Doing good, man? Congratulations on the album, man. How did the album release party go in Akron, Ohio?
Thanks man I gotta give all praise to God. He is moving mightily for me. The release party was crazy!! There was so many people there just showing their love and support for the album. It was a beautifully thing!!! It was good to see young people on fire for the Lord and having fun in Gods house.
So, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get the name “Knine”?
I'm originally from Milwaukee and I got the name Knine from my love of dog's. As long as I can remember we ALWAYS had a dog around and I just love'em. A dog has qualities that, frankly, you can't find in a lot of people, the biggest being loyalty, fierceness, and dedication. Those are qualities that I want to come across when you hear my music – my loyalty to God and the gospel, a fierce rhyme style and a dedication to these lost souls.
How long have you been in the rap game, and who are some of your influences, if any?
I've been rappin' since forever, but I've been doing it for God for about 2 years. Most of my influences come from artists I grew up listening to and studying… Ice Cube, LL, Rakim, B.I.G… rappers that were LYRICAL, and could paint pictures with their words. I really respected that and just molded my style after them.
Your album, Born Again, just came out on August 23rd. Why did you decide to give the album this name? Is that your son on the cover?
It was really given to me from God. I was praying and fasting and asking God for some direction and themes and concepts for this album, and Born Again was what He gave me as far as a title. It just symbolizes a new start and a fresh beginning, starting over from scratch, which is why my son is on the cover. When I got saved I had to learn a whole new language without profanity, a new way to walking, living my life… I had a brand new Father… EVERYTHING was NEW as the old things passed away. So, Born Again was a very fitting title for the album.
Now that is out, what’s going on with Knine right now as a result? Have things changed for you any? What are you about to do now?
Since the album has come out things really haven't changed much for me. I'm still the same person and still do the same things. If anything, some of the people around me have changed. They look at you differently when they can go to the store and buy your album instead of buying it out of your backpack. So, they look at you with a little more admiration and respect like I'm famous. The public awareness of Knine
Undoubtedly, this album has many messages within it. There is something for everybody, and I mean that literally. What are you hoping happens with this project, and what do you hope the response to it will be?
With this project I want the people who buy it to know who I am and what God has brought me through and where he has brought me from. And know that if I can make it you can make it. I want people to be encouraged no matter what they are going through, no matter how they grew up and had to overcome. Spiritually I'd like to help save millions of souls, business-wise I'd like to sell millions of records of course.
Of course we know that the main reason for making an album is so that lives can be touched and changed, but at the same time I see nothing wrong with wanting sales do well also so that some money can be made. With that money, you can turn around and do even bigger things for the Lord the next time. It’s about your intent. Do you think we should be satisfied if we don’t make any money off of what we do? I say that because I think it takes money to do many things, and that’s why the world is able to advance its “message” as good as it can. They have the financial backing. Promotion and all of that… I mean, the bible even says that “money answers all things.” What’s your take on that, especially since I hear people yelling “soundscan this, and soundscan that.”? Many Christians miss the importance of supporting artists who really have a chance to put Christ on the map. Not just with your words either. I don’t think that’s the love of money. I think it’s wanting to be business-minded about this gospel message. He that wins souls is wise. (Laughing). Again, what’s your take on that?
If you don't care about your sales and don't want money then you should give your CD away for free and that's that. Take it out of the stores and just giv'em away, or just send them to stores and tell them to give them away free with each gospel purchase. If you are not willing to do that, then welcome to the music business – the business of selling records. You are now a businessman and a minister. If your records have you ministering the word of God on them, then it would be foolish to say "I don't care how many I sell" or "I'm not in this to sell records." For every record you sell – assuming you did a good job – the word of God is going forth helping, encouraging, edifying a fellow believer, or winning a lost soul. What do you mean you don't care? KnineU.S., not one HHH artist has been able to go platinum? Only two or three have gone gold! The numbers don't add up. That's like you see everybody in your town wearing – lets say – Lakers gear, but when game night comes nobody ever shows up. All these people are listening to something, and it ain't HHH. This is definitely the hard route to go if your are trying to get rich off of cd sales. So far I think its a "sour grapes" kind of thing. The artists feel they wont sell many records so they say they don't care, but deep inside I think we, artists, all care.
