Before Lecrae broke records this year as the only Gospel Rapper to ever debut in the Top 5 in sales, and the only Urban Gospel artist to have the # 1 and #2 albums on the billboard sales chart at the same time. There was Canton Jones. Wildly known as the most influential and respected Urban Gospel artist in the business. His songs “Holy Ghost Girl,” and “Stay Saved” were one of the few urban Gospel songs to receive crossover commercial success in the Gospel industry dominated by traditional Gospel music.
Not to take anything away from artists like Lecrae, Flame, Da Truth, and Trip Lee, but Canton Jones was for many years the liaison to understanding the Urban Gospel and Rhythm and Praise music scene.
Now that Lecrae has busted through stereotypes of Urban Gospel not having enough fans. Many label executives and networks are scrambling to find out who’s who in the suddenly emerging genres of Gospel Rap, Rhythm and Praise, and Urban Gospel.
Canton Jones has put a quality that is synonymous with where the genre has been headed for the last several years. His music videos and blend of singing and rapping merged with synthesized instruments have become his trademark sound.
Gospel Rap/Hip Hop used to be the punch line for secular artists and musicians to joke about, often having inferior beats and music production. Today, that is simply not the case. As equipment and recording studios have become more affordable, independent producers have been able to create beats rivaling their secular counter parts. Even secular mainstream producers like Rodney “Dark Child” Jerkins are producing beats for artists like Trinity 5:7 and various other Gospel artists.
Now the genre of Urban Gospel Music has one more hurdle to overcome. That’s radio time. Getting air-play is still hard to come by. Up until now the artists have been forced to build their following by social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. Radio at some point is going to have to set aside larger time blocks to play Urban Gospel music. The question then becomes, are Christians and fans of Gospel music ready for Gospel Rap and Urban artists? Will the music take listeners out of worship, or find a home with younger listeners seeking the word of God in a more contemporary way? A lot must still be determined. But one thing is for sure, Canton Jones will remain a pioneer and house-hold name when it does go viral.
Path MEGAzine catches up with Canton Jones at the 26th annual Stellar Awards. Listen to what he has to say when he is asked about the media’s sudden interest in Urban Gospel music. Find out what’s next for the artist, and how you can catch up with him on tour.