DJ LostNFound Strives for Unity in the CHH Sphere with ‘Caesura’ [INTERVIEW]
With what started as an eleven-year hiatus, DJ LostNFound endured a journey full of depression, brokenness, and dependency on Christ. Now that God has delivered him out of his Caesura (interruption/break) season, he is equipped to edify the body of Christ through music with all that he has gone through.
After DJ LostNFound dropped his highly anticipated album CAESURA with a heavy roster, we at Rapzilla decided to sit down with LostNFound and talk about what the project meant to him and what it can do for others.
What’s your overall thought with the CHH scene, with rappers who are Christians, Christians who are rappers, being explicit, labels, what are your overall thoughts about that?
I mean if I can give a little bit of an overview of my thoughts, I think that we should be inclusive of not everything it should all line up with scripture. And everything should line up with the general motive of the gospel. While that should be the foundation of CHH, we shouldn’t ostracize the ones who just want to do this for entertainment. We look at things like Pureflix and Saltflix, those things are for entertainment for Christians. We don’t put them down. Some people in CHH are afraid to do this for entertainment. You can do a portion for entertainment and entertaining Christians because we are humans. The other portion being, it’s going to bleed into your music anyways because you are a light-bearer regardless.
How explicit you are? It depends on what you want. At one point in my life, I was listening to Derek Minor back when he was Pro, and he drew me to CHH. He wasn’t crazy explicit for Christ, but it was there. But now I’m at a place where I listen to Timothy Brindle and all he’s preaching is Old Testament; nothing about himself just Old Testament. I think there is space for both, and I think that the fact is that we have freedom in Christ to do both. I think both are godly, I think both feeds into different needs into different areas where people are in their life. An evangelistic tool might be something that is not explicitly Christ but implicitly Christ. We have far too little unity in the genre.
How do you feel about the indie scene?
I think that indie is the future man. I think that we finally are at a place where we have the freedom to creatively express our self, and we have the means and distribution to be able to do it, you know what I mean? You sign up with Distrokid and its $28 a year something like that? We have the means to get our music out there. I’m more of an old head at 33 but when I would put my stuff out there it was the equivalent of dropping on SoundCloud and hoping that 20 people hear it. There are more ears open to it now. Being Indie now I think you can carve your own lane. As long as you aren’t lazy. If you’re lazy in indie, it’s a wrap!
Being Indie you have to be your own team; you have to promote yourself.
I interned with the New H2O last year for six months. That’s where I fell in love with like the Indies. I don’t even blame Rapzilla or the other bigger platforms because honestly as big as Rapzilla seems, it’s still a boutique close-knit platform. You can’t cover everybody, it’s impossible. I don’t think that we can put that amount of pressure on Rapzilla or any of the big platforms out there. For me, I am trying to build my own platform for the other artists that I listen to that I think are dope, and to be honest are doing better than me as far as building their platform. I started building mine this year. I’m adhering to a lot of those same things.
I’m learning about marketing, learning how to do the music side of business things. Because I don’t want anyone to be like, “Yo you didn’t give me my royalties” or something like that. I’m not playing that game. I think as well as making excellent music, we have a responsibility to be godly in our business. Those same people who say they want theologically sound rap, be the same ones who do terrible business. You gotta have both.
“Yo I see you, not only do I see you I’m going to pay you your fee that you asked for, I’m gonna pay you royalties on top of that, I’m gonna try to get it placed here. It’s really just me trying to love and encourage others.
You took an eleven-year hiatus so what does it mean that you’re out of your Caesura season and you’re walking in God’s will for your life?
You know what? It’s being in a new place honestly. I don’t know what’s to come, I try not to set too many plans, at the same time I’m more of an artist now. When you’re curating, and you’re the person who’s front and center, you have to take on that artistry role. I’m somebody who loves to be in the background. But in order to be successful with what I’m trying to do, I have to put myself out there. That means being on social media more, that means posting more even though I might not want to but post more because you have to have content.
Where I was before my hiatus, I was a producer. As far as a producer you give your beat over, you might not get the song back, but if you do, you don’t have a crazy amount of responsibility after that. You’ve done your part. I don’t know exactly where this is going to lead, I would love to be an official A&R for a label. But at the same time, I don’t even know if that’s in God’s plan; everything I planned He’s gonna separate, you know I didn’t even plan on making an album, but He’s shown a way. We’ll see what happens.
What’s the biggest block you had creatively with this project?
The biggest block for me was COVID. I’m not the one who’s recording the vocals or creating the beat, I’m curating. So, I still have to rely on the artist to get me a feature back. I started working on this in January of this year, but in March the country shut down, if folks didn’t have a home studio, they could not record. So that was one of those things where you’re like do I wait for these vocals because I really believe in this person and what they can deliver, or do I wait four months?