I was on the phone with one of the producers from the album, Tony Stone, just last week, and he was telling me that you labored for almost two years to get this project out. That’s a testament within itself (to Tony, Rob Hodge and others as well), because the album is so relevant with its content and the music is bangin’! I read this quote from you on your site, “There were so many hurdles and roadblocks I had to pass/climb/jump/crash through to get this album done and there were times I wanted to just quit but I endured and now I'm that much stronger, the same things that hindered me for this album wont slow me down one bit next time around.” What’s the story behind that?
It was really just searching for distribution during that two year period. I had and turned down four different distribution deals. Each time it was because the Lord told me to, but I was kinda doubting like "God, dudes would kill to get this deal!" But in the end I had to trust God. Then trying to get beats, trying to get songs recorded, choosing songs, cutting songs, redoing songs, and on top of all of that, life is going on at the same time. It was really an excercise in faith and trust in the Lord.
A lot of things were promised to me and a lot of things were taking from me, but I learned to put my trust in the Lord and not in man. This album has been done for two years but like you said it doesn't sound like it. I hope not (laughs and smiles). That's all God's doing. He preserved it. I never felt pressure to follow the latest trends musically and to do what's "hot." I just did Knine and chose solid music that stands the test of time. I think that's a true test of an album. Can it be played three, four, or five years from now and still be relevant? If it can, then the artist and, or producer have done their job.
Okay, Okay. Now for what I’m sure everybody wants to know. How did you get connected with Cheryl “Salt” James, former member of one of the most famous female hip hop groups in the world, Salt N Pepa, and also Lisa McClendon, one of the hottest Neo-Soul gospel artists out right now? By the way, I spoke with Cheryl’s husband, Gavin, last year and he was telling me that her album was supposed to be coming out in September of 2004. I guess the reason hers isn’t out yet is because she was working with you, hunh? Just kidding… (Laughing) But what was the whole experience like working with them?
It was a beautifu just to be able to work with Salt because I grew up with her on my wall! Then to be able to work with her was amazing!! She is so cool and down to earth and has an awesome testimony. She actually got a hold of one of my CD's somehow and got in touch with my people, and the rest is history. Lisa is like my big sister. When I first started doing shows and touring she took me under her wing and taught me a lot about the "business" and ministry. She's a real genuine person. It was just a blessing to have these heavyweights on my project.
As I mentioned, Tony Stone and Rob Hodge were some of the producers on the album? Who else did you have working behind the scenes with you on there?
I did a few tracks and I had a guy by the name of Big Al out of South Carolina drop a few bangers on there.
What’s your favorite joint on there and why?
Its a tie between"Better Place" and "These Eyes." Those two songs just paint vivid pictures and they are real emotional songs to me. I feel like God wrote those songs.
This gospel message definitely needs to hit the streets. The people within the four walls are already saved, and that’s why I’m glad you came the way you did on Born Again. You unashamedly present the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that many out there can understand. At the same time it’s hot! I just want to personally say “thank you” for not making a wack album! As Christians who love Hip Hop, we need to be on top of our game. Else, they won’t respect you or your message. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise either. You think that’s a true statement?
Without a doubt!! If I only had a dime for every time somebody told me "I thought all Christian rap was corny," or "I usually don't listen to gospel rap," I'd be a millionaire. These is a stigma that goes along with HHH and that is that we are wack – point blank. It's a struggle to get people to even listen to my CD when they find out I do HHH, but they are always pleasantly surprised when they do listen. So, maybe they will give another artist a chance. So, we have to fight that stereotype and get that respect.
I know the album just came out, but knowing the God we serve, He gives you a vision for today as well as tomorrow. What are some of the things on your heart to do in the future?
For the future I plan on building my label, Regardless Entertainment, and having a stable of great artists. One thing God showed me was a Christian Death Row Records. You know how a few years ago they had Pac, Snoop, Dre, Dogg Pound… everything they did was blazing! That was where the best of the best were. That's what I want to establish for the Lord, because only what you do for Him is gonna last anyway.
Are there any plans to go on tour?
Yep we got some top secret plans for the future that are gonna shock everbody – so stay tuned!!
What’s up with the label Regardless Records? Who are some of the other artists on the label?
Right now its just me and a spoken word artist, RAW WORD. But we are in negotiations with a few more people, so once again stay tuned!!
It has been a pleasure talking to you, man. Anything else you would like to say?
I just thank everybody for their love and support and for those who haven't already – go cop the album "Born Again" in stores nationwide!! Praise God!!!
God bless, man, and congratulations once again. You’re doing your thing!