By Tim McGrew
The Four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – provide us with a wealth of information regarding Jesus of Nazareth. But skeptics have long charged them with both internal contradictions and external historical blunders. How can we tell whether they can be trusted?
Merely answering criticisms, though that task is important, will not give us a reason to take these documents as reliable historical works. To build a positive case we need to look closely both at the documents and at our other sources of information about Palestine in the first century. And when we take that close look, several patterns emerge. First, the four evangelists get hard things right. They display an intimate knowledge of the physical geography and of the shifting political landscape. And we can tell how difficult that is by seeing how badly early forgeries fail that same test.
Second, we can test our four Gospels for consistency by looking at the way the character of Jesus comes out in the narratives. Each Evangelists has special interests and emphases. If they were merely relaying legends or making up myths, we would not expect any more similarity in their portraits than we could find between two fictional characters – between Legolas and Robin Hood, for example. But in fact, Jesus as the four Evangelists reveal him is the same character, with the same manner of teaching, the same habit of drawing examples from the physical surroundings, the same likes and dislikes, and the same way of driving home his key points. Where myth and legend would tell us to expect many different characters wearing the same name, the Gospels present us with only one.
Third, we can check our methodology by looking at how other religious books fare when we bring them to the test. The Book of Mormon affords a good point of comparison. It purports to give us accounts of historical events, and we can check to see whether our other historical evidence confirms or disconfirms those accounts. How will it fare when we evaluate it by the same standards we use for assessing the four Gospels?
This article and others like it can be found over on our good friends and partners website Growingdeeperroots.org.
Growing Deeper Roots was born in 2017 through observation of powerful synergy among three fields: Christian discipleship, theology, and apologetics. The Growing Deeper Roots conference has became an annual event in Western Michigan and Growing Deeper Roots now brings other life-changing events and content, attracting a growing and influential community from many different walks of life and disciplines united by their curiosity and passion for God, — and also by their shared discovery of an exciting secret to boldness.
They have some fantastic content on their website so be sure to check it out!!
As a music artist, facing criticism is inevitable. Even the most successful, most talented artists will see “dislikes” on their videos and be met with less than stellar feedback from record execs, peers, fans and music critics at almost every point in their career. I’ve read surprisingly negative reviews of classic Led Zeppelin and Michael Jackson albums, and critics have mercilessly panned songs in recent years which have gone on to be huge hits. Now, you may be expecting a “criticism is good, embrace it” sort of message here, but in my experience as an artist and producer, I find that to be far too simplistic an explanation.
There are many potential reasons for and motivations behind harsh critique and negative feedback, and all critique is not necessarily valuable or beneficial to an artist. I believe there are at least 3 basic categories into which criticism falls, and failing to differentiate between these categories or levels of criticism could result in an artist taking poor advice, becoming confused, shutting down, or missing an opportunity altogether.
The first kind of criticism is criticism that SHOULD be taken into consideration and applied if possible. How would one identify such criticism? There are a few things to look for. We should keep in mind that as artists, we are much closer to our work than anyone else. For this reason, we sometimes are unable to look at our work with the sort of objectivity necessary to improve upon it. It is therefore important that we be open-minded when we first receive feedback on our work. Here are a few clues that might indicate we should listen carefully to a review or criticism and learn from it:
1. Is the feedback coming from more than one independent source? If the advice is coming from multiple people who likely have not had time to confer with one another, that is a good indicator that what’s being said about your work is based solely in the quality of the work itself rather than in any personal feelings toward you or individual expectations. Unfortunately for artists who see themselves as innovators, we live in a society where herd mentality abounds and people are often afraid to be ridiculed for holding opinions that are not popular even when it comes to musical preferences, so understand that if a lot of people are saying the same thing, there is a very high likelihood that many of those individuals have simply hopped on the bandwagon after waiting to hear what the crowd is chanting. That’s why I say numbers are only good evidence when you have several INDEPENDENT sources expressing similar opinions on some aspect of your work. Might be a good idea to have a group of people you trust who you can show your work to before it is released and share your music with each of them individually and privately.
2. Does the source of the criticism understand you as an artist? If I’m a jazz musician, and the source of the criticism only really likes metal and wishes you did metal and complains about the lack of face-melting electric guitar solos and keeps suggesting you listen to some Avenged Sevenfold, then you are encountering the 2nd kind of criticism. This is criticism based on personal preference rather than what is best for YOU as an artist. They are imposing things on a song that do not naturally flow from the song based on what they like to listen to. These sources of criticism are probably well-meaning, they don’t mean you any harm, but adjusting your music and style based on their critique will require you to impersonate some other artist, more specifically, their favorite artist. If their ear WANTS to hear Drake, but you’re not intending to create the kind of music Drake makes, you’ll have to take what they’re telling you with a grain of salt and remember that your goals are not the same as theirs. You need criticism from peers, experts and mentors who, one, understand what you’re going for and accept your vision for what it is, and two, want to see YOUR songs reach their greatest potential based on that vision. That does not require them to like your songs more than their own preferred style or genre of music. They are looking just at what your songs are trying to communicate both musically and lyrically and then giving suggestions on how to enhance the clarity and presentation of those unique songs without trying to turn your songs into something they simply aren’t based on personal taste.