That was different but it was a good experience as far as managing over 25+ artists and producers. You know you’re managing all those communications, numbers and stuff like that I think it was pretty successful.
How did you go through the selection process for you chose for the album?
As I said, I worked with the NewH2o and what that did honestly was brought a lot of the relationships that I was able to cultivate. You see with JustCallMeDT we started our relationship there, and he saw the articles I would put out once a week and from there it was just knowing where the artist would fit. You don’t wanna reach out to someone and they send a verse and it doesn’t work. So, I was able to figure out what style would complement you best fit you; really just trying to find that right fit.
There was some like Th3 Saga that was just happenstance. I wasn’t expecting to get Th3 Saga or Selah The Corner. Those were just like a match made in heaven. I hadn’t seen them on a song together in which to me, makes so much sense to have both of them on one song. They are able to capitalize on both of their strengths and even like with Th3 Saga he went above and beyond what I was expecting with the sing-song route that he executed flawlessly. I think it was just a matter of being able to understand, and that I believe is an A&R role; understanding what the artists’ strengths are and how can I best set them up for success.
In a perfect world, what time do you think the album would’ve dropped if corona never happened.
It actually started out as a 5 song EP and that would’ve dropped pretty quick probably in July to say the latest. But then I just fell in love with the process man as far as being back on the artist side of music.
It became a 15-song project, but I had to chunk it down. I know I like to listen to a full album at like 15 songs I was shooting for like 50 artists but at the same time, is that realistic for people to digest? People aren’t listening to a fifteen-song album like that. So, I got with a producer for a song that I have coming up and he said, “You should truncate the album down to like six tracks something like that.” So, I got it down to eight tracks, that was something that I was happy with and that were cohesive, that can really tell the story of what I’m trying to do as far as building up these artists. I want to show unity with this project you know.
When all the marches with the Black Lives Matter movement began, how did that affect what you were doing, and how did that hit you personally?
For me it affected my creativity as a DJ. How am I supposed to put on happy music and I’m feeling more depressed you know what I mean? With this project, however, I didn’t feel that way. With “Black in America,” that wasn’t even my concept for the song. My concept was more biblical, but I sent it to my boy D King, and this is going into an artist having the freedom as well. He actually came up with the concept for Black in America. It was so timely like bruh this is exactly where we are going.
Then I got Lamar Riddick on it because I knew I wanted to work with him, he was somebody I knew was in the forefront, he was out marching. So, I knew he could bring some content from the heart and that was really important to me.
I wanna market this outside the CHH sphere, to something like World Star Hip Hop, just people who use the hashtag black lives matter so people can run into it who I normally wouldn’t run into in the Christian space. You also are getting some hope out of this song also. We aren’t just talking about the issues in the song, but we are also giving hope at the end of the song also. I’m hoping will people will get that hope, latch on to even what I’m doing, and maybe even come to know Christ through the music that I’ve shared.
What’s your advice for someone who’s currently in their Caesura season? Someone who is currently away from what they know God has called them to do.
For someone who is still in that season, I think you gotta understand that there is a purpose for it. God has a purpose for that. For me, it was the sitting me down because I was at a place where I was not honoring Christ, the artists that I was working with I was not in CHH at the time, it wasn’t honoring Christ at all. It was to the point where I almost got a placement with Slip ‘N’ Slide Record so that’s Trina, Rick Ross, Trick Daddy back in ’07.
Imagine if I had gotten that placement you know what I mean? Imagine if I had started interning with this producer that I was about to intern with back then? If I had been like my friends who have a record with Kanye, I have friends who were placing songs with Cartoon Network back in ’06 back before I even knew what a placement was! I would consistently see these people who are “making it” and who are successful and I’m the one out of the group of all music producers, and all musically inclined I’m the only one not making it. It takes you to a point where you get broken down and God had to break me down to my foundation.
Now I’m so grateful for it because honestly, I would’ve either killed myself, I would’ve gotten a terrible deal on something, or I would’ve ended up with some kids that I wasn’t supposed to have. That was all within the realm of possibility because I was not submitting my life to Christ.
For the person who’s out there now and you’re in your caesura time, understand through scripture, what it is that God wants you to do. And it might be as simple as living for Him. For me He took me on an eleven-year journey, where I had to be removed from music as far as releasing it, then I got plugged into my local church body, and for eight years I was not worried about making music at all. I was very content with just serving, but now I think, He has remolded me and said, “Now, you’re ready. I’m gonna send you out and you’re gonna be used for the body.” Honestly, I think that is what my position is, so just know what your position is, know that Christ is in charge, sovereign and supreme over whatever situation you’re in, and know it’s being used for his glory and not yours. I think that’ll be what gets you through.