We talked with Rhema Soul about their upcoming studio album RED which is set to release on March 27,2012. We also discussed different aspects of their ministry. Check out the interview below.
Nick (New H2O): You have a new album slated to release in early 2012, what can you tell us about the new album coming out?
K-Nuff: The new album coming out is definitely going to be a step musically that we haven’t taken thus far which is like most of the projects that we’ve put out, has been a gradual growth musically. For this album I guess you can expect more eccentric music, we’re definitely going to stay true to what we normally did which was good feeling, good atmospheric type of music but what we wanted to do was step it up to broaden the listeners. So we added some elements that wouldn’t normally go with the things that we normally do which was like dubstep, alternative music, and even pop. So we added that element and we took on a theme this time which is more of a theme from a human standpoint, a human condition, looking for answers, having passion, feeling the times that we live in as a state of emergency, and addressing what the answer is. So all of those things. We obviously believe in Jesus Christ. We just took that approach where anybody from any walk of life can listen to the album and the common ground there is that there is a hope outside of what is is that you’re living in, outside of your four walls that you see every day, and that hope that we ultimately believe is Jesus.
N: Do you have an official name yet for the album?
Butta P: The name of the album is RED.
N: You mentioned that there were elements of dubstep, pop, and some alternative that is typically different than what your normal approach is from your last releases. What can the fans look forward to most with the album RED coming out?
B: I would definitely say growth. We definitely went into this album and wanted to challenge ourselves. We do that every album, but this time we really wanted to challenge ourselves as artists and take ourselves out of the typical hip hop box. I think we’ve grown a lot from the first album. Our first album was very hip hop with a little bit of melodies and that type of thing. The second album was a lot more fun, having a good time, light-hearted music even though if you really listen to the lyrical content it’s still kind of deep but we did it in a more light-hearted fashion. The third album, we blended the two sounds together but we definitely went more melodically, made it sound a lot more commercial, and a lot of people probably had us labeled. So with this one we went with a brand new producer, we just went in a whole different direction, and we just wanted to challenge ourselves musically. I think they will definitely be surprised at what we did but at the same time we definitely stayed true to our hip hop roots. It’s not that it’s not a hip hop album, it’s definitely a hip hop album. We just definitely gone to a whole new level with it.
N: Comparing to Fingerprints, would you say that you’re blending a new style, trying to aim more towards that commercial approach, or are you trying to reinvent your style?
K: I don’t think we are reinventing because that can sound weird and it usually doesn’t work when people reinvent themselves. But what we tried to do is just mesh whatever it is that we’re doing. When you go from Dope Beats to Fingerprints you can hear that the Dope Beats elements are in Fingerprints with songs like Jammin With The Boom Box and My Beat Go and songs that are real bass heavy. Then we introduced newer sounds like Save Me which is a totally new sound for our audience when we first did it. And then the meshing of the two would be a song like Fly Away. Fly away has a very fun type of vibe but the message in it is pretty serious and when you add the video that we put out as well then you can see the whole thing come together. That’s what we’re trying to do with this next one. To add elements that we’ve already used and then add this other type of musical element while combining the inspirational sound that gets everyone motivated to do something or to move to action while keeping that whole party vibe, feeling good, which is very home to us coming from Miami, south Florida area. Most of that type of music comes from the area that we’re from.
N: In a couple sentences, is there a core message or core theme you are trying to get across?
B: With this album I would say a sense of urgency, being passionate about what you’re doing with your life, be passionate about your calling. It really touches on like K said, it’s touching on different emotions that we deal with as humans. It’s really just having a sense of urgency, dealing with passion, following your dreams, not letting go, and not giving up even when it seems like you can’t see the promises and the dreams and still fighting through it and holding onto the promises that God has given you.
N: Are there any guest features that the fans should anticipate?