Now… am I saying that if you suspect someone’s criticism of your work falls into this 2nd category that you should ignore everything they say? No way! Perhaps you’ll be surprised and find something in the music they like that speaks to you or inspires you, maybe just not in the way they intended. The key is understanding WHY they are giving you the feedback that they are giving you and not assuming your music is lacking something simply because it doesn’t fit into their playlist.
3. Does the source of the criticism have your best interest at heart? Do they stand to gain something from speaking negatively of your work? Did they pass up a chance to provide you with this feedback at a more opportune time like, say, before the music was released for example? The third category of criticism is criticism for the sake of criticism. Negative feedback seems to be significantly more entertaining to most audiences than positive or constructive commentary. There is a reason Simon Cowell HAD to be a part of the original American Idol panel. Be honest, were most of us tuning in to hear the two other judges point out the positive aspects of the performances and find the coolest, friendliest, nicest way to tell hopefuls they would not be advancing to the next round? Yeah, that’s gonna be a “no” from me, dawg. We were waiting to see how Cowell would rip them to shreds and how harsh his criticism would be. The fact is, critics have fans too, and negativity almost always draws more attention. Followers of a particular critic’s YouTube channel or magazine column tend to get most excited about the reviews and articles where the critic strongly disliked the song or movie or show etc. The audience wants their favorite critics to be as “savage” and “unfiltered” as possible, and as a result, critics will often generate negative reviews to appease their fan base or, at the very least, exaggerate the degree to which they disliked something. Take a look at the Rolling Stone article about past reviews that… didn’t stand the test of time to say the least. In this article, Andy Greene highlights examples of albums, now considered classics, some of which actually have a 5-star rating in Rolling Stone magazine, that received SCATCHING, and in hindsight, SHOCKINGLY negative reviews upon their release from, you guessed it, the very same Rolling Stone magazine. Negative reviews usually have more jokes in them, and for some it is more exciting to see how much somebody dislikes something than to see how much they like something. Those looking for attention stand to gain more of what they are looking for by writing a negative review than they do writing a positive one about something they thought was just great.
It is also unfortunately true that many may respond negatively to your art because of their own insecurities or jealously or competitive nature. Not everyone you encounter will necessarily want to see you succeed. Christ commands us to show love to those who mistreat us, and we mustn’t harbor bitterness or unforgiveness in our hearts. Even this third kind of criticism can be an opportunity, just maybe not one that has anything to do with music. With the help of the Holy Spirit, let’s strive to show understanding and compassion to those who present us with this third category of criticism. Perhaps the things they have gone through and the criticisms they have received hurt them in a way you or I couldn’t even imagine, and hurling insults back at them accomplishes nothing. If we slap back, we play right into our enemy’s hands, but if we turn the other cheek, we may see something far greater than a positive review in a magazine. You may not be able to change minds, but the love of Christ is known to change hearts.
Don’t allow this negativity to distract you either. We can’t allow ourselves to rise and fall with the praise or criticism of others. As difficult as it may be for us as artists who are very attached to and passionate about our work, we have to examine all these forms of criticism without emotion in order to best interpret, categorize, and if necessary, apply it. Emotion can cloud our judgment and keep us from completing any of these tasks. Criticism has its place in the journey of any great artist, but not all criticism belongs in the SAME place.
I was born in the 80's. I grew up watching some of what I consider, the best cartoons ever made. Transformers, Voltron, M.A.S.K., Thunder Cats and of course, G.I. Joe. A phrase that seemed to stick with me was always found at the end of each episode of G.I. Joe. There would be some life lesson that a kid had to learn and one of the characters would say "Knowing is half the battle." As a kid I would often repeat that in the deepest voice I could and I thought it made me sound smart (don't judge me), I never really thought much about the phrase, I just thought it was cool. One day when I was reading the book of James the phrase popped back into my mind. I laughed at first but then it hit me. James is literally stating that knowing is only half the battle and that applying that knowledge is the other half. James chapter 1 verses 22-25 states; "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."
It is one thing to read the word, hear the word and know the word, it's another thing to apply that which you are reading, hearing and know. This is where the rubber meets the road. Now that I am older and hopefully wiser (by the grace of God go I), I feel that G.I. Joe sort of let us down or if anything, left the quote incomplete causing us children to fill in the blanks based on the application of the end scene. I think the quote should have been "Knowing is half the battle, the other half is applying that knowledge." Now, that doesn't sound nearly as cool as the original and even in the most manly of voices it might come off as nerdy but it is no less true. This is often how we go about life though. In this day and age we have access to so much information and we are constantly bombarded with things seeking our attention.
