I was very blessed to have an open, honest convo with the staggeringly gifted J Moss.
His newest project, Just James, is due in stores this Cast Iron Teapots coming Tuesday (the 25th). It’s his most transparent to date, I think (click here to read my full review) and I urge you guys to buy it when it hits stores.
In this interview, I didn’t hold back and neither did he… he’s a great guy whose sincerity doesn’t end with his music. No need for intros… here’s the one and only J Moss.
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EJ: *laughs* How’s it going, man?
JM: Man, I’m absolutely wonderful!
EJ: That’s a good way to be. I really appreciate you for taking a minute to chat with me.
JM: No doubt.
EJ: Well, let’s jump right to it by talking about this new album, Just James. I think it’s incredible.
JM: Do you, man? C’mon EJ! C’mon, man. Go’n and be real with your boy! Let’s have a real session.
EJ: For real! I’m tellin’ you… and I said it in my review. I’m pretty sure that I love it more than any other album you’ve done. You have a way of taking pretty familiar ideas and just makin’ them completely different, completely fresh and completely relevant.
I mean… it made the car. And when we put a CD in the car, that means it’s something special.
JM: You sound like me. *laughs* Yeah! If it can make the car, it works. So, okay, I’m talking to real folk right now. Ok, I’m good! *laughs*
EJ: *laughs* Talk to me about this project– what does it mean for you?
JM: Awww, man… God’s heart. If I can put it in two words– it’s God’s heart. The first record, I was hungry, I was a rookie. I just wanted to be out there. I had a great machine behind me with Vicki Mack & GospoCentric, and PAJAM. And it took off. And I thank God for them because it was really the truth.
JM: But then the next record, V2, was coming off of the success of V1. So, now I’m feelin’ myself. I’m calling all my friends– I got Steve Harvey, Anthony Hamilton, the list goes on. Great record– live strings, live band, all kinds of stuff. But that was MY record.
THIS record, V3, is God’s record. It’s the heart of God. It was probably the record I was supposed to do first. But, it didn’t happen that way. And I can really say that I’ve moved J outta the way, PDA [Paul “PDA” Allen] was able to move himself out of the way, and we just allowed God to quarterback and drive the whole thing.
JM: And every song, every chorus, every lyric, every stanza was just straight from the heart of God and I’m just glad I was able to nail it with His help.
EJ: Most definitely. Do you have a favorite track on this album?
JM: Man… so many at so many different times. Most of my life right now is dedicated to “Restored,” y’know? It’s portrayed through that song on many facets– financial has been restored, strength has been restored, personal issues at the crib and stuff, that’s restored.
And then, spiritually, when we fall off, God can restore you back to His good graces, so I think “Restored” says the most to me.
EJ: Quick question, outta curiousity: did you write “Anointing” for the Clark Sisters?
JM: No. No, actually I didn’t.
EJ: It sounds soooo much like them to me, especially at the end, when you close it out with “the anointing.” It sounds just like something Twinkie [Clark] would do.
JM: Oh, dude! It was definitely in TRIBUTE to Twinkie.
JM: I love Nat King Cole and I’ve always wanted to do a loungy, big band, big ballad kinda joint. And I said “I wanna kinda take a little bit of Twinkie’s vibe,” which is in me anyway because of the bloodline, “and mix it with a ‘We Must Praise’, Nat King Cole kinda thing and see what we come up with,” and there it was, you know? But it was not written for the girls, it was actually written for me.
EJ: I love it. Listen, I want to, respectfully, talk about what’s happened over the past year or so for you, because it seems to provide a strong basis for really understanding your album. And I think that if people get that, then the healing that is in this album is more apparent and potent.
EJ: By now, many people know that there was an extramarital affair that took place, and that a child was conceived from that. When I reported what was happening, I wanted to preempt the rumors and kinda stop people from condemnation. And I said, “guys, don’t knock him, just cover him and his family in prayer because that’s the best thing we can do right now.”
EJ: But one thing that I said at the time is that your music talked about, or kinda foreshadowed, these struggles and these temptations… like on “Livin’ 4” and “Florida,” your lyrics talked about how rough it is. Were those songs real for you?
JM: Not at the moment. They were just me being a great writer. A lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily where I was, it was just me being able to paint the picture. God has given me that gift.
JM: But when it actually happened, you get the Just James project. You can feel the heart. It’s not just a story going forth– it’s you. So, I think that when I went through that affliction, it beefed up everything.
