Ambassador Interview

William Branch aka Duce and more popularly known as the Ambassador, is back with his sophomore album, The Thesis, a dope release crammed with nuggets. Ambassador spoke with GOSPELflava.com about his Masterís Degree in Theology, about reaching the culture of hip hop, and of course about The Thesis.

GOSPELflava.com: Congratulations on receiving your Masterís Degree in Theology. Can you explain to us the importance of this for you?

Ambassdor Ambassador: Primarily, what God has purposed for me exceeds rap. It is to be as equipped as I can be for the work of ministry. It came to a point where I wanted the rigors of a more formalized training. I wanted the deadlines. I wanted the pressure and the intensity of what some of our academic institutions put on learning.

Originally, there were not enough African American Bible teachers and scholars in some of your traditional Bible college circles. It seemed to be primarily white. I was like, "Yo whatís up with the blacks here?" They said, "Well, most of the blacks are not qualified for what we are looking for, or they would rather pastor a church." I asked, "Whatís the minimum that I can have?" They said, "A Masterís in Theology." So I said, "Let me get at least that", which would give me an opportunity to get into an academic institution and be teacher.

GOSPELflava.com: Why did you title the album The Thesis?

Ambassador: The Thesis was predicated on a thesis that I wrote when I was finishing up at Dallas Theological Seminary. I believe that there is one point that needs to be validated in society, and that the need is [especially great] in hip hop. Namely, that Jesus Christ be Ďin ití. Him being "put in it" as well as His input being included in it. That is the double meanint of Ďinputí, Him being Ďput iní and His input. Some people put Him in, but they donít want His input. They donít want to hear His preferences.

So I termed the album The Thesis because itís a bottom line. Itís a solitary point. That is, hip hop needs Jesus. I have a mission that [goes futher than simply] rap, and it is to carry out the Great Commission. So thatís why I named it, The Thesis.

GOSPELflava.com: In some circles, there has been some discussion that the term "Hip Hop" is in and of itself Satanic and ungodly. What is your take on the subject?

The Thesis
CD Ambassador usually has at least one jam to dance to, with commercial radio appeal. This time out, he delivers with "Get You Open", even rapping in a different tone to match the sparsely-loaded percussion and beat. Ambassador spits out "bass, shake, clap", with the rhythm of those sounds... Full Review

Ambassador: Why do we use the term Hip Hop? First of all, the Bible has not called us to destroy everything in the world. We are called to live in the world. What we, as believers, do not do, is to demand that everything have Christian origin. We canít. Thatís not reasonable. Itís not even what God is after. Hip Hop is just another thing in society that has a right to exist. It just doesnít have the right to be in rebellion against God. Not that we have to change every term that is not inherently religious. We donít correlate something to basketball to make it more Christian. You donít have to change everything. So weíre saying, "Wait a minute." Hip Hop at its core is not inherently evil. So why do you change it? Itís not like we change anything else.

Placing an adjective on it has altered this Hip Hop. We have termed it Christian Hip Hop or Holy Hip Hop. Thatís our way of changing it. So we donít change Hip Hop. Thatís just another earthly topic. Weíve modified it. Some people donít want to place Holy or Christian in front of it. They just want it to be Hip Hop. We have done it because we believe that the modification in light of what Hip Hop is makes you think. When you hear it, you think of all the things that are not related to God. We gladly added the term Christian to Hip Hop to let them know to expect something different from us.

GOSPELflava.com: The Todd Bangz-produced "Oh Wretched Man" is a clever jam, and you use the sample of the same title from the popular group, Acappella. What was the thinking behind that one?

Ambassador: Iíll be honest with you. Bangz had already done that track. I seized it and said, "I hear a perfect way to deal with the true problem with Hip Hop today, which is the nature of man." The problem with Hip Hop is not the hip or the hop —but the heart. "Oh Wretched Man" being that it [samples] a Christian group, might trigger some things in the Christian community. Itís a beautiful peace. We just wanted that to be our inroad to deal with the issue of the heart. Some people say that their [wretched] condition is because they didnít Ambassdorhave a father in their life or that itís the genes. No, itís the heart. Itís the wretchedness of who we are. If I change the heart, we began to see a change in the behavior of Hip Hop culture.