I was at a mens retreat not to long ago and there was a quote shared by the speaker that leveled me. He said that he was talking to a Pastor of a church overseas and that Pastor's observation of the western church was that when it comes to knowledge we "are 3 years ahead of our obedience." It was as if the air was sucked out of the room. This caused me to immediately begin an introspective examination of my life. God used that moment to slow me down. I realized that I was on a quest for knowledge much more than I was on a quest for obedience. My Bible study method changed exponentially, I began simply meditating on one passage or one verse at a time and not moving on until I felt that I understood the verse(s) and have been actively seeking to apply what was being taught in my life. God is good at revealing what you need to deal with, what needs to go and areas where you walking in out right rebellion. James stated that if we hear the word but don't do what it says we are disillusion. The example he uses of the man looking at himself in the mirror, walking away and forgetting what kind of person he was is pretty powerful. The NLT translates this section by saying you look at yourself in the mirror and forget what you look like. The word of God is like a mirror in that when we read it, it is going to show us who we are. It is going to reveal to us that we are in desperate need of Jesus. Hebrews 4:12 states "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."
God's word is going to draw out those areas that are wrong in our life, those things that need correcting. We have a choice, we can either simply know that they need to be dealt with and leave it at that or we can know and deal with them. May we be a people that dig into God's word not simply for knowledge but asking Him to draw the sin in our life out, to transform, shape and mold us. May we not simply be hearers of the word who delude ourselves but be effectual doers. May we look into the mirror of God's word and not forget what we have seen.
We are very much in this together. If you would like to chat more about this or have any thoughts you would like to add, please leave a comment. If you are struggling with something and you aren't comfortable sharing it publicly you can certainly email us at email@example.com (please note that we will likely direct you to your local church Pastor/body but we will reply and begin a dialogue as well as pray.
As always, thank you for taking the time! God bless!
How'd you like to get more DJ's to play your music? How'd you like to see more Rappers and Singers using your beats to make Dance tracks and remixes? How'd you like to be asked to make more remixes for songs? If any of these ideas appeal to you then I have a simple trick that may help increase your chances of producing more popular work.
Stick to the right tempo.
This seems both weird AND limiting, and in a way, it is. But, the idea is to know what DJ's like to mix and what tempos they like to use when mixing and then to cater to that taste. DJ's are (and have always been) the progenitors of musical trends. There are songs that we now consider classics that would never have gotten radio play if it weren't for DJ's. So knowing their mixing habits will help you to get your music in front of more people if you make it easier for them to play. You do this by selecting tempos that they are most likely to use when mixing.
Modern DJ's use software that automatically detects the tempos of songs, and then they select songs for their playlists that best fit their desired tempo for performances and set. A quick internet search will result an overwhelming amount of results (splitting hairs over genres most beatmakers have never heard of) so, I'm going stick to generalities for this article.
Basic Tempos that I've seen a lot as a DJ:
As you can see, songs tend to gravitate towards certain tempos in order to maximize their DJ appeal, and other songs are not meant to be used by DJ's. The ideal tempos for me were 90, 100, 120, 128, & 140 depending of the style I was using that night. I would always base my sets on the speeds I had available first. So if you want my opinion (and I assume you do if you've read this far already), I would suggest using 1 of the 5 tempos for maximizing your dance tracks.
Here are those speeds again:
I had the chance to share some of these things recently in an interview I did about my most recent album, but I thought fellow artists might appreciate having a tasty, bite-sized version of these ideas available for a quick read here at TentmakerMusic.com. Here we go, 5 tips for overcoming writer’s block and avoiding creative drought as a musician.
Fellow music makers, how many times have you found yourself staring at a blank page for hours trying to get some brilliant lyrics out onto the page but finding about as much success as the guy banging desperately on the bottom of a glass bottle, hoping to enjoy that last drop of ketchup? Those of you who produce your own music, can you recall a time when you searched through libraries of samples and virtual instruments, finding nothing that inspired you? Not one decent melody? Not one drum pattern? Remember that time (or two) when you started to put together a beat and realized about 20 minutes in that it sounds an awful lot like the last 3 beats you made? Tragic. Thankfully, Tentmaker Music has some great tips to help Christian artists keep the creative juices flowing and overcome writer’s block.
TIP #1: “Walk it out”
Many artists and writers claim to do their best thinking while walking, and there are even studies showing that walking improves creativity (for example, news.stanford.edu). For me, getting away from my usual surroundings allows me to begin thinking differently and get my mind unstuck and off the beaten path (what I sometimes refer to as the “train track”). Most of my best verses were written while walking in parks or in bookstores. You might even witness or experience something while on a walk that provides inspiration for a new song. It is also important for me to give my ears a rest from speakers and headphones to refresh, and I’ll often get great ideas for sounds to use or create in my projects from listening to natural or mechanical sounds I come across outside of my house.