B: Yeah we got a whole bunch (laughs). This album was fun becuase we don’t ever really get to feature a lot of people because of the group so it’s usually a hard task to accomplish. We were able to pull it off nicely this time. I think there are five features this time. It’s a great eclectic bunch too which is awesome. We got This’l who’s featuring, we’ve got Ryan Stevenson who is more of a CCM artist, we’ve got Benjah, we’ve got Jai.
K: And we’ve got Shonlock.
N: I don’t really hear too many features from you guys so it’s probably exciting for your listeners and fans that you’re going to have some additional elements to the tracks.
B: It was cool the way they came about. It was very organic. Our manager asked us at the beginning of the process who we wanted to work with and again like I said it’s always been kind of a hard task for us to do. But the way the features came about was very organic, it wasn’t so much about who it was. It was like who was going to sound good on this record.
N: Being from south Florida, how does that influence this album?
K: In south Florida hangin’ out, if you go to Miami for a night out and you want to take your wife or your significant other out or just hang out with your boys, during that timespan if you’re anywhere where there’s music playing, you’re gonna hear all types of music. South Florida is quickly becoming the mecca of all kinds of things. From fashion to like I said music, as far I said being in a melting pot. There’s cultures there, there’s all kinds of foods. Because that’s the area that we come from, we definitely think it comes across in the music and that’s why we believe that we’ve had the growth that we’ve had. We haven’t been confined to just east coast music, just west coast, or just dance, or just pop. We’ve been blessed to get it all with salsa, merengue, reggae, and all kinds of stuff intertwined, and then the new movement with electronica, dubstep, and the European sound is real heavy in Florida with huge concerts. With all that going on, it just becomes the people are you trying to reach. For us musically it’s just a challenge and we love taking the challenge on of trying to do something different, add different elements to what it is we do. We just took it on as a challenge and we really believe it will be communicated in the music. I’d say south Florida always influences us even with the last song we put out Shine In The Night, it was just a total respect and love that we have for our hometown and going from there and spreading it out.
N: For the people who don’t yet know who you are, what would you like them to know?
B: That we’re pretty awesome people. (laughs) Pretty cool people to hang out with. We’re kind of funny. We like to punch people in their arm. K-Nuff likes to eat. A Lot. If you hang out with us, you have to buy him dinner. We just love what we do. We love what we do for a living. We love that we have the opportunity to share our faith with the music that we do. We’re plugged into our home churches which is something that we’re very passionate about. We’re involved with youth ministries and with young adult ministries. We’re not just talking it, we are actually living it. If you don’t see us on stage and that type of thing, you’ll catch us living it out. I think it’s very important that people see that beyond than just the music.
N: Before we go, is there anything else you guys want to talk about?
Lateshia: Did you guys want to talk about Hope In Motion?
B: Yeah, to piggyback talking about doing stuff beyond the stage. We just recently hooked up with this non-profit organization called Hope In Motion and it’s run by Pedro LaTorre. He’s KJ52’s drummer. We’ve been building a relationship with him for the past year or so, becoming great friends, he’s an awesome guy, and has a great heart for God. He has this non-profit organization where he goes into high schools to do these assemblies and presentations. We’ve just recently partnered with him doing that and it’s something that we love, love, love to do. The guys Juan and K were in a group prior to Rhema Soul and they did missions for about a year and a half. A lot of what they did was that in other countries. They were doing high schools assemblies and doing these concerts throughout the city and inviting the kids in the high schools, in the elementary, and middle schools. They would do a presentation at the high school and then invite them to these huge concerts at night. It’s kind of like the same thing that we do with Hope In Motion and we talk to the kids about teenage suicides and different types of issues that these kids are dealing with. We come to the schools and present them a message of hope, and love, and freedom. We allow them to come talk to us afterwards and if they’re open and willing they allow us to pray with them. Then we invite them to one of the local churches that partners with us and just hang out with them afterwards. It’s something that we’ve been doing for a while. We’ve been working on some stuff for 2o12 and there’s just a bunch of stuff in the works that we’re excited about. So that’s something that we do beyond the stage and it’s something that we’re very passionate about.
N: So is that something that you do more local or is that something you do across the country?
