compromising the gospel. There is a thin line between meeting people where they are and conforming to their way of living. Very few Christian artists have mastered an effective way to minister the gospel in mainstream. Not only has Lecrae mastered it, he has done so in a way that is non-threatening. I mean, look at Jesus himself! He didn’t go through town saying “I am Jesus follow me or else!”. He met people where they were; He loved on them; He understood them and didn’t criticize. That is how people came to know and follow Jesus.

Lecrae is doing the same thing. He understands that people don’t listen to church folk because of all the hypocrisy. That is why I so appreciate the single off his mixtape. From the start he’s letting people know, Look I know there’s hypocrisy in the church, but I want you to look past the flaws of the church and get to Jesus. That’s a great message and it’s going to capture the unbeliever who is looking for a Christian to agree that the church has many, many flaws. Nobody wants to talk about it. It’s been swept under the rug for too long and I pray that this is going to open up the discussion and bring the issue to the forefront. I am so excited to hear Church Clothes, the mixtape he is releasing next Thursday and I pray it does two things. First, I pray that his mixtape allows people, namely the unbeliever, to look past the church and see Jesus. Unfortunately, the church isn’t always a good representation of Christ. Second, while Lecrae has said this mixtape isn’t really for his Christian fans, I pray that we listen to it as well and are moved to make changes in our own walk. The world is looking at us and it is time we are more Christ-like.

While some people are questioning Lecrae’s move to mainstream I firmly believe this is one of the best things he can do. Not just for his career, but for the Kingdom. My prayer is that he continues to focus on the Great Commission and doesn’t get caught up in the mainstream lifestyle that he has preached against. Let’s continue to lift up our brother Lecrae, his wife, and the whole Reach Record family!

New Music from Travis Malloy!

The wait is over!! Travis Malloy has just dropped not one, but two singles off his upcoming self-titled album, “Very Good” and “Yes to Your Will” ft. Tia Pittman.

I’ve been waiting for new music from him forever but the wait was definitely worth it! Travis and Tia are doing their good singing on these tracks! At the heart of his music, you can tell that Travis is a worshipper. Both singles will take you to that place!

Take a listen below and be sure to support him when his album drops on June 29th.

Check out the album cover!

Very Good

Yes to Your Will ft. Tia Pittman

Indie Spotlight: TRU Praise

Exciting. Creative. Crazy. Those are the three words that lead singer, Marcus Pass, used to describe the NY based group, TRU Praise.

TRU (Through Righteous Uplifting) Praise was birthed about 6 years ago out of the desire to create a “free sound”. One in which they were not confined to a particular style. “If we wanted to write in the salsa style we wanted to be free to do that”, said Pass. TRU Praise is on the path to make certain their music extends past the gospel sound.

Before putting together the group, Pass was a rapper and R&B singer. However, his transition to using his gifts for God is truly a testament to the strength that we find in Him. The day after he got saved, he had a concert in which he was going to perform a John Legend song. Instead, he was convicted to sing an original gospel song and, though it was a hard decision for him, that decision has most certainly led to great things!

TRU Praise, is releasing their debut album, Journey, on April 24th. The album title symbolizes both the “journey we have been on to complete the album…and a journey through life”, Pass explained. Each song tells a story as it flows smoothly into the next.

The message of TRU Praise is one of self acceptance. “It is okay to be who you are”, said Pass, “Whoever God made you to be. Just do what God has called you to do and I guarantee that you will be successful in Him.” His desire to push the message of self acceptance is a personal one. Initially, he felt like he wasn’t good enough and tried to be everyone but who God had called him to be. Now, with a clearer understanding of his purpose in Christ and the purpose of TRU Praise, he is out to spread that same message to the masses.

Through their ministry, TRU Praise has held onto Psalms 24:1. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. They believe that their message extends past the church walls. “We have held on to the truth that we were not created to minister to just the church”. Their calling is to reach the churched and the un- churched.

Marcus Pass left us with a word of encouragement for independent and underground artists that are striving to develop their craft: “Do the best with what you have. God said I will supply all of your needs. Always want the best but don’t hold yourself back because you’re waiting for the best.”

Please be sure to support this awesome ministry on April 24th! Also, be sure to follow them on facebook and twitter so you can stay updated on their ventures. The release of their debut album is just the beginning. Keep them in prayer as they continue to walk in their purpose.

Listen to their single, “Glad That I’m Saved” below.

TRU Praise Facebook

TRU Praise Twitter

Marcus Pass Facebook

Marcus Pass Twitter

New Music: Onitsha “I Believe”

Onitsha, is set to release her new single, “I Believe” on iTunes this Friday. Onitsha has done background work for Mary Mary and American Idol and is currently the voice of ABC’s new daytime show “The Revolution”.

She also has a mixtape Love, Onitsha and an album Church Girl under her belt.

Listen to a snippet of the new single below! I’m looking forward to more music from her!

NEW MUSIC: Janice Gaines

If you don’t know Janice Gaines you will certainly come to know and love her after listening to her music!

Hailing from Tennessee, by way of NYC, she is one of the worship leaders for the Women of Faith conferences. She is also married to EJ Gaines, founder of GospelPundit.