TIP #2: “Add more variety to your musical diet”
Sometimes, the reason we get stuck on the “train track” where everything moves in one direction and it all starts to sound the same is because we lack variety in our musical diet. We make hip-hop, we listen to hip-hop, so we are only thinking in those terms. If I am a modern hip-hop artist, when I’m in the early stages of the creative process, my musical diet should include VERY LITTLE modern, hip-hop music. If I am listening exclusively or almost exclusively to my hip-hop contemporaries, it is going to be difficult to think outside of the box and create something that stands out in the current landscape of music. Really, I should only be listening to modern hip-hop primarily when I’m in the mixing and mastering stage of the process for the purposes of reference and/or comparing the loudness/fullness of masters.
As an example of the kind of musical diversity I like to have when I’m working on writing/composing a new album, here is a recent playlist I put together to listen to while I’m studying:
Stayin’ Alive –Bee Gees
Pray For Me (1966) – Mighty Clouds of Joy
Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
You Are The Living Word - Fred Hammond
Burn This Disco Out – Michael Jackson
You’ll Be In My Heart – Phil Collins
Chasing Unicorns – The Legend of Xero
Know Me (Huh What) – The Cross Movement
Nearer To Thee - Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers
As Long As I’m Alive – Average Joe and Leyna Ceville
Moment’s Notice – John Coltrane
Deep Waters – Adelaide
Why You Wanna Trip On Me – Michael Jackson
In The River – Kim Walker
The Terminator (Main Theme) – Brad Fiedel
Bitter Wages – Hazakim
I Dreamed A Dream (Les Miserables) – Anne Hathway
Still Crazy After All These Years – Ray Charles
Great God – Carman
There Is A God – Carman
Speak Softly Love – Andy Williams
Into Your Arms [Eli Ramzy Remix] – Capital Kings
House of Representatives – The Cross Movement
Rain In The Third House – Tangerine Dream
Now, would this be a very cohesive playlist to throw on at a party? No. But that’s the point! You put together a party playlist to keep the party going and keeping things flowing from beginning to end. For the party, we’re going for uniformity or at least songs that seem to belong together and transition well from one into the other. The above playlist on the other hand causes my mind to switch gears from track to track and think about music from a variety of different angles and in a variety of different ways. I’m freeing my mind to think about all of (or at least many of) the things that music can be and accomplish.
And this playlist will change regularly, by the way. Top-40 radio and even contemporary Christian radio has a tendency to get stuck on a kind of song or a style or sound for a while, and I don’t want to only think of music in those terms because if I am stuck writing and composing the kinds of songs I am hearing on the radio, there is a much higher likelihood that my music will sound extremely dated when I look back on it ten years from now. I strive to not be limited by the times or by genre, but to simply offer the Lord a NEW song, something fresh, as often as He allows me to do so. I want to put together something that is unique, something that stands out, and something that shows the world we serve a creative God, the first and most creative artist of all.
TIP #3: “Enjoy other mediums of artistic expression”
Go see a movie, visit a museum, wander an amusement park, watch a painter do his/her thing… point is, there are other forms of art besides music. Sometimes, stepping away from the kind of art I personally do is where I find my best ideas, and to be honest, sometimes, I just need a break. When we feel like we are forcing ourselves, the music isn’t flowing naturally, it isn’t coming together organically or it no longer feels authentic, it may be a good idea to step away from music for a bit and enjoy other activities or appreciate other kinds of art. Again, this is another way to get our minds off the “train track” and thinking differently about what we do. It frees us to move in more than just one direction when we return to work.
TIP #4 “Run right through the wall like the Kool-Aid man”
PLEASE DO NOT RUN THROUGH AN ACTUAL WALL!!! Sit back down, please. I’m talking about the wall of writer’s block. If I have already tried the above techniques, and I have a goal to write a specific sort of verse or song, but I find myself suffering from writer’s block, I have found ways to force myself through it and come up with good material. The problem is, and this is hard for those of us to are perfectionists when it comes to music, I have to first allow myself to write a bunch of bad, basically unusable material. Allow me to explain… I’ve started forcing myself to write a verse every other day whether I have a great idea or not. I HAVE to get it down on the page, which means the verse I end up with at the end of that day may not be great or even decent yet because I had to force myself to finish it.
Why would I do this to myself? Because I have a bad habit of allowing my writer’s block to become an excuse to be lazy, and I wait around for the perfect verse to just pop into my head so I can write down something I’m happy with. Professional writers, whether we’re talking novel writers, non-fiction writers or essay writers, the greats understand the purpose in writing multiple drafts and know how much an idea can change and grow and improve as I simply keep putting the pen to the paper. If I get some things down on the page that I can return to later, I may find some great ideas that I can eventually polish and use, just maybe not in the way I initially thought I’d be using it. Maybe this bar or that rhyme is salvageable and could be used on a different track.
