Something new today, readers: Ever On Word is excited to present an interview with hip hop artist T.J. Pompeo (that’s t.Jay to you, music world)!
A lot of today’s hip hop has me cringing like a minstrel forced to listen to… well, a lot of today’s hip hop. My main gripe with it is the content, which is usually nothing but a lot of, “Hey, [cuss], check me, I’m [cussing] awesome, [cuss, cuss, cuss]!” Not my style, not what I want in my head, and not at all what’s to be heard on T.J.’s recently-released album, “Iris”.
I had the pleasure of meeting T.J. in person when he and the rest of the talented bunch known as Soulseed played a concert at my church last summer, and have been creepin’ on his Facebook page ever since. There’s a good deal more I could say about this guy – like what an inspiration he is to me as a creative Christian, or how one of his YouTube videos helped me stand strong against personal temptation, or, and, also, in addition to, plus… – but that wouldn’t be much of an interview, now would it? So what say I quiet down a bit and we hear from the man himself? T.J, come on down! *applause*
Thanks for joining us, Teej! First, a little background. How did you get started in music?
I got started in music with trumpet, actually. I started playing back in middle school when I was 11. I really enjoyed it and it always kept me connected to music in some form or another. Then when I was 15, I really noticed that I liked the genre of hip hop. My older brother and all 6 of my older cousins up in NYC did underground hip hop at that time and would always tell me that I should try it out. So after A LOT of encouragement, I decided to finally write my first song in February of 2006. Of course, it was incredibly amateur (terrible… haha), but I didn’t care. It provided an outlet for me to express myself and I fell in love with it INSTANTLY. From that point on, hip hop and I were inseparable. Of course, at that time, I wasn’t saved, so I was doing all secular hip hop. My crossover to Christian hip hop came months after my conversion to the Kingdom.
What went into the creation of “Iris”? What inspired the project?
“Iris” entailed MANY, MANY hours of creative energy and MANY sessions for re-recording, but it was such a fun album to create! Every ounce of energy that went into it was well worth it and it was such a blessing to be able to give it to the listeners for FREE. I chose “Iris” as the title for the following reasons:
–The iris is part of the anatomy of the eye. Its function is to respond to the amount of light entering the eye, which then allows the muscles attached to the iris to expand or shrink at the center of it, depending on how much light it’s receiving. It correlates and connects directly with the pupil of the eye. The larger the pupil, the more light can enter.
Spiritually, this has significance, too. Is my spiritual “iris” allowing in all of the Light that God is trying to reveal to me? If it’s not, then my spiritual pupils are small and shrinking, and they’re not fully receiving the “eyes open” experience and revelation that the Lord has for me. I want to EXPAND my knowledge of who He is and what He’s calling me to, not shrink it. NEVER SHRINK IT! Daily, I want to let ALL of the Light in that He has for me and enhance my iris so that I can continue to become a true “pupil” of Christ!
–In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and she is the messenger of the gods. She travels with the speed of the wind from one end of the world to the other, and into the depths of the sea and the underworld. I know I’m not a female… nor am I a goddess… haha, BUT! I am a messenger for THE ONE TRUE GOD. And you already know what that message is allllll about! HOPE AND LOVE through Christ! The Gospel has traveled from one end of the Earth to the other and He’s called all of us to be a part of that process (The Great Commission)! I know that I’m called to go into our modern-day depths of the sea and our modern-day underworld where sin is most prevalent and bring that message forth of HOPE and RECONCILIATION!
(An excellent naming, Authorial Me approves.)
What is your songwriting process like?
To put it quite simply, the HOLY SPIRIT.
(The ultimate muse!)
Which were some of your favorite songs to write? To record? To listen to?
I’ll do my top 3 for each.
– Favorites to write: “This I Pray”, “Reason”, “The Meaning of Purpose”
– Favorites to record: “Fantasy”, “No One”, “New Me”
– Favorites to listen to: “No One”, “Who Am I?”, “Fantasy”
(My top 3: “The Meaning of Purpose”, “Find the Answers”, and… er… either “Phone Home” or “We Go”. It’s hard to decide!)
Where can my dear readers access a copy of the album?
You guys can pick up a copy of the album FOR FREE at: tJay.Bandcamp.com. When you get to the site, just click the “Buy Now” link and then enter in a zero as your amount and you’ll get the free download!
(Feel free to pause the reading of this blog post to go do that now. Don’t worry; I’ll wait for you.)
What other projects or performances have you got in the works?
I’m currently workin’ on my next project and am INCREDIBLY excited about it. It’s gonna have some amazing features on it and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it! It’s set to release somewhere in the time frame of July-September of this year. An exact date hasn’t been decided upon just yet.
(Lookin’ forward to it!)
Any last words (I ask in my most ominous voice)?
For myself, the word that God has been hammering into my everyday thought process is… OWNERSHIP. Owning up to what the Lord has called me to; a.k.a., taking FULL ownership of it. Kind of like a piece of property, the call to being men and women of God is something that all of us inherited at the moment of our spiritual rebirth. I know FOR ME, the Lord has made it very plain that it’s time to take ownership of biblical manhood and not avoid the calling ANYMORE! I challenge each of you reading this to begin to take ownership of your inheritance. Whether you’re a male or a female is insignificant. The time for all of us is NOW. Own it.