Her single, “One Word”, was released on NoiseTrade earlier this month. You need to add this to your music library!

By the way, I noticed that EJ hasn’t blogged about it. I’m guessing conflict of interest. I commend him for not showing favoritism. I know that’s hard to do when you have such a talented and anointed wife! So I’m going to do it for you EJ.

Everyone should get this single! It’s free!! And it’s amazingly beautiful. What more do you want?

The only disappointment I had is that it’s not an album!!!! So, I just resulted to replaying the song over and over!

Janice Gaines is currently working on her album.

FREE Worship Conference!! March 23rd and 24th

Do you love to worship? Are you looking to get to that next level in your relationship with God?

Then you need to be at this 2 day Worship Conference!!

Topics include:

Worship in the Valley
The Role of the Musician
How to Stay Kingdom Focused
WorshipHop

….and soo much more!

We have awesome speakers coming out. You do not want to miss this! It’s FREE!!!

Register NOW!!!

Visit www.nolimitsym.com and click on the “Total Surrender 2012” tab to register!

NEW MUSIC: FREDDY WASHINGTON

Who doesn’t like free music? Freddy Washington has just released The Jesus Record EP for FREE. All you have to do is head over to his website and download!!

For those of you that will be listening to his music for the first time…you will be surprised. Freddy’s sound does not look like his image at all! It’s not a bad or a good thing just a “wow…I was not expecting that”. That’s how I felt the first time I heard him anyway.

But this EP is well worth the download. I’m listening to it as I write! Great job Freddy 🙂

Go support his ministry!

Here is a preview of what you can expect on the EP.

Anthony Evans: What’s Going On?

I love NBC’s hit show “The Voice”. It gives starving and independent artists the chance to be judged on their voice alone. No more getting by on great looks or an awesome personality; it’s all about pure talent. With the judges’ backs to them, these hopefuls sing their heart out waiting for Adam, Cee-Lo, Christina, or Blake to turn around and offer a spot on their team. It’s always exciting (and nerve-wracking) to see young artists succeed during these blind auditions. The amount of unheard talent is so overwhelming! On this past episode, however, there was a voice that I knew all too well—Anthony Evans.

Anthony’s rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” landed him a spot on Team Christina. I, personally, didn’t feel it was his best performance but it was good enough to get him through to the next round. After his performance, I was left thinking “What’s going on?”

Anthony Evans joined the world of Christian music in 2001 when he began singing background for Kirk Franklin, who was also there supporting him. He released his debut album in 2004 and has released 5 more plus an EP since then. He is well known in the Christian music industry and is a sought-after worship leader. His resume is extensive; so what is an artist who seems to be making waves in the industry doing on a show that is geared towards propelling young talent into the industry? The answer lies in the ongoing struggle between Gospel and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM).

It is an unspoken truth that gospel is ‘black’ music and CCM is ‘white’ music. Unfortunately for Anthony Evans, his music labels him CCM but his skin color labels him gospel. For whatever reason, (well I have a couple reasons but don’t want to get too deep) it is extremely hard for blacks to be successful in CCM and whites to be successful singing gospel. During his interview on the show he said:

“The struggle that I have as a Christian artist is that people would say ‘Who is he like he needs to define himself as a gospel act or a contemporary Christian act’ and I wanted to define myself by being Anthony Evans which is straight up the middle”.

It’s not until the Christian music industry blurs the lines that artists like Anthony Evans will have consistent success. The truth of the matter is that when retailers sell albums it’s placed in a specific genre, which forces artists to define themselves while still trying to hold onto this idea of individuality.

Anthony Evans has a beautiful voice. I listen to his music all the time. His tone quality coupled with his clean runs gives his voice a slight R&B feel that is too ‘black’ for CCM but too ‘white’ for gospel. Yes, there is an R&B/urban category in the Christian industry; however, while his voice may excel there, his music won’t.

Recently, there has been a wave of artists—of all races—gravitating to this developing genre that seems to be the middle ground between gospel and CCM. That genre is praise & worship (or contemporary worship). I hear it all the time now when I go to different events: “I am a worshipper” or “I know we’ve already had our time of praise & worship but that’s what I do”. Though worship has always been around, I feel that artists like Israel & New Breed and Martha Munizzi used it to push the boundaries between gospel and CCM. This has been done before by 90s worship leaders (think Don Moen and Ron Kenoly) but I feel that it has recently been rejuvenated. Even already established gospel and CCM artists are increasingly incorporating worship songs on their albums. It has musical and lyrical elements of gospel and CCM. Kari Jobe, William McDowell, and Kim Walker (of Jesus Culture) are just a few artists that are marketed as worship leaders. That’s where this industry is moving towards. Anthony Evans is often called upon to lead worship, as many artists are now because of the large demand for it, but that’s not where his market lies; I wonder how well he would do if he focuses entirely on branding himself as a worship leader.

As an artist, whether you like it or not, you’re going to be placed in a box. It’s your marketing strategy that determines how big that box is. It’s a tough industry but I believe that God has a niche for Anthony Evans. His music has already touched my life and I’m sure that it has touched many others. I just pray that his goal to reach more people is not an itch for fame but rather a desire to touch more lives with the gospel. I wish him much success on The Voice and as he continues to navigate his music career.