Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is Long Wrong?

Is it wrong for a pastor to appear on a Parental guidance/Explicit album?

Well what if it was our beloved Bishop Eddie L. Long?

Those possibilities have finally come to pass with the recent buzz circulating the newly released, "Release therapy", the #1 hip-hop album from hip hop star Ludacris. We have been following this story for a week already and decided to post a few details about the situation on the PRAYZE Report. The sensationalism from the media has also helped made this a growing storyline.

"Release Therapy", the eighth album release from the hip-hop rapper/entertainer, is hailed to be Ludacris' first personal album. He shows signs of maturity and growing out from the hood-lifestyle and taking on responsibilities as a father and a visionary. The rapper is best known for his crazy antics and youthful pleasures in hit songs like "P-Poppin" (don't ask what the "P' means), "Roll Out (My Business)", "Move Bitch", "Number One Spot", "Hoes In My Room" and "Area Codes", but it takes a slight twist on this project. "Life is about growth and change and that's what's happening right now," he says. "Once you get to your late 20s, a lot of things start becoming more clear. You're just trying to be a better person. ... My main goal is to show the complexities of human nature."

While his album shows two sides of him (Release and Thearpy), his debut single, "Money Maker", shows him playing the role of his former and well-known lifestyle. It features Pharrell Williams and talks about "jiggling body parts and subsequent things to do with them". The video to "Money Maker" is a simple video. It is basically colored backgrounds of orange, green and black throughout the shots. There are shots of Ludacris on the ground rapping with girls surrounding him. Pharell is also singing the chorus around girls on stacks of money. Ludacris has a counting machine that counts how many times he has got a girl to shake her money maker (buttocks) for him. Girls are also dancing throughout the video. The album also features a slate of hip-hop rappers known to be naughty such as R. Kelly, Young Jeezy, Beanie Sigel, Pimp C and C-Murder.

"Therapy" delves deep into Luda's current concerns. On the confessional "Freedom of Preach," bookended by words from New Birth megachurch leader Bishop Eddie L. Long, Luda asks for forgiveness for hip-hop beefs, struggles with Karma's mother and being rude to his fans. He also asks God to forgive others -- including Oprah Winfrey, whom he has criticized for marginalizing rappers.

While the intent may be a blessing for Ludacris, Long is now experiencing growing pains and strains from many in the gospel music community. Currently in the PRAYZEHYMN Gallup To The Polls, 55% of voters have a problem with Long's appearance on Ludacris' album. We are not sure if Ludacris is a member of Long's mega-church, but people are concerned about the intentions and reasons behind this issue of faith.

In conclusion, Luda comments on the intergrity of his recent release. "The sex songs they'll help you relax, the club songs people can unwind and have a good time, and some songs, when I am talking about so many issues, it's release, me getting stuff of my chest," he says. "The truth will set you free."

We have yet to see the day when Benny Hinn appears on a Three 6 Mafia project and T.D. Jakes guest stars on a 50 Cent project. It could very well be on the way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Recap: Jamel Strong & Message Anniversary Concert

..."a momentous occasion, very spirited and enthusiastic"

These are some of the word that help sum up the past seventh anniversary celebration for Jamel Strong & Message, held last Sunday at the Pentecostal Lighthouse Church in Huntsville, AL. Besides a long wait for the show to begin and an endless soundcheck that bothered most of the audience, the concert began almost an hour later with Wess Morgan, from Hendersonville, Tennessee, providing a few songs of praise-and-worship and a few gospel selections from his newly-released independent project. The audience was overwhelmed and experienced a culture-shock when they noticed that Morgan was Caucasian - but belted notes and tossed out a few vocal aerobic rolls effortlessly. Even the movements of the brother had the audience on their feet. He closed with a rocking traditional number, "He Brought Me Out", that took us all to church.

After he settled, Jamel Strong & Message prepared to set the stage and revealed a spirited set of songs saturated with dynamic praise-and-worship choruses, energetic vocals and vibrant solo spots from the group. Standouts included the calypso-driven "Clap", the uptempo contemporary jam "I Will" (that bears a VaShawn Mitchell resemblance to "Where The Praises Are") and the worship ballad "My Hands Are Lifted Up". The audience was right there - singing along with most of the cuts and showed their love and appreciation for their local hero.