B: Well it’s local in the sense that it’s in the state of Florida but in 2012 we are actually going beyond the state of Florida.
N: Do you have a list of cities that you have lined up already?
B: As of right now they are working on the bookings. There is something that we are working on now that they are going to announce soon but it’s more of tour that we are going to be working on for next year for other cities and doing the high schools so we are excited about that.
N: I haven’t heard of something like that before so I find that interesting.
K: Just to piggyback, with some of the statistics from the time a child is in adolescence to 18 years old that demographic makes up a certain percentage of our population. It’s like 40% and that’s 100% of our future. Then at the same time the devastating statistic is that out of teenage or youth related deaths, suicide is the third leading cause. Then when you get to college, it’s the second leading cause of why our students are dying. It’s a very big issue. When you go into those schools you need to approach it a certain way because you can’t say Jesus in public schools. You have to talk about hope and hope is essentially what Jesus is. He is our hope. So we allude to it like that and you’d be surprised. This opens up the doors and then afterwards the kids are allowed to stay after because the principals want this in their schools. They see the violence, they see the things that are going on, they see the separation, the bullying, and all that kind of stuff is all the stuff that we touch on. So they are anxious when they see their toughest kids at a breaking point and wanting to stay back to chat with one of us. That’s when we’re able to really tell them that the reason why we have this hope is because of our Lord and Saviour. Then we can fully disclose it because it’s not like we’re preaching to them, we’re just telling them our testimony, what actually happened, and how we found the hope that we found. It’s just really awesome and like you said before, there’s something to be said about an artist that raps about the right things and in their social life which is their private life but they make it so social they’re doing the opposite of that by communicating different things that contradict what they’re talking about. It’s very important to us not so much for people to see but it’s important to us that we believe in things like integrity, that we’ve been called to a very high point where we are responsible and going to be held accountable for the things that we do. We just take it real seriously man, and it’s something we would like everyone to take seriously. We’re doing it here in Florida, Ft. Myers, and we plan to stretch out to Georgia, North Carolina, and only time will tell how far it goes. It’s just something that is needed, everyone should have something like that going on in their city. I think there would be a huge change. The best part about it is we couple it with a church and invite all those students to some event that the church is having and when we did it in Ft. Myers it was very successful. A lot of the kids came and some of them were Christians who went to other churches, some of them were not and haven’t ever been inside a church but the result was the same. They got to see Jesus and hear about his love and make a decision for their lives. It’s just been a real awesome thing. Even more-so than music. It’s really cool.
N: I know definitely in this Chicago area we have so many students getting murdered all the time and just a heavy burden that something like that could be used to break through those barriers to reach the youth today. Every day on the news here is gang violence everywhere. Chicago is probably one of the worst for gang violence right now. When you’re talking about doing stuff like that, I think there’s definitely a need to bring church and Christ down to the youth. Going to them instead of having them come to you.
K: Absolutely. You couldn’t have said it better.
N: Is there any else you want to talk about?
L: I have one more thing. Good City Music.
K: That’s all Butta!
B: We’ve been releasing everything under Good City but this time we are going through Universal. We’re excited this year because we are looking to sign. We have an artist that is going to come out under Good City this year as well after Rhema Soul. We’re looking hopefully to sign someone else by the end of 2012 to start building that roster. Good City was started to put a group of artists together that are wanting to fulfill the same mission even though our tool or technique is different if that makes sense. We really wanted to just put a whole bunch of creative people together to build this team. That’s our whole concept beyond Good City. We really wanted to have artists who have the same vision, the same mission, and who wanted to accomplish the same thing but just possibly do it in different ways. We’re excited about that.
N: So Good City Music is releasing the album Universal for distribution or as a label?
B: As a label.
N: Where can your album be found once it’s released?
B: It’s going to be definitely on iTunes, all the digital avenues, it’s going to be in the Christian bookstores, and I believe it’s going to be in Wal-Mart and Best Buy. I think they are still working on Target if I’m not mistaken. So all your major retailers.