If you can’t even manage to force a verse out, sometimes word association exercises and get you through the wall. Force yourself to write down a keyword related to your topic or even the name of the beat you’re trying to write for. Then, write down every word that pops into your head when you think about that word, and every word those words make you think of, and see where these words take you. You may find that your topic was simply too broad or vague or not interesting enough and you need to focus in on something more specific and vivid.
What are some of the ways you have overcome writers block? Leave us a comment, we would love to hear from you! As always, thank you for taking the time to read this! God bless!
Trying to get people to listen to your music or invest in what you are doing as an artist can be extremely hard these days. Due to the internet and social media there is so much noise and everyone is vying for attention. So as an artist, what are you doing to rise above the noise? How are you presenting yourself to the public? What is your strategy? Do you even have a strategy? So many of us just post our music countless numbers of times and think to ourselves "well if I keep posting it people are bound to see it and they are going to eventually check it out." Why? Why do we think that if we just keep posting it people will listen? What are you doing to make someone want to listen? Adding more noise to the noise doesn't entice people to listen, it generally causes them to tune you out. Simply because you post your music everywhere 1000 times doesn't mean it is going to translate to streams, downloads or purchases, and again, it generally has the opposite effect.
So what are we to do about this? First things first, we need to develop a solid marketing strategy, we need a plan and our plan can't simply be posting a bunch of times and hoping people listen. Second, I want to focus on what I call The "Why" Factor. Due to the fact that there is so much noise you need to provide a potential listener with a "why" they should listen to you, give them a reason. You can do this by briefly telling the story of how the song came about, you can do a short video testimony that pertains to the song or your mission/vision. You can tie a song or the initial release to a special event in your life that makes sense with the song. There are so many things you can do, the bottom line is give people a reason why they should listen to it. I would like to note that three fire emoji's with the alarm emoji and saying "NEW SONG!" in all caps is not a reason why someone should listen. No one is going to be a bigger fan of your music than you are and most people simply don't care, they may give you a courtesy listen but that's where it ends (and they only tend to do that for one song unless you won them over). I know we don't like to put it this way but you are selling you. You desire people to purchase, stream or download your product (the song/album) & you need to convince them that they need it. This is actually sales 101, there is a problem, here is the solution. Think about click bate for a second, no I don't think click bate is the answer but I want to use it to demonstrate the "why" factor. The way click bate works is based on generating a "why" response in the potential reader or viewer. The headline evokes an emotional response or a curiosity within you that leads to you checking out the article or video. Honestly, it's brilliant and we so often underestimate the power of a good title. I used this method in my article titled "Stop Paying for Big Name Features, Unless..." The hope in that title is that people want to know what the "Unless" is and then read the article, and people did.
As artists, we need to learn how to generate the "why", we need to create compelling TRUE stories and reasons for people to listen to our music. Maybe share all the hardship you faced while trying to complete the song (technical difficulties, personal issues, etc). The call here is simply to be creative in how you present your music and seek to compel someone to want to listen to what you are putting out.
I created a video that accompanies this article, maybe you are like me and you learn better by hearing. I like the combo of reading and listening so that is why I made the video. The video also talks through some other examples etc. Check the video out below!
Thank you for taking the time to read this, we hope that you find it beneficial and that if you apply some of the things discussed here that it helps you grow as an artist and find more people listening to more of your music. God bless!!
Back in March of 2019 Dexter (OSI) reached out to us through his production company/ministry He's Worthy Productions and he wanted to see how we could partner and how he could help us in our mission. We hit it off pretty quickly and God made it clear that we were to graft Deter into the team and he stepped in as our Creative Director. Shortly after that he shared his music with us and it for sure took us by surprise. OSI has a raw yet refined sound that is sure to excite the hip-hop purest and is even more likely to fire you up in your walk with Jesus. His blend of boom-bap and passion for Christ come through the speakers like a momma bear protecting her cubs, there is no question what he is about and there is no question that the Lord gifted him to share through hip-hop. OSI has not only joined the team as the Creative Director but we also offered him a spot on our artist roster.
We thought it made sense for everyone to hear more of his story and what God has been doing in and through his life. If you have any questions or simply want to say whats up, leave a comment, we would love to connect with you!
Where are you from, describe your upbringing?
Born and raise from the 313 Detroit Michigan. Bless to be raised with both parents in my household. I grew up with hard working parents, even though we may not had a lot, my parents made sure I stayed out the streets.
How did you come to Christ, (your salvation story)?
