Jonathan Bellamy spoke to John Wells, otherwise known as The Tonic, about THE CROSS MOVEMENT and their decision to finish recording albums together.
The recent visit to the UK of holy hip-hop pioneers The Cross Movement gave me a chance to speak to John Wells (otherwise known as rapper The Tonic) about their decision to make their latest release 'HIStory: Our Place In His Story' the last time the collective will record an album together. Since their emergence on USA's east coast in the mid-'90s the band have released a stream of cutting edge albums including 'Heaven's Mentality' (1997), 'House Of Representatives' (1998), 'Human Emergency' (2000), 'Holy Culture' (2004) and 'Higher Definition' (2004), the latter winning a coveted Grammy nomination for the ensemble. In his London hotel room John spoke about the band's history and future plans.
Jonathan: How are you doing in this British summery climate?
John: I'm chillin'. It's lovely here and I'm enjoying it and just trying to get over this jet-lag. But I'm good.
Jonathan: You guys come from Philadelphia and New Jersey, is that right?
John: Yes, that's right.
Jonathan: What are you doing in the UK?
John: Well, as usual, just coming to represent Jesus Christ through hip-hop, using hip-hop as a tool to share the good news and I'm here early too to enjoy a bit of London and walk around and see a few things.
Jonathan: Looking at your group, who precisely is or was in Cross Movement - it's something that has confused us in Cross Rhythms. We interviewed you guys in 2000 and then you had rappers Ambassador, Earthquake, The Phanatik and The Tonic but on your 'Greatest Hits' CD there are raps from The Gift, Cruz Cordero, Tru-Life and Enock. Who exactly is the current Cross Movement?
John: Yes - the current Cross Movement is: The Tonic, Ambassador, Phanatik and Tru-Life and we also have our DJ, DJ Official. Some of those other guys - Enock, he's one of the founders who started the whole group with Cruz Cordero, Earthquake and myself. Earthquake and I actually made up a group back in the day called The Gift. So when Cross Movement started it was a lot of guys and the Lord just whittled it down to about seven at first then through the past couple of years the Lord has carried it out with just the four of us.
Jonathan: How important to you is your relationships within all you guys?
John: It's very important. We really try to keep short accounts with one another. I mean being a group, it can be tough. This is our 10th year in ministry and in music. Some of us have been in a little longer but this has been our 10th year anniversary as the group Cross Movement and we've just been fortunate. I mean, I think that the word of God always charges us to be forgiving and loving towards one another so that's helped us get through a lot of our group dynamics and stuff.
Jonathan: Very good. Now I've heard a rumour and I don't know if it's true or not - you can put us right! Are The Cross Movement about to disband?
John: Well, I don't know about disband but most definitely this is probably our last album together. We just have a lot of other goals and stuff. I run the record label Cross Movement Records and have launched a new company called Issachar Media. Ambassador has become a teaching pastor at a church plant in the city of Philadelphia. Tru-Life is running Issachar Studios in Philadelphia. Phanatik has gone back to Bible college to finish a degree in biblical studies while maintaining a new website, christianhiphopper.com. So life is busy and different now and we really think that it's time to branch out and concentrate a little different, so we call it more of a transition than disbanding.
Jonathan: It's kind of expanding your influence really, being more effective.
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