Former front runner of the Grammy nominated group The Cross Movement and now Xist Music artist The Ambassador speaks to HolyCulture.net about his upcoming project Stop the Funeral due out this summer and this new season in his life.
Shine: Let’s just get right into it. What’s the concept behind the new album?
The Ambassador: Well, Stop the Funeral is a new project that’s probably the most meaningful theological truth to me in this season. That is, in the face of death, destruction, dismay, disintegration and even decay, there’s got to be hope. Whenever somebody through their own folly or through circumstances beyond their control is in the face of losing something, especially life itself or freedom, there is this good news that exists, which is actually what our Gospel is all about. That, that death does not have the last say and that there is life and hope beyond it. So Stop the Funeral is just another way of being able to proclaim and appreciate the Good News of Jesus Christ who came to put an end to sin and death.
The Ambassador: The reason why I say that is because I felt like I brought personally on myself the potential of an early departure, or an early funeral and I cried out to God. And I think I also felt people sort of projecting that the only thing that could result from my own folly or my own sin be an appropriate death. It was then that God let me know even though that may be deserved, it wasn’t the only solution. That’s not the only solution for the person who is in Jesus who puts their hope in Him. I basically have an album called Stop the Funeral because I believe that’s what God did, that’s what He encouraged me with and so that’s my announcement to everyone else.
Shine: I’ve only had a chance to review a few tracks off of the album so far but let me just say, bruh you do know how to start an album off. The A-M is ridiculous.
The Ambassador: (Laughs) You know, I start the project off basically like “Here I am representing” because at the end of the day you don’t feel worthy. There’s a lot of battling the feeling of unworthiness, but at the end of the day you have to get back to representing. That’s what our whole mission is in life and that’s to glorify God by representing His way, His mind, His truth. So I start the whole album off “It’s the A-M reppin the I AM…” and that’s grace. That’s what happens when the funeral stops, you don’t just celebrate not being dead but you proceed with living.
Shine: You once tweeted asking your followers to pray for you pertaining to this project because of the change in hip hop. How has it changed since your last project The Chop Chop?
The Ambassador: Yeah man, well first of all it’s changed because we really are in a post Cross Movement era. So even from the last album I feel like Cross Movement, or that season of a Cross Movement has gone. Now, there are a number of other movements and players on the forefront that make us more of a memory. It seems like things are bigger now and more diverse than they’ve been but I don’t get a sense of what to be a part of. I don’t know if I’m just out of the loop because I’m trying to understand what there is to be a part of, especially now that I don’t have a group or a crew? The label that I’m on now, we’re not a group/crew like that of a Cross Movement so I’m like, who are the leaders that are stirring up movements or things to be apart of? I don’t know what’s going on besides people just running in their lane.
The Ambassador: We might be moving to a season where there are just a bunch of people doing a bunch of things. Like “Do you.” (Laughs) You know what I mean? It seems like there was once a greater cohesiveness and I don’t know how that is because people have always been complaining about a lack of unity. I don’t know why I didn’t feel the disunity or a fragmentation like I feel it now, but it could just be that I’m getting back in and once I re-emerge with a project I’ll be invited into what’s going on. But I say it’s changed because I can’t get a sense or a pulse of what’s going on besides a bunch of individual efforts going in mad directions. But once again that could be me just being out of the loop, so I don’t want to be arrogant like if I don’t know about it, then nothing is going on. (Laughs)
Shine: How do you feel about the term “Pioneer”? A lot of times it can be a plus or a negative. How do you feel about being labeled as one?
The Ambassador: Right, (Laughs) it’s a code word for you’re old.
The Ambassador: Well, I know what they mean so I guess I take it for what it is because the truth is the light. Every time I talk, I talk of an era that’s come and gone. Anytime you’re old enough for an era to have come and gone and to have set a trajectory and there seems to be a new trajectory, I understand. I figured that I don’t mind the pioneer piece because its up to me now to demonstrate a longevity that’s going to be required to offset the “You’re old aka irrelevant” because to be seasoned is one thing but to be irrelevant is another. That’s what Stop the Funeral is. Its not just you hanging on by a thread and you didn’t croak but you’ve been brought back to life with vitality. So demonstrate that.
Shine: How did the Xist deal come about and what’s it like being on the new label?
The Ambassador: Really, Xist came about after being a little baffled. I’ll be honest man I hate telling these aspects of my story but it’s almost like no one will be able to understand how a lot of this I believe is the providence of God. I’m even surprised looking at what God is doing. Because I thought I was well surrounded by a type, you know? My type or my kind of friends, my kind of Christians and I just thought I was going to find home or a haven amongst them. That didn’t happen and it so confused me that I think I became open to what I would have not normally have become open to. I don’t believe I would have been open to anything different had I got the kind of reception from my kind.
The Ambassador: But to make a long story short, I was basically like I can tell (Pauses) I’m on my own so what am I going to do? And at first it was do nothing but fade to black. But then there was a desire to not let that shame be the end of the story. I was willing to basically get with anybody who would give me a chance. Then it became well why don’t we go with some “major label” from a Christian perspective. Let’s find somebody who has a little prestige you know, somebody that at least people will respect. It was almost EMI I think that they were looking to at least maybe get behind us. But then my manager said that there is a small label that is trying to really get in this thing and they’re willing to give you an intimate approach rather than just bigness without concern or care. I basically got sold on this intriguing idea that there were a couple dudes who had a small label and had some history but were basically looking for a franchise player to sort of build a team around, a credible name of somebody who really had a Christian hip hop history to go with there zealousness and there investment.
The Ambassador: And again somehow God allowed me to be so desperate for fellowship and Christian connection, I was like “If they’re saved and somebody wants to work with me, I’m there.” (Laughs) I was just so hungry to go somewhere where my error wasn’t the pink elephant. It started with them and I went and worked with Sean Simmonds one weekend and we ate and we just laughed. That was therapeutic for me. Then we went on a cruise and we had further fun and just enjoyed the fact that we all had a reason to need, other than what we already had. And I just think that we gelled and I believe that God gave me a comfort that usually comes with time. So we came together and it just started working from there.
Shine: What would you like the fans to walk away with from this project?
The Ambassador: Well one thing I want the fans to walk away with is a sense that Ambassador didn’t rush past his burnout. But that Ambassador took even great joy in sifting everything that happened to him through the grit of scripture, only to see how opportune the lessons are for every believer. I really want them to say that God really did give him some more breath and depth. I want them to walk away saying that he learned his lesson. He’s not hiding, nor is he glorying in it, but he’s promoting that same Gospel as now the prime recipient of it.
Shine: For the readers, what’s something we don’t know about you?
The Ambassador: So when I was a kid I believed this commercial about some sneakers called Zipps. The kid in the commercial was jumping over trash cans and they had him jumping over all this stuff and I actually believed that they helped you jump farther. (Laughs) So I basically got some Zipps and went and tried to jump over a bunch of trash cans. So yeah, that was a case of a kid believing advertisement and marketing too much. I put too much trust in some sneaks called Zipps.
Shine: When does the album officially drop?
The Ambassador: July 12th
Shine: Any final words?
The Ambassador: Just that you’re looking at a dude who’s mad grateful for the opportunity of another chance. And I pray that everyone will enjoy me talking through my journey, because the album will really take you on a journey and I pray that you see that and thank the God of our salvation.
Shine: Well Deuce, I want to officially thank you for taking this time out to speak with Holyculture.net and continued success.
Written by Shine