Different names do not a major label artist make.
Kirk Franklin live on the piano and “God Has Not4Got” a prior smash hit in 2004 – lend the audience a taste of upbeat, syrupy, easy listening but notable gospel music euphoria. There are high expectations again on this effort but there are no stars with the exception of the recording artist or many guest appearances.
What you see and hear is more than what you are going to get…A hip-hop, original, dubbed “nureau” gospel performance produced without a razor sharpened script by the performer himself who sometimes undergoes many image and clothing changes minus the props and lights. Or is Unspoken to be released Tuesday another pseudo-secular release?
California-based pastor, recording artist and musician Ton3x is a one of a kind recording artist. He doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, but gospel music has him by the foot and mind – his will to do “clean” holy hip-hop music on this effort has followed.
But will everyone agree with his breakout effort? Will he unite or divide? His old songs recorded in his childhood are considered collector’s items and fan favorites include “Make Me Over” from Out of the Box in 2003 and “Restoration” from 2000.
Ton3x, formerly known as Tonex in gospel music circles continues to kneel to his church roots but in a different sort of way. Compared sometimes to other top artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson, Battery Records’ Ton3x is a one of the kind artist. He has to kneel without cursing (although there was a former controversial release which had profane language) to his church roots and a higher power, but his barren, cryptic and sometimes, unorthodox work speaks in different volumes. Battery is a Sony BMG imprint and the company expects to expand his mainstream audience. Ton3x has been recording since age 10 and was formerly with Verity Records and has recorded constantly on his own label(s).
There is the new category (nureau) that Ton3x originated in 2008, hip-hop, and a bit of upbeat holy inspirational gospel on his most recent effort. He is relentless in his search for new sounds and hip-hop synthesizer and beat cohesiveness, in addition to amazing with a colourful, original, breathtaking stage presence. Constantly recording as an indie or major label artist, he is known also as rapper T. Bizzy, The Black Maverick and Pastor N8ion to name a few stage names; Ton3x is controversial and second to none.
A Grammy Award nominee, he has won six Stellar Awards and the latest single is the folksy, Afro-Caribbean “Blend” which is predicted to receive national secular and gospel music airplay.
Who is he to the gospel music industry and what does Ton3x want to become to secular fans? Where his heart is, his mouth seems to speak.
He is the same yet different. The sincerity of his heart in an industry controlled by somewhat indifferent music executives have never changed despite at times his major label contract or lack thereof. He is the Energizer bunny, which keeps going on despite not always being promoted heavily in certain gospel music or hip-hop circles.
According to published reports after a five-year hiatus from the major label gospel music scene, Ton3x, 33, is an actor, writer, and hip-hop producer and rapper, a jack-of-all-trades, but some are wondering if he is a master of anything. A consummate leader, Ton3x is not afraid to break new ground and even protest the recording industry but maybe the soil is too wet and a firm foundation with some traditional or contemporary gospel was missing on this effort. But the CD buying or downloading public will have the last call and say.
Ton3x may have to make some new amendments in the future.
This new effort is upbeat, creative, and if it doesn’t receive steady airplay play on gospel or mainstream radio, however there are other media and opportunities available: television and commercials to name a few. His first release using the name Ton3x was 2008’s Bapost.o.g.i.c reflecting Baptist, Apostolic and the Church of God in Christ religions.
Not content to be a slow-moving caterpillar as a Christian artist, he continues to metamorphous into an unknown brightness to some. Undaunted by fear, genre, or context, Ton3x is willing to venture into the unknown. He will fly wherever the spirit leads him. Hopefully he is led and guided by the correct light, making way for those seeking inward spirituality or wanting positive messages outside the traditional and contemporary gospel music box to be musically satisfied for a different type of worship experience.
Ton3x is the new wave church usher who is breaking the traditional or latest flexible Jell-O mold. Looking for bulletins promoting a hip-hop service complete with Twitter, other social media and video pages such as My Space or Facebook? Go no further.
There’s the pop-tinged “Cool With U” and 80’s music sounding “Joy.” Will his gospel music critics charge him with abandonment? Or will Ton3x be embraced as the artist who can’t stand repetition as an innovator? The jury lies with the general public, both his old defense and new hip-hop fans.