I was a traditional Christian, my mom always kept me in church. I knew who God was, but didn't have a personal relationship with him. I asked God to reveal himself to me. I lost everything, my marriage, my house and job. I was definitely at a low point of my life, family and friends were only able to do so much. I came to terms, I couldn't rely on them, God was my only source. I started working on a personal relationship with God, reading the word of God and praying. I continue to build my faith, that's when changes start happening, now I'm able to sit here tell people how worthy God is, when you put all trust unto Him, He can open up doors that nobody can close.
What was your first introduction to music?
I was exposed to variety of music like Motown, Bobby Womack, The Clark Sisters through my mom. At the age of 12 I was introduce to hip-hop through my cousin who lived on the east coast, who I visited during the summer. It was away for me to get out the house, I was a gamer and nerd. My cousin didn't have video games so I kept my self entertained by drawing albums covers and CD covers of hip hop artist while listening to hip-hop and reciting lyrics.
What was your first introduction to Gospel hip hop?
My first introduction to Gospel hip hop was years ago through a distribution deal that I was signed to. Among other hip hop artist on the roster. Eshon Burgundy's music stood out the most among them, due to his dope lyrical content; while presenting the gospel that I'm able to relate to. Shoutout to him! God willing, I would love to work with him someday.
Tell us a little about your first CHH album?
A Sinner's Mercy, tells a story about grace and mercy, my trials and tribulations.
Tell us about the the singles?
The first single "Spiritual War" looks at putting on the Armor of God and applying your faith unto Him through trials and tribulations. "More like you" is about walking through life and searching for a greater meaning beyond worldly needs with positivity and stronger in faith and trying to become "More Like Christ"
Where can we find your music?
The music can be found on all digital outlets worldwide or on tentmakermusic.com
You can download "Spiritual War" here (if you want to listen to it first check out the visualizer at the end of this article)
07 SPIRITUAL WAR.wav
"More like you"- http://smarturl.it/xy1k88?fbclid
"A Sinners Mercy"- http://smarturl.it/asinnersmercy
What's next for you ( tour dates, new releases, etc)?
Currently been in the studio heavy finishing this New EP "Verbal Judo" with my brother from another mother also apart of He's Worthy Productions, engineer and producer Tony Rizzo got a couple of other surprises coming up can't wait to reveal everything to you guys really looking forward to it God is so good and amazing! I'm blessed to be apart of the Tentmaker Music fam!!!!
How can you be contacted for booking and collaboration?
Please feel free to DM me on any social media platforms, real talk I'm always open to build at Fellowship.
What is your best advice for this generation?
My advice is to put God first and everything that you do and stay obedient. I know a lot of times we might go off our own personal feelings and ambitions but God already knows what you need. He knew you before your mother did. Put your faith in him and become fruitful for the kingdom.
What does worship mean to you?
Fully devoting yourself by praising Him and humbling yourself upon his grace and mercy. We Often we take His grace and mercy for granted and fail the realize nothing is promised. Just being able to pray to God is truly an honor and blessing that He gives us to communicate with Him whenever.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this, we hope you enjoyed it! Check out a couple of OSI's singles below and stay on the look out as some new music is coming down the pipeline! To learn more about OSI visit his Tentmaker Music Artist profile page. Thanks again and as always, God Bless!
So as I was watching one of Flame's episodes of "Pay for it or Pray for it" on his Instagram, this beautifully, well written song comes across the air waves. Flame went nuts, and so did I. The very next day I tracked Dia down and sent a message. We were blessed to be able to come alongside and help her with the release of her first single "No One" (the song we heard on Flame's IG). Dia is an artist you need to be watching for, she has an incredible voice and fantastic song writing skills, we are very excited for her and can't wait to see what God has!
We had the opportunity to ask Dia some questions pertaining to her life and music, here is what she had to say.
Hey Dia! Would you please share a little bit of your testimony with us?
I grew up in a Christian family. My dad preached at our church every now and then and my mom was the children’s ministry leader. We went to church every Sunday, attended every church event, and went to every summer camp. My siblings and I learned a lot about God growing up and had a lot of biblical knowledge. On the outside our family was picture perfect but really, our home was filled with anger, pain, division, and depression. My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. We went from living in a huge house in a great area right outside the city to a small house in the city where 6 out of my 7 siblings and I lived with our mom until we “aged out.” I believed in Jesus and knew what he did for me on the cross at a young age but I completely surrendered my life to him when I was 11-12 years old.
Wow, thank you so much for sharing that, praise God that He did a work in your heart at such a young age and during a no doubtingly trying time!
How long have you been making making music & why did you get started?
I've been writing since I was 11, so about 12 years ago. I got started purely out of my love for music. I've had a passion for all kinds of music since I was young and as I got older I began to realize that I could actually write my own. My songs started out as letters to God, then poems, and then I would put notes together on my keyboard or guitar and make a song.
