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An Interview with Mark J

Published on February 1, 2011

“Every once in a while God sends a wake up call…” Mark J We got to discuss just that as we chopped it up with Mark to discuss his recent video “Tumbling Down ft Sho Baraka” and other things.

Shine: For those new to, why don’t you give us a little of your background and how you got to where you are?

Mark J: Well I was born in Jamaica Queens N.Y. I was raised up in the center of hip hop and was kind of inundated with hip hop from the get go. I always been a “church go-er” but I was wildin out in New York so my moms decided to move me down to Atlanta to get me out of the environment. That’s when I found God and accepted the Lord into my life. I wanted know how I could utilize my ministry/talents because really all I knew at the time was hip hop. God gave me an avenue through a group of brothers He had given the same vision to right around the same time and I’ve been ministering ever since.

Shine: Do you take speaking engagements also?

Mark J: I probably do more speaking engagements than I do events. I’ve been speaking for at least a good 15 years now. I do more speaking and teaching events than I do rap events yet most of them just coincide with each other.

Shine: Some have thought you were a pastor, exactly what is your role in the church?

Mark J: I’m not a pastor, my role is a “Decision Counselor”. It’s when a person comes up for invitation and accepts the Lord I am the one who actually helps lead them to the Lord. Its part of our discipleship ministry and I also teach men’s bible study and I’m part of our evangelism ministry.

Shine: So why hip hop?

Mark J: Because it just came second nature to me. It was indigenous to my environment growing up in New York. When I first started in hip hop I was like “Man, what can I do?” I wasn’t necessarily a battler but I did do lunchroom battles in school and would freestyle. Then when me and couple of my boys got saved, it happened right around the same time. We would freestyle before we got saved, so we would just end up switching it up for God afterwards. We use to do it for fun until someone came along and said that we should try to legitimize it. So we did one event and the response afterwards made us realize that we should take it more serious. So it was like the Lord saved me from where I was to put me right back into it. Another reason for hip hop is that it spreads across so many people groups. It reaches poor, rich, black and white. It also breaks down stereotypes which makes it a powerful medium when you can do that.

Shine: Let’s talk about the video “Tumbling Down”, how has the response been?

Mark J: (Laughs) Crazy, it’s been crazy. Shout out to “Juice”, “Sho Baraka” and everybody down at “Space Cherry Films”. They did a ridiculously awesome job. A lot of people don’t know that “Juice” who’s over “Space Cherry Films” also produced the track. I always knew I wanted to make a video of that song because I just felt it was so powerful when the Lord gave it to me. So yeah, the response has been good particularly from military folks. We’ve had people in tears watching it. Some where Vietnam vets and it makes you think, “Man, would I really die for what I believe in?” “If I was in that situation, what would I do?” It really kind of follows Stephen in the Book of Acts showing that martyrdom always strengthens the church somehow.

Peep the video:


Shine: Do you think that CHH has veered off regarding our level of commitment?

Mark J: (pauses) Well, I’ve always thought that CHH was like a small reflection of the church. Not to just poke at CHH alone but I do think we’ve become very passive. I think a lot of people rely on others as anchors and we’ve gotten off of the true Anchor. God always sends “Wake up Calls” and this could just be another one. If anything, even if it’s to myself it’s a reminder that it’s not about sales.

Shine: What’s next for you and your music?

Mark J: Right now we’re working on a new album. I’m like half way through it. It should be done by mid February and were looking to drop it by mid summer. Don’t quote me on that. (Laughs) Yeah, but it’s crazy. I’m working with Tony Stone, Juice and a few other new producers. I don’t want to give away the title too early (Laughs) but its coming out bananas. We’re going to be working with Space Cherry again. We’ll be shooting some more videos. I wouldn’t say necessarily on a similar tip but definitely with the same emphasis that “Tumbling Down” had.

Shine: Are you still with “Much Luvv Records”?

Mark J: I was for minute. What happened was that my “City of Pain” album was licensed through “Much Luvv”. So it was like a one album deal. We’re all still good family, shout out to Tre 9. So yeah, we’re all family and we talk from time to time. I was building for a minute with those cats in Houston and they’re still going strong. So yeah right now, I’m still independent.

Shine: So what’s your viewpoint of CHH right now?

Mark J: (pauses) You know, from just being here in ATL I’ve been building a lot with Sho Baraka. I like what Reach Records is doing. They’re doing a lot of things outside of hip-hop and they’re kind of utilizing their influences for other areas. I definitely appreciate that. So you see certain people doing positive things and then you see others trying to follow their model hoping to get the same result. I think that everybody just needs to do themselves, you know what I mean.

Shine: What is something that we don’t know about Mark J?

Mark J: (Laughs) This might be too embarrassing, but I love “Serendipity” dog. It’s a romantic comedy…

Shine: (Laughs) It’s all good, I’ve seen it too.

Mark J: But I’m saying it proud and bold “Serendipity” is my favorite comedy. I like romantic comedies. I’d rent them before “Scarface”. (Laughs)

Shine: Any final thoughts?

Mark J: Yeah, I just want to say let’s keep the Lord lifted up and cop “An Everyday World”.

Shine: Thanks for taking this time to speak with and continued success.

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Written by Shine
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