How To Be A Christian DJ Series: Imagine Me
Imagine a car zooming down the street bumpin' with heavy bass. You assume that it's another thug blasting Gangsta Rap lyrics, but then you hear a raspy, soulful voice hollering out the name of Jesus over a kickin' drumbeat and a familiar music sample from a once popular Mainstream song ... What?!
Imagine the movie musicals popularized in the 1980s. Except, this time the storyline is about a young person who changes his town or church by introducing them to Christian Hip Hop, Rock or Jazz.
Imagine the popular House Party movies of the early 1990s. Only, this time the kids are dancing to the infectious grooves of KIRK FRANKLIN, P.O.D., SUNNY HAWKINS, OUT OF EDEN or JARS OF CLAY.
I ask you to imagine, because I want to dare you to see the world the way I see it. But then, I'm the kind of cat who'll be listening to some cool, instrumental Jazz one minute, a CONWAY TWITTY compilation the next minute and a Gospel Quartet an hour later. So you'll have to excuse me. Maybe that's why they call me TruSoulDJ. Because I can find the soul in most every singer; a soothing melody in the most unique of places.
TruSoulDJ? Yeah, because I dig deep into dusty crates, clearance bins and other neglected places to find music that was either "slept on" when it was originally released or just long forgotten. I hunt for obscure gems that may not realize their true value until I expose them to you. I don't care about the color of a singer or musician, just the soulfulness of their voice and the quality of their musicianship. Which means that I will ignore Top 40 or whatever the so called "experts" deem a hit; not bound by commercial appeal, just appeal in general. Sing me a good song, give me a good message and I will reward you with repeated plays and word of mouth.
What I hope to do in the future is expose you those true artists whose music is out of the box, off the hook and beyond the fringes of what you may consider Christian music to be. In fact, I hope to inspire you to feel the way I did when I borrowed an AMY GRANT cassette back in 1988. Or the way I felt when I discovered a blue-eyed soul singer in 1989 who sang, wrote, produced and played almost exactly like STEVIE WONDER. Can you dig that? I mean, really ... imagine.
Imagine Blues singers with hope in their lyrics. Imagine multi-cultural choirs and Rave music with samples of sermons mixed in. Can you imagine that? Because if you're willing to take the trip with me, I'd like to tell you abou the so-called Secular artists who have either sang background for Christian artists or gone so far as to perform duets with them on record. Don't believe me? How about picking up a Christian CD and recognizing the voices of BOYS II MEN, VAN MORRISON, GLADYS KNIGHT or PATTI LABELLE? Or browsing for CDS in a Christian music store and finding releases by GEORGE DUKE, SMOKEY ROBINSON, PAUL JACKSON JR., DEBRA KILLINGS (bassist for The Monique Show ), JENNIFER HOLIDAY, KELLY PRICE, DAVID HOLLISTER, BILL MEDLEY, GRANT GOODEVE or JANET JACKSON'S former in-laws, THE DEBARGE FAMILY.
Truth be known, there is a lot about the Christian music industry that the world at large doesn't know about. Why? Because by nature, we want to purchase and listen to the music that our peers purchase and listen to. We don't want to sing a song that nobody knows and look strange for liking it. Maybe like me, you have a cousin who laughs or turns his nose up at anything that is different or not recognized by the more commercial side of Hip Hop culture.
In the end, there has to be someone who will stick his or her neck out to be an individual. The one who'll walk the narrow road and swim against the flow. If not for dynamic leaders who have dared to change the course of history, where would we be? So how about it? Interested?
Singer, songwriter, producer, Montrel Darrett; former member of Urban Gospel supergroup, COMMISSIONED
If I mentioned the names -- LECRAE, T-BONE, SCOTT BLACKWELL, KJ-52 or CROSS MOVEMENT ...Would you know who I was talking about? Probably not. But if i said ... LIL KIM, JAY Z, 50 CENT, EMINEM ... You'd no doubt know automatically. Probably because you purchased or allowed your child to purchase some of their product. Never mind the fact that one of these performers has made a name for herself by parading around half naked. Or that one so called "artist" made tunes about doing unspeakable things to his child's mother, as well as his own mother.
I once heard a pastor mention how a young person cursed out a youth worker one Wednesday night. Or maybe you've heard the profane lyrics blasting out of a car as it parked or drove across church property. Still again, I once tried to introduce a young man to the joys of Christian Rap, only to have his mother say that, not only couldn't he listen ... But if he was going to listen to Rap, he might as well listen to regular Rap. But in her defense, that was 5 million rump shakes and 200 million curse words ago.
Can we really get wigged out when our young brothers and sisters disrespect authority, bring guns to school and put obscene photos on MYSPACE? I mean after all, we're dancing to their music with them and allowing them to have sex and drink with their boyfriend/girlfriend in our basements. I mean, if we allow them to consume anything and everything that popular culture has to offer ...
Don't get me wrong though. Everything in Mainstream culture isn't poison. And there have even been a couple of Christian rappers who have tried to justify using the "N-word" in at least one song on their CD. However, as a whole I believe that more can be done to help young listeners with their musical choices. By the way, those names I mentioned at the top of these ramblings are those of Christian rappers making an impact on many of today's youth across the country. And one of those names was of a Christian DJ who specializes in Club music (aka House, Techno, Rave) for the Christian market.
True we can't control everything that our kids consume, but we can control what they are exposed to when in our presence. Which hopefully will lay a foundation for what they do when we are not around. As well, if you own a business like a mall, a restaurant or a skating rink, then you have the power to expose the world at large to positive/edifying music. I mean, if there can be a Hard Rock Cafe, a House of Blues or a Rock & Roll McDonald's ... Where are the Christian equivilents.
Why do I care? Because I'm a father foremost. But before I was a father I developed a heart for the needs of kids. Kids ... You know, the ones that aren't wearing cornrows in public just because some rapper suddenly made it cool. The ones who aren't allowed to be clones of thuggish friends and relatives ... But then, those kids need us too, don't they? Because those thuggish kids --even though misguided adults have exposed them to mature themes and topics-- still get excited about simple praise songs learned in Vacation Bible School and showing Mom and Dad prizes won for good work at school.
As a former board operator at a popular Christian radio station, I've seen the power of a good song first hand. I've seen a General Manager and Station Manager underestimating what their listeners want to hear; rebellious board operators breaking the rules on the night and grave shift. And instead of an outcry from listeners, the phones would light up with expressions of excitement and praise. Excitement because just the right lyric; just the right melody struck a chord, encouraging their heart and bring a smile to someone's face. So imagine the effect of constant exposure to dark lyrics/negative messages.
I dare you to invest in more positive music for your house --even if you don't prefer the particular style yourself. Take your child to a Christian music store and let them preview snippets on the listening station and pick out a CD that piques their curiosity. Then as they listen, watch the light turn on in their eyes.
TruSoulDJ is a self proclaimed expert on all things trivial to the Mainstream. He is an avid classic comic book reader, non popular music lover and tv-show-on-dvd binge watcher who shops the clearance racks near and far to find the best deals. He would like to think he knows everything important within the realm of Pop culture. But in actuality, he only knows about 99.9 percent of what he thinks he knows.
Roger Troutman's voice box legacy lives on with this dance worthy project from his nephew, Rufus Troutman.