I can tell you that we for sure are thankful as we have been blessed by your music already and Lord willing there is more to come! It has been exciting to see people responding to "No One" the way that they are!
What are some of your goals as they relate to life and music?
My goals are to live up to my fullest potential that God has given me; all for His glory. Regardless of what it looks like, I just want to be wholly used to build His Kingdom.
It's my prayer that this is the goal for all of us as believers in Jesus! That's what's up!
Who are some of your favorite musicians (artist or band) of all time and who have been rocking to lately?
I actually don’t have a favorite! I listen to anything and everything from Christian Hip-hip all the way to Christian Rock with everything else in between. I’ve recently been listening to a lot of contemporary christian music like Casting Crowns. I'm huge on lyrics and Casting Crown’s lyric game is on 100.
Awesome, I agree they are for sure on point lyrically. Pretty rad that you listen to such a wide variety of music styles, there is so much good music out there!
So, you recently released your first single "No One", can you briefly share a bit about the inspiration behind the song and why you wrote it?
I wrote “No One” on my lunch break. I was working at a job that I really did not enjoy and was just struggling with my desire and passion to pursue music while also being content, grateful, and usable where I was currently at. The song is just a reminder of who God is to me and that I can rest in His sovereignty.
You wrote that song on your lunch break?? Wow! Ha, it amazes me when I talk to artists and I learn tidbits like that, how cool! Love it, and honestly what a great setting being that you were wrestling with working a job you didn't enjoy or care for to be reminded of God's blessings even in the midst of that.
We do like to have a little fun in these interviews, with that, if you were creating an Ice Cream Sundae, what flavors of Ice Cream would you use and what are your must have toppings?
Vanilla Ice cream….Maybe some cookie dough on top if I’m feeling really crazy.
I am sort of a plain Jane when it comes to my food. Vanilla is good. Lol.
Not gonna lie, that may very well be one of the worst ice cream sundae description I have ever heard lol. I am glad you are able to demonstrate that level of self control and enjoy things that simply. If I were to describe mine in comparison to yours I would look like a real fatty and out of control.
If you were to name a Playlist after your life, what would you call it, and what would be 3 songs you would include on that playlist?
It would be called “When will she learn!?”
My playlist would have “No one” by me, “Already there” by Casting Crowns and “Death of me” by RED.
What is a verse in the Bible that you consider a life verse and what is your favorite book in the Bible?
Life verse is James 1 (The full chapter) and my favorite book in the Bible is James or Philippians
Awesome, both of those books pack a punch for sure!
Do you have any practical advice you would like to share with aspiring Christian artists like yourself?
Pray. Pray. Fast, and then pray some more. Walk with the Lord and He will make your ways straight. Educate yourself in the music business as best as you can, push yourself lyrically, try to surround your self with other musicians (if you can) to bounce ideas off of and get inspired. There are lots of things that we have to do on our end. We can’t expect to sit and do nothing and then have our dreams come true. However, God is still God and His will is perfect. Just trust it. Trust Him.
That is some great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and again, we are seriously excited to see what God has for you!
Thank you all for reading this, we hope you enjoyed it and be sure to check out our other 1 on 1's.
Check out the lyric video for Dia's single "No One" below and if you like what you hear there are links to stream or purchase the song. Thanks again, God Bless!
by Jennings Riley
What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself. – Blaise Pascal, Pensee 435
Natural desires testify to “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). Unlike most other theistic proofs, however, the argument from desire does not have the clear conclusion, “therefore God exists.” The argument from desire attempts to show that reality is not limited to the physical world we experience. In other words, desire provides evidence for the immaterial, which is the transcendent. Although transcendence attests to God’s existence, God’s existence is not proved directly by the argument from desire.
The argument from desire begins with the observation that for every natural desire an object exists to satisfy the desire. A natural desire cannot make us hopelessly discontent. Accordingly, if we can identify a natural desire that is fulfilled only by the existence of a particular object, we can prove the existence of that object. As Christians, we believe that every human desires God and can provide evidence to support the belief. Non-theists, however, will probably not accept that they have a natural desire for God. Pascal wrote, “there is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition” (Pensee 430). For the sake of persuasion, therefore, we ought to use a less controversial desire. C.S. Lewis maintained that human beings experience a natural desire, which cannot be fulfilled by earthly experience. He called the objective of this desire joy. Our pursuits of happiness, purpose, and the good life are attempts to find joy. We always want more of these things and are not content with the amount we currently possess. Great experiences always fall short and are less than hope makes them. We have moments of almost indescribable joy, which we cannot recapture at will. If we accept that every natural desire is satisfiable, however, we must suppose something exists that fulfills the natural desire for joy. Since nothing in this world can satisfy our desire for joy, something must transcend this world.