The song also makes for a banginí move on the marketing side. Itís a good marketing strategy to use that [familiar] song and blend it with Hip Hop. Other than that, the genius is Bangz. I just took it and used it for my purposes.

GOSPELflava.com: Would you say that there is a particular section of society that you see especially needs to be reached for Christ?

Ambassador: Right now, we believe that Hip Hop is the way to reach the broad spectrum of society. I believe that today is the Hip Hop generation, with people having grown up in the era. So we want to reach that generation of people that have parents who gave up on the church. We want the parents to come back. We want to tell their kids, "Yo, whether your parents come back or not, there has been a drift away from God."

Thatís why I say in the song, "Back Home", that Ďweíre all apart of the original fall of Adam. In Adam we all fall, and we fell all the way." Iím talking about those that have fallen away from even hope. The church has been an institution of hope in times past. When you leave the church, you almost fall away again because you drift from the institution that God planned to bring hope. We want to reach generations, people who are into Hip Hop more fervently than they are into any other source of knowledge.

Itís almost like, "Where do you get your info from? Who makes you cheer? Where do you get your anthems from?" Most people say, "I find a radio hit, and it becomes my anthem." We want to give them new anthems to cheer. We want to give them new themes to uphold by sending them through the Hip Hop pipeline. It will be stuff that comes from God. Those who are into Hip Hop more fervently, thatís who we want to reach.

GOSPELflava.com: DJ Offical produced most of the CD, and he has been a fixture on many of the albums from Cross Movement Records. Tell us about the chemistry you have with Official.

Ambassador: Official is from New York. Iím from New York originally. Heís the closest producer in proximity to me. He works at a pace that allows him to submit mad stuff. He always seems to make the kind of stuff that I just personally like. Iím close to him. Sometimes itís hard Ambassdorto get stuff from him because heís always doing things for different people. I often find myself getting his stuff and having vision for it. I donít even know. I never really thought about the chemistry, but I do acknowledge it. I donít know how it happened, but he usually does stuff that is right up my alley.

"Get You Open" was an incomplete beat to him. I just heard the beat as you hear it. He said, " I started something and I ainít finished." I said, "Donít touch it." One day I was lost, and I kept playing that beat over and over again. I said, "This is going to be one of those simple joints." Itís not going to be weighty. Itís going to be something that get cats open. I just started thinking, "What can I do man?" I started thinking that "Maybe I can sort of mumble the words." I wasnít going to do it, but one day I had some more studio time. It was crunch time, and I had a certain amount of jams that I wanted on the album. "Get You Open" was the only one that didnít take any work. When it was it was finished, I was like, "Yo this is going to be one of the ones (commercially speaking) that is going to catch people." And sure enough, people are saying, "Man, thatís the one right there."

GOSPELflava.com: Some say that Christian rappers donít much recognize the importance of worship. How important is worship to you?

Ambassador: Well, worship is fundamental for the person who has had a glimpse of the Lord. Sometimes, when you see someone with jewelry or if you see a certain car, your eyes widen. Itís glorious. It makes you react to it. "Hey look at that car" or "Hey, look at homegirl." Thatís what beauty does. It makes you esteem it, and gives it a certain kind of worth.

You donít give everything the same kind of worship. The true meaning of worship is "worth ship". God is most beautiful, most glorious, most grand. According to Isaiah 40, "Who will you compare Me to? Who is like me?" All of a sudden, the unhindered soul begins to worship. To me worship is foundational. Itís fundamental. Itís easy because God is who He is. Thatís why I did the jam "We Worship You". I think Hip Hop has to be taught that itís cool to be more than just hardcore. Itís natural to ascribe and esteem God in glory. "We Worship You" is my attempt, is my way, to have a rugged kind of leading of the hard core community. There are male voicess in the chorus, and it ainít pleasant to the ears. Itís monotone. I just envisioned a room full of men being able to lead that, even though females may be in there. I want to see more males in that sense of worship without having to be religious with it, and by religious, I mean the thinking that you have to fall out and you have to go into all sorts of antics.

Worship is a lifestyle. Itís the intent of the heart.

There you have it. Ambassador has become stronger, his skills are even better and he has an ever-broadening vision. His mission is still the same — winning souls to Christ and challenging believers. With The Thesis, Ambassador has a hot album, a tight crew along side him, and Jesus inside his heart.

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interview by Dwayne Lacy

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