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4th Elemynt - In Stores Now

Interview with 4th Elemynt
Going 4th

"We're very different from even contemporary Gospel. Real urban, real street, real melodious, our harmonies are really tight. A lot of people describe as the Dru Hill of Gospel music. We just take that and roll with it. We 4th Elemynt."

With that, DaWann Davis sums up the group in a nutshell. At 24, he is the eldest of the foursome, and in conversation, is soft-spoken, but confident. In fact, the entire group is surprisingly 4th Elemyntlaid-back, which is maybe not what you would expect, considering the intensity of their sound and the street creds of their look.

But it's that particular combination of self-assuredness, in-your-face urban presentation and humility that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that make you take notice of 4th Elemynt.

With Jesse Davis (22), Michael Sanchez (20) and Eddie Cole (17) joining with DaWann, it's Jesus all the way for this crew. Signed to Tonéx's MSS Records, they take on that label's Nureau mantle whole-heartedly. Sonically and visually, they bring forth street grit. On their debut project, Elemyntal (see sidebar below), they tackle issues with that same grit on a lyrical level, basing them on strong scriptural foundations.

Although their intense street look may turn some heads in Gospel circles, it is those lyrics that reverberate most significantly. Songs like "4NiK8", "I Wanna Love You" and "Leave Her Alone" certainly move away from some of the more standard song topics in Gospel.

DaWann chuckles softly when asked how their material is received. "Those songs, it's just about how we are. We like to talk about things that people don't want to talk about, because we're a group that's really on the edge. We want to push the envelope as far as it can go. It's straight up, and that's where we are, we're just straight up."

Elemyntal

With the full power of Tonéx's artistic finesse behind it, Elemyntal brings nureau Gospel Elemyntalto the fore as the debut of 4th Elemynt.

Featuring the production of T.Boy and 5'0, and with cameos from rapper Reality, the project hits hard in a jeepy, West coast style that hasn't been much explored in Gospel till now.

See full review.

On "Leave Her Alone", 4th Elemynt addresses the condemnation and gossip that the church can sometimes level at a new believer, someone who perhaps is still dealing with parts of their old life. The cut is significantly inspired from the New Testament account of the adulterous woman that Jesus refused to condemn.

"That song is just talking about how people in the church often talk about others, without even getting to know who they are. [The song] is just saying, 'leave them alone, you know, they're children of God, and they need to receive the word also.' You can't be changed in one Sunday, you can't be changed in two Sundays, it takes a changing of the heart, and God is going to change that, nobody else. A lot of traditionalists don't want to deal with the serious things in the church, as long as the tradition is going on, everything is fine. But we here to tear down those walls and let people know that the Truth is going to make people free", DaWann explains.

Likewise, "4NiK8" pulls no lyrical punches with potent lines like "I know I'm going to miss my blessing if I fornicate". DaWann say "It's just a song about being in a relationship with a girl, and loving her but not falling into sin."

All four guys come out of Loveland, a non-denominational church in Rancho Cucomunga, California. They each point to Clarence Williams Jr., the church's Minister of Music, as their mentor. "C-dub, he was very influential as far as teaching, building and broadening our vocals to where they are now", DaWann says on behalf of the group. Heavily immersed in church activities for years, the four came together through various youth groups and praise teams that they were involved in.

Other influences the group lists are John P. Kee, Fred Hammond, Daryl Coley, Commissioned and Men of Standard. Eddie quickly pipes in, "Oh yeah, and Tonéx!".

Jesse and Michael, of 4th ElemyntDaWann remembers the history. "Tonex came down to Loveland to sing a couple times. He saw a group I had then, and he asked me to put together a guy group, and so we just rolled with it. That was almost two years ago, May 1998."

So DaWann soon pulled together Jesse, whom he had sung with in other groups and praise teams over the years, and also the youngest member of the group, Eddie. "Eddie was playing drums, but we pulled him off to sing with us pretty quickly". Michael then joined the group later when he moved into the vicinity.

Things moved fast after that. With Tommy Boy Gospel in a joint venture with MSS Records, 4th Elemynt is set to experience the exposure and marketing push that goes along with major label connections and national distribution.

They're not resting on the their debut either. The group is already talking up their current work for their second project. More than that, there's also movement towards putting together their own production company. "It's called 4 Eternity Productions", says DaWann. "Right now we have a female vocalist, and we have a young guy, KP, who raps. He's 17 years old, and we're doing some stuff on him."

No doubt, this is a very assured crew. Opening up yet another door for Gospel, the buzz about 4th Elemynt has probably only just begun.


interview by Stan North





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