Interview With Amani
Dealing With Da Issues

What motivates a man to boldly go where no one has gone before? It certainly takes more than a Star Trek infatuation. To travel down uncharted waters with this industry takes courage, tenacity, and pure desire. As we are knee deep in 2000, one Amaniartist looks to take avenues not traveled in an effort to bring people closer to Christ. In times past, certain subject matter was considered taboo. However, Amani addresses several life issues on his recent project, aptly titled Issues of Life.

The hip-hop vocalist began his career in a humble fashion. "I started my career opening up for rappers Lil' Raskull and Nuwine. I'd sing some original tunes before they would perform," says Amani. In the midst of his travels, Amani was encouraged to record his own music and share it with the world. However, throughout the course of his musical journey, he found himself led to address varying issues that address the total person. "My music deals with what we as humans go through. As the body of Christ, we have to combat issues head on. We can't run away from the things that we face," declares the artist. "My album deals with all of the issues of life. From celebration to relationships, I'm charged to deal with this subject matter."

One of the subjects that Amani often addresses is interpersonal relationships. His recent project features several love songs that reach both single and married persons alike. "There has been a real void for Christians as to music that addresses relationships. I had a huge battle within me. I used to listen to secular music with my wife. God revealed to me that this music is not edifying for us to share love in. With that in mind, God inspired me to search the scriptures and find out the meaning of true love," he declares. "R. Kelly can't bring and keep marriages together. Therefore, I felt led to provide music that can minister to all couples. This music is God inspired."

Related Albums

Bishop T.D. Jakes entered theT.D. Jakes Gospel love song market in 1999 with his high-charting Sacred Love Songs project on Island Inspirational, featuring numerous guest artists. See the album review.

In 2000, Minister Chris Byrd forged with might Between the Sheets CDinto the same territory, with his Between The Sheets being the first in an urban-styled series for married couples. See the album review..

Amani knew that writing and performing music that is geared toward couples would ruffle some feathers. However, he has prepared himself for the potential fallout. " I'm not trying to please traditional ears with my music. I'm trying to do what God wants. My confirmation that I'm in His will is that when I was in the studio writing this music, Bishop T.D. Jakes released his Sacred Love Songs project. That showed me that I was doing exactly what God lead me to do."

The Diamond Cut/ Grapetree artist feels a strong responsibility towards both married and unmarried couples. "I believe that marriage counseling should start when folks are young. So many folks don't understand the purpose of marriage and sex in marriage. There are many Christians who are really struggling with having sex before marriage. I want to show folks that sex is not a bad thing when it's in its proper perspective. People don't understand intimacy or what the Bible says about sex. I believe that you should be able to enjoy what God has given you. For many, this music serves as a preventive medicine and an agent in God restoring marriages and relationships," says the St. Louis native.

Amani's focus on relationships has resulted God using him to impact greatly in many lives. "Since the album's release, I've been asked to do marriage conferences and have seen my music used in weddings. There are also many folks who have just wanted to say thanks. People are excited because there is finally an alternative to secular love songs," he declares.

But while he has found success in addressing these issues from his heart, Amani has also received his fair share of criticism, and has found many things that go the industry to be a bit disheartening. "There are too many artists who are compared to each other and pitted against each other. [Some] media outlets [can be] more concerned about hot beats than actual ministry. One magazine ripped my project to shreds. They just dogged me and it hurt because this music is from my heart," says Amani."

"Too many artists want to be celebrities and superstars. We have to remember that we're all servants for Christ and that Jesus Christ is the only star. None of us have the Issues of Life CDright to be a star. We have to begin to edify one another and not minimize our efforts. I want to be the best that I can for Christ. After all, God may really be our only audience. How would we react to Him if we realized that He was our only audience?"

In the midst of the obstacles that he faces, Amani continues to grow strong and accomplish his mission. He recently toured several colleges and was slated to make an appearance at the recent Azusa Youth Conference sponsored by Bishop Carlton Pearson. He's also in the studio working on his second project, where he will continue to address Christian relationships. "The new project will be geared toward anyone. For those who are married, it will solidify your marriage. For the single, the project will take away the fear of marriage," states Amani.

With his courage and desire to follow God's will is destined to solidify him as one of hip-hop's boldest soldiers and a unique Gospel talent. Indeed, Amani is successfully handling the "Issues of Life".

interview by Gerard Bonner

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