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Recently I had the privilege of setting down to a phone interview with legendary Christian Hip-Hop artist T-Bone to discuss his latest album and some other personal stuff in his life. The following is a more condensed and understandable version of that conversation. When I sat down at my computer and began typing out these questions I wasn't sure how the flow of the interview was gonna go. I was absolutely thrown back when I dialed the number and T-Bone picked on the other end. He immediately jumped right into talking about the new album, and was more than willing to answer some more personal questions as well. In my opinion he is still one of the most honest and real people in the industry. I will be using the abbreviation T for T-Bone, and MC for myself of course. Enjoy.
MC: First let me start by thanking you for this amazing opportunity. It's an honor to finally speak with you. I have been a big fan since I fist saw the video for Lyrical Assassin, while sitting in my living room in rural Missouri watching ZTV?
T: That's a long way back man, that's like '93, right?
MC:I watched that on ZTV which is a station that doesn't even exist anymore.
T: Hehe, I think there's a whole lot of stuff that don't exist since way back then huh…
MC: Your new album is a well defined collection of the past couple records, how would you describe your thoughts regarding the purpose behind this new project?
T: Well I just wanted to compile a lot of my best work from the past 6 years, and there's also a ton of collaborations on this album.
MC: The track "Name Droppin" is a pretty hot approach at spitting about all of the old school Christian artist. What was the purpose behind this one?
T: We actually just shot the video of that on Tuesday, it was amazing; we had everyone from TobyMac, Jeremy Camp, John Schlitt from Petra, the guys from Take 6, Audio Adrenaline, Rachel Lampa, umm, who else am I missing here? Dawkins was there. So it was really cool, it was a cool, cool thing, to be able to do the video, I think people loved it because I don't remember when the last time was it that all these artists came out to do a video together. So it's cool because I am honoring them. Showing them support and it also shows a lot of unity, shows how God's letting us be one so the world will believe. It's cool that it show we are from all different cultures, and all different upbringings, different music, yet we all have one thing in common and that's Christ. So it was an amazing day and I can't wait to see it. Hopefully it will be out soon, in like 3 weeks.
The concept of it is where I am walking down this hall, and we have tons of pictures of artists, in this video and when I rip their picture off the wall and shove it into the camera and it blacks out, but when it pulls back out its actually the artist that I say rapping and then me and Eric (Dawkins) on the hook. It was actually a lot of fun, it was a 17 hour shoot, but hey, man, it was worth it.
MC: Lets talk a little about the Worship song on the album, "Sing Your Praises" how this what was the reasoning behind the dual language versions of the song?
T: We did the 2 versions, one bilingual and one all Spanish. People have been wanting me to do an all Spanish song for a long time, hopefully it will open a door. People will definitely love it, cause its so different, its got that Shakira style.
MC: The music itself is a really great Caribbean/Arabic mix, but when paired with the emphatic and quite thought-provoking lyrics, and the beautiful backing vocals by Natalie LaRue, The song absolutely explodes off the album. Nearly putting itself in a class all It's own. What was your inspired this style of music for this track?
T: I have been listening to a lot of Caribbean, and Latin American music lately and that has influenced the song. It was a lot of live instruments, we had live flute, and Cellos, guitars, percussion, piano, it was the whole nine, we went for it.
MC: I noticed you mentioned performing at the Latin American Music Awards in Mexico City. Were you nominated for any awards there this year?
T: Naw, they just asked me to come and perform there. I performed there about 3 years ago and they asked me to come back. Then they found out I did this song ("Sing Your Praises"). Who knows maybe next year "Sing Your Praises" will be nominated for that category since its an all Spanish song.
MC: Taking a look at the T-Bone of 10 years ago, compared to the T-Bone of today, you have always stayed with the same style of rap, even though your beats have always evolved you have kept a consistency to your rhyming styles, where other artists have gone more commercial, or even switched to Rock or more of a pop sound; What is the reason behind your consistency?
T: Really, I wouldn't label it "West Coast" cause there are a lot of people that would say that I am not West Coast. Its more lyrical, you know, it's more of a street sound to it. The reason for staying that way is that I can't be something I am not. I make records to reach people, for me there's a purpose to what I do. I still do alter calls at every show that I do. I don't write fairy tales. Everything I write about is stuff that has happened in my life. Its about not forgetting where I come from. When they (the fans) hear a T-Bone record they know where it comes from.
MC: On a more personal note, I myself am a minister, and my wife and I work with inner city kids, kids from the streets, are you really involved in depth with your home church, or do you have ministries that you work with regularly in your hometown?
T: I am on the road a lot, but I definitely work a lot with my home church, I am an ordained minister at my church, I do what I can there to help, ministry is a lifestyle, I always say that ministry doesn't start the second you step on stage, it starts the second you step off stage.
MC: So what are the top ten artists/songs on your iPod, if you have one?
T: Top Ten Artists are probably gonna be: Eric Dawkins, Kirk Franklin, Mark Anthony, some 'Salsa' stuff, I got a lot of world music, gotta dude named Viktor, this Persian type stuff, it's hard to answer. I got some Reggeaton type stuff on there.
MC: Any chances of coming up north around Erie, PA for a concert in the near future? Just kidding.
T: Actually I did perform up in Erie a few years ago. But if people wanna find out what I am doing they can go to the website www.houseoftbone.com, also the myspace, which looks incredible, that's www.myspace.com/boneybone , also there's the youtube site, that's www.youtube.com/tbonemusic .
So there you have it folks, a real perspective into the life of T-Bone. Go get the new album it hit the stores back on September 25th. Also be watching GMC, and TVU for the video to Name Droppin' its definitely off the hook.