Are You Ready for Da Nu Vibe?

(Editor's note: this editorial was written back in the summer of 1998....)

As many are aware, 1998 has really been a monumental year in gospel music. Never before in the history of this genre have we seen a time when this genre has been presented in a more prolific, efficient, and pertinent manner. The urban market is thriving in ways previously unheard of thanks to artists like Tonex, Fred Hammond, and Trin-i-tee 5:7. In fact, with all of the happenings in this year alone, one might wonder what is next for the gospel music masses.

Well, one thing that has always been true about our Savior, and consequently, about His people, is that He always meets people at their needs. The result of that is that the body of Christ is often introduced to new and seemingly unfamiliar concepts. The introduction of praise and worship, jazz, and urban rhythms have defined an awesome period for gospel music. However, there are some new things on the horizon. The question is...are you ready for this new vibe?

1998 is bound to end on an interesting note and indeed there are some new things headed for the masses. For the eighteen months, in various publications, I've stated the need for Christians to have romantic music that they can listen to when they are with their special someone. I've been often criticized for this opinion but someone in this industry heard me. And now, the world will soon be exposed to Christian romance music thanks to none other than...Bishop T.D. Jakes!!!

For those unfamiliar with Bishop Jakes, this prolific author, orator, and preacher has been to preaching circles what Kirk Franklin has been to music industry circles. Jakes is the single most sought out preacher of the day, drawing tens of thousands to his speaking engagements and conferences regularly. His unique ministry really began receiving national exposure through his Woman, Thou Art Loosed campaign. From there, Jakes' ministry experienced a snowball effect, resulting in him being one of the single most influential men in the church world.

This influence is allowing him to do what some will certainly deem as one of the most controversial moves since God's Property's "Stomp". Jakes has signed a deal to present this Christian romance music with Island Black Music, current home of Karen Clark-Sheard, Luke, Dru Hill, and Kelly Price. Everything about this deal is totally non-traditional. Add to that, slated to perform on the first single, "The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord" is R&B legend Shirley Murdock. The collaboration is simply out of this world, yet has the possibility of being the most sought after projects in recent memory.

Why, you ask? Let's face it, Christians need love too and it's time to stop denying that. It seems as though Bishop Jakes would be the only one who could bring this project to the masses.

However, the new Christian romance music isn't the only thing that the Christian world needs to brace itself for. Are you ready to see urban gospel go to the next level? Sounds like an overused cliche, huh? However, there is an artist that is coming that really is going to really change the scope of gospel music forever. His name...J. Moss. He's being heralded in many circles as "the gospel Timbaland".

Moss is undoubtedly the most progressive producer and artist in the business today and has made a tremendous impact on this industry in the last 12 months. With tremendous production work on the latest projects from Karen Clark-Sheard, Greg O'quin 'N Joyful Noyze, and Dawkins & Dawkins, he has positioned himself to be the new king of urban gospel. He also has recently joined the Island Black Music family and has the single most progressive sound in the industry today. With the recent backlash that many artists have received for signing with secular labels, Moss' addition to the roster will certainly make some serious noise. Add to that, Moss can legitimately compete with any artist on that roster (and any other roster for that matter) and you have serious crossover appeal as an issue. Is the Christian arena ready?

The reality of the new wave that is coming is that it is not going away. Add to these releases, the arrival of The Nu Nation Project from Kirk Franklin, the emergence of Tommy Boy Gospel, and the ensuing Puffy Combs gospel release and the Christian world will indeed be spinning on its ear. Gone are the days of strictly feel good, safe gospel. Gospel is indeed progressing with the times and now you must answer the question...Are you ready for 'da nu vibe'?

editorial opinion by Gerard Bonner

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