Interview With T-Bone
Rare and Well Done
When you think of a T-bone, what comes to mind...a bountiful meal with all the trimmings?
— interview by Brenda M. Ingram II —
Well, that is exactly what T-Bone, one of the top selling Christian rap artists in history, delivers in his latest entree, The Last Street Preacha. Prime choice cut tracks that make your head bob. Seasoned, lyrical, tongue-twisting escapades that leave you asking for seconds. Tantalizing production and sweet beats offering spicy rhythms to appease any rap lover's palette. And best of all, Christ-centered verse that will minister to any hungry heart.
T-Bone, the bilingual, lyrical tongue-twister, has resurfaced after a 3-year sabbatical, releasing an album that has shattered the record books with his latest rendition. The Last Street Preacha ranks as the first rap album to come in at #7 on the overall Christian sales charts.
In a candid interview with GospelFlava.com, T-Bone shares where he has been, where he is now, and where he is going, giving us the 411 on his ministry, his career and his life in the process.
GospelFlava.com: Where did the name T-Bone come from and how did you get started in the rap business?
Actually the name 'T-Bone' hails for the streets of California. During my childhood, I was dubbed 'Bones' because I was so skinny. The letter 'T' was added to give the name a little slang edge, hence the name 'T-Bone' was born. When I gave my life to Christ, I kept the name, but changed the definition. Now, the 'T' stands for Talking. The 'B' is for Bibilical and the "ONE" is exactly what it says...'One'. So T-Bone really means 'Talking Biblical ONE'.
My jump start in the rap business happened over 19 years ago, which proves that I am not a novice at this. I started rapping at the tender age of 7. I would rap at parties and in rap battles. I was really close to getting a secular record deal back in the day. After I came to Christ, I opened for a noted rock group at that time and actually got signed that night. The rest is history.
GospelFlava.com: You had a 'hoodlum' theme on your past albums. But The Last Street Preacha comes with a different edginess than your previous releases. What do want to accomplish with this album? Do you want to transcend the Christian community and infiltrate the secular music world with this release?
T-Bone: The basic theme with the first few records was to share my life with the world. The 'hoodlum' penned albums were like chapters of a book. God ultimately closed those chapters and opened a new book, bringing forth The Last Street Preacha. The 'new and improved' T-Bone has a whole different outlook and perspective in life. With this album, I want to bring it back to basics. For so many years, I struggled with competition and trying to be the best rapper. I can really share this because I have been delivered from it. So many Gospel rappers stray away from their first love, which should be Christ, and want to represent their side. My goal with this album is to leak into the secular industry by taking the cross over. I want to be able to get this music into the hands of those that are lost.
GospelFlava.com: How did you come up with the innovative idea to be a bilingual lyrical tongue twister? Do you wish to break cultural barriers with this style?
T-Bone: I would have to credit my heritage for that. Having a Hispanic upbringing really shaped my way of communicating, I grew up talking both Spanish and English so that's the way I represent. I pray that this style, backed by the power of God, destroys prejudices between cultures and unites them.
GospelFlava.com: Many people thought that you 'fell off', so to speak. During the short-term sabbatical you took from rap music, what did you gather to bring back to the table for us?
T-Bone: I would have to say a stronger relationship with Christ is what I garnered from my time away from the industry. My level of faith has risen. My talents have gotten sharper. When you are elevated in God, everything you touch and are involved with changes as well. I want to make this perfectly clear, I do not represent hip hop. Hip hop didn't save me from the streets, Jesus did. Hip hop or rap is a tool that is used to point people to Christ.
GospelFlava.com: There are many angles of T-Bone on this album, something for everyone. There is something for the thug, sinner, saint, abandoned, abused, even something for the 'abuelitas' (grandmothers) on this album. You can really feel the love for the people, it's not mechanical or in a traditional format. It just flows. Why is so important to have a well-rounded, versatile album that has the ability to appeal to everyone?
T-Bone: When you produce one sound or style, you limit yourself creativity wise. My intent was to reach all and not just a certain group of people. Music is a universal subject that everyone can relate to.
GospelFlava.com: What is your favorite song on the album?
T-Bone: My favorite cut on The Last Street Preacha, would have to be "Turn This Up." The song showcases lyrical gymnastics and is a fun song just to vibe to. Two of my other favorite tracks would be "Wipe Your Tears" (featured on MTV's The Cut), which reveals the perils of trials and tribulations and how God can touch one's life and make him whole again. "Up On Game" is a song of rebuke that came about because I have seen a lot of things during the course of my career. Some claim to represent Christ, but don't live what they are speaking about. This is not about making a quick dollar; it's about the ministry.
GospelFlava.com: Your rhymes reflect real life issues and conflicts. Do you write from experience or do your lyrics just address today's issues?
T-Bone: My music is not composed of fairy tales. People can relate to the lyrics because they have been through some of the same things. For example, people were feeling the secular rap artist, Tupac Shakur, because he wrote about reality and everyday life. I want to address the real heavy-hitting issues of the day, but also offer a solution as well.
GospelFlava.com: What's in store for T-Bone fans world wide? Is there a T-Bone The Last Street Preacha Tour in the works?
T-Bone: More hit records!! Seriously, T-Bone Ministries has very much in store for all the people out there, we're dedicated to helping young people worldwide. There are two scheduled mission trips forthcoming, one to Lima, Peru and the other to the island of Jamaica. We will also launch a toll-free number that young people can reach when they are in dire need of help. Our mission is to reach the lost.
Let's see, as far as touring is concerned, I will be touring with Audio Adrenaline, The Supertones, and The Newsboys soon. There will be a full scale The Last Street Preacha Tour that is soon to hit a city near you so check my website for tour dates and times.
GospelFlava.com: Bone Yard Records, is that your own record company? Do you have any artists coming out on the label soon?
T-Bone: Yes. Bone Yard Records will feature some hot new groups in the near future. One that is on the roster is called ORC or the Organized Rhyme Crew. There will be another T-Bone release as well as some solo releases from the members of ORC and some R&B[-sounding] groups are slated also.
GospelFlava.com: If you had the microphone in your hand right now along with the chance to say something to people all around the world, what would it be?
T-Bone: Well, I would say that this is truly a kid that has been through it all. I tried the drinking, the drugs, the women and it all brought me down. There are times when we think that we have to get right to come to Christ, but it's the other way around. We need to come to Christ to get right.
If there would be anything that I would leave everyone with, it would be to lead them into a prayer confessing Christ. That's the only thing that will truly last.
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