Although Lewis was undoubtedly a brilliant man, his reasoning is not immune from critique. The notion that human beings naturally have a desire that cannot be fulfilled by the natural world seems far from obvious and needs justification. Similarly, the contention that every natural desire is fulfillable might be criticized, since we plainly possess desires that cannot be fulfilled. For example, I desire to meet Gandalf from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. This does not imply, however, that Gandalf is a real person. Both objections center around the notion of natural desire. Accordingly, we should consider the question, “what is a natural desire?”
Two sorts of desire can be identified, natural and artificial. Artificial desires are based on our environment and society, for example, craving Chick-Fil-A or the newest smartphone. Because people live in different environments, they have different artificial desires. By contrast, natural desires are not produced by any specific culture, class, or experience but from the human condition. Accordingly, natural desires do not change from person to person. They are common to all humanity and arise because of our identity as human beings. We desire food and water because we have bodies. We desire pleasure because we have senses. We desire love because we are relational. We desire knowledge because we are rational. Although the strength of the desire for water might vary from person to person, the desire itself does not. For this reason, we can still appreciate the psalmist’s words “as the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). The suppression of a desire does not make it less natural. An individual in a desert might suck on a pebble to suppress the desire for water, but the desire for water is indisputably natural. By analogy, although a jaded person might suppress desires for love or joy, those desires remain natural. The suppression of desires because of circumstances does not prove they are artificial.
This article is just ramping up! Finish reading over at GrowingDeeperRoots.org
As always, thank you so much for taking the time, we hope it is a blessing!
"Why do God's people sleep while the whole world goes to hell?" What a way to start an album!
We Are Victory wastes no time in establishing their purpose, they want to see people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and for believers to grow in their walk with Him. In a day and age where so many are watering down the gospel I am greatly encouraged by this band and their new album "Sirens". Before coming to Christ I was a big metal guy, I was heavily into Meshuggah, early Korn, the Deftones, Sepultura, and a bunch of grindcore and deathmetal bands that I won't mention. When I came to Christ it was clear to me that I needed to put my secular music away and stop listening to it. I am going to be honest, I was worried that I wouldn't find comparable or better bands. For years I have been on the hunt for solid Christ-centered metal. I share all that to say, We Are Victory brings all my favorite metal elements to the table from grindcore and deathmetal to punishing breakdowns and beautiful melodies. "Sirens" is such a dynamic album that takes you on a musical journey, and these dudes are not afraid to experiment with different sounds and styles all brought together with super smooth transitions. The album has many electronic elements weaved in and out as well and I personally love the tasteful use of autotune throughout the album as well. I think this is an under used tool in metal/rock and if done well it can add so much to a song.
For me, lyrics matter. As I stated earlier, we are in a day and age where so many are watering down the gospel, especially in music. What I really appreciate about We Are Victory is that they don't compromise the message in order to be heard. Right out the gate in their song "For Eternity" they make it clear that they are about following God when it is passionately sung "I will follow you to the end for eternity" and "You are worthy, You are holy. Let my heart's cry be for You to show me". And this is only the beginning of the album, it only gets better. I was going through their lyrics on genius.com and you can select the highlighted lyrics for notes about the song. I loved what I saw when I selected one of the lyrics, it said, "We are a Christian band, first and foremost. We do this music to worship the living God." This is evident in the chorus of the title song "Sirens" as it is beautifully sung "The warnings are all around, listen close, can you hear it now? These sirens are sounding out for the ones who will stand their ground, so the lost can be found." We Are Victory is challenging the body of Christ to get uncomfortable, to share the love of Christ through word and deed and seek to reach the lost for Jesus. It is clear to me that their music is not simply music, it is an admonition, it is exhorting the body of Christ into action. Complacency is a killer and their are lives at stake.
"Sirens" as a whole is a stellar album and for sure worth your time! A few stand outs for me are the songs "Burns Within", "Afresh", and "Endgame" but the whole album is really well written. If you are a fan of bands like I The Breather, For Today, Fit for a King, and Plea for Purging you are really going to enjoy We Are Victory. Fun fact, this album was DIY project. The band recorded and produced this album themselves and they achieved an amazing sound, this is quite an accomplishment!
If you are looking for a new album to jam out not only in the short term but one that you will find often in your rotation I want to encourage you to pick up a copy of "Sirens" by We Are Victory. We have included links for you to stream and purchase the album on your preferred platform.
At Tentmaker Music we are about promoting Christian artists that are promoting the Kingdom of God. We believe strongly that God is at work in the underground music scene in all genres and that is why we seek to support those underground bands that are serious about Jesus and making amazing music. We Are Victory is one of those bands, support them, this is a ministry and your support helps them continue to share the gospel through their music and their lives.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this, we hope you enjoyed your time. Below you will find the lyric video for We Are Victory's song "Endgame" and the links to stream/purchase. Follow them on Facebook, God Bless!