Nikki Ross was also in the audience and was asked to bless the masses with her unique and versatile pipes. After delivering a warm monologue, she expressed her love to God singing "Available To You"; which went over well. Fifteen seconds after singing the melody, Ross branches off into her aerobic, jazzy expressions and showcased why she is so difficult to mimic.

Afterwards, Dathan Thigpen & Holy Nation of Jackson, MS took the stage in their fall colored outfits and plaid uniforms. While they were energetic, the audience had a hard time receiving them because of the loudness of the musical tracks and screaming parts. Lots of their songs were wordy and featured plenty of chord changes and plenty of parts. Most of the songs really got irritating when the choir inverted their harmonies to mind-blowing notes. And with a small group like Holy Nation, it's easier to hear distinctive problems that way. Personally, they had great enthusiasm and compares to the hype that currently surrounds Tye Tribbett & G.A. - even down to their look. But sometimes too much can be too much and this was the case with Thigpen's group. Of the songs they performed, "Wonderful", "Clap Your Hands" and "We've Come To Praise The Lord" were best remembered - songs from their recent project, "Get Up: Vol. 1".

Tyscot recording artist and renowned songwriter VaShawn Mitchell teased the crowd with a few of his songs as well as an old-school throwback to some treasured congregational hymns like "He's A Wonder (In My Soul)" and "Yes, Yes, Yes". He flew through "My Worship Is For Real" and for several minutes, the audience was caught up in musicless intimate worship. He finally closed with "No Way" from his recent project, "Believe In Your Dreams" with Thigpen's Holy Nation providing background vocals.

Around 9:00 p.m., the Anointed Pace Sisters, minus LaShun, was the last act to grace the platform and ultimately wowed the crowd with their clear, clean, cutting-edge vocals. After all of these years, the passion in their ministry had not changed and they revealed just that in their song selection that evening. Strong announced that the Anointed Pace Sisters, also known as T.A.P.S., were releasing their new album that night and were going to tease us with songs from that same project. Songs like the infectious "It's Already Done", the moving ballad "The Words You Said" (penned by Phyllis Pace), and "High Praise" were well received and revealed the possibilities of a very promising album.

Overall, the night had its share of glorious moments and memorable highlights. It was an anniversary to be proud of. And we were happy to be a part of that event. We just hope next time that things will start on time.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Churchin' With Patti

Mark your calendars. Probably one of the biggest events of the season is here. And it's being headed by R&B's reigning diva Patti Labelle. For years, she has been asked to do a gospel project. Because of her ongoing affirmation to God and having no shame in expressing her love for Jesus Christ on stage and in her private life (strongly revealed in her powerful autobiography, "Don't Block Your Blessings"), Labelle will be preparing to release "The Gospel According To Patti" this fall and will be promoting it with an extensive fourteen city tour promoted by Chrysler and is targeted to take place at several prominent mega-churches. Tour dates will include Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Los Angeles and Detroit.

As for the album's release date, it is not confirmed but it is slated to be released this fall. Some of the dates will feature guest artists from the album which include Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Tye Tribbett, J. Moss, CeCe Winans and Wynonna Judd.

Complete Tour Schedule

Saturday, October 7, 2006
Potter's House - Dallas, Texas
Friday, October 13, 2006
St. Agnes Baptist Church - Houston, Texas
Friday, October 27, 2006
West Angeles COGIC - Los Angeles, CA
Friday, November 10, 2006
Deliverance Evangelistic Church - Philadelphia, PA
Friday, November 17, 2006
Christian Cultural Church - Brooklyn, NY
Friday, December 1, 2006
Greater Grace - Detroit, MI
Saturday, December 2, 2006
Jericho City of Praise - Landover, MD
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church - Atlanta, GA
Friday, December 8, 2006
Crickett Arena - Charlotte, NC
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Fox Theatre - St. Louis, MO
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Faithful Central Bible Church - Inglewood, CA
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University - Cleveland, OH
Sunday, January 7, 2007
New Jersey Performing Arts Center - Newark, NJ
To pre-order your tickets, call 1-800-549-TIXX.