I think the writings, at the time, were more prophetic than anything else. With “Livin’ 4,” I was just coming into the game. But after I went through it… And a lot of what I went through, EJ, was my OWN doing. This wasn’t peer pressure, it wasn’t industry pressure… it wasn’t groupies flocking around. This was just J Moss feelin’ himself.
JM: PERIOD. This was simply coming off of “We Must Praise,” being a big dawg, V2 over 100,000 [units]… this was just J being “the man.” Being told he was fine every day, being told he was sexy every single day, being told that people wanted him to be their baby’s daddy… you know? EVERY DAY. You think the R&B people have it hard? The gospel people do too.
EJ: I know it.
JM: So, I began to move further and further away from Christ, and got further and further involved with those temptations. And it led to that situation. And I have to tell you– when I get up now to talk about it, a lot of people say “J, you’re talking too much, we’ve moved on, we’re good.” And I say “nah, man. There are people out here DYING from this stuff.”
JM: The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, but I gotta get up and tell people that the wages of sin almost KILLED me, in terms of suicidal thoughts. I was plotting it out, thinking it out… all kinds of depression. I was going through the scrutiny in the media, the blogosphere, everywhere… that stuff was rough!
And when we sin, we chip away at salvation. Every time, we KILL something– we kill faith, we kill credibility, we kill relationships, we kill families… every time, we kill a piece of something.
I realized that people who are not going to Bible class, or to church on Sunday morning, will listen to me at a concert because they love me or they love my voice. So, NOW is my chance to say “you know what? Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you what’s really real. Let me stop making you feel good all the time, and let me tell you what’s real.”
JM: It’s been a great ride. I know that’s sort of a paradox, but it’s been a great ride. Very painful, but it’s been gratifying to know that my ministry has been propelled to a different level.
EJ: I hear that. Someone told me, recently, that conflict is just an opportunity, if we can embrace it as such. There’s something to learn from everything.
EJ: Lemme ask you– would you have talked about what you went through had it not been publicized? For you, we saw newspaper reports where a woman was coming forward, charges were being filed in courts… but there are other artists in gospel who are doing the same dirt. They just haven’t been exposed in that way.
EJ: Would you have embraced this reality? Would you have talked about it, had it not been publicized?
JM: Well, I’ma be real with you. I tell my wife every day, I say “babe, had it not made the paper, I would’ve never said a word.” You know?
EJ: Wow. That’s real.
JM: For one, I didn’t want to leave that lifestyle because it felt good. And, you know, people say “affair” and they think it was some long-term thing. This wasn’t that. It was something that I got caught up in. But I wasn’t afflicted until it became public.
So, I feel like it was GOOD that it came out like it did because had it not, I wouldn’t have been able to learn His statutes even better. I don’t think I would’ve stopped because I was enjoying what I had.
JM: But being broken from that– when God broke the chains and broke me from it, I see the importance of making sure I stay on top of it and remain verbal about it. And to say it over and over again.
EJ: Absolutely. How much of this album had you finished before all of this broke… I mean, the album is transparent and reflective, but what direction were you going in? How much of this album had you done before and what did it sound like?
JM: None really. With the exception of a few choruses or some unfinished stuff that we had, I think “God Happens” maybe, but other than that, nothing.
Everything about this project– it’s not dedicated to that situation, but it’s just a celebration of actually being down in the valley, down in the slums, and being able to somehow claw your way out of it and get back to being a person again, back to being a vessel again.
EJ: That’s powerful.
JM: Yeah. Because I gotta tell you– when I was down there, I felt like “why bother?” And that’s why I wanted to kill myself– it was like “ok, all is lost… all is over, I can’t recover from THIS.” And there’s so many people out there going through the same stuff. And that’s what God showed me in that affliction– He said “what you’re feeling right now is who I need you to speak to. I’m going to put you back on your platform, back on the market, to now tell people who won’t listen to anyone else.”
EJ: How are you maintaining this newfound perspective or this clarity? Do you have accountability partners in place? How do you prevent a “V2 mindset” from happening again?
JM: It’s effortless, man. Effortless. Once you go through a deliverance process like I did, the taste I had in my mouth for certain things is just simply gone… where I am, how I greet people now… I’m just very cautious about my anointing, who I hang with, who I walk with. Having to almost have LOST it all, it gives me that much more drive to do this right.
I’m a lover a righteousness and I’m trying to stay on this horse and do it right.
EJ: That’s great, man. One more question on this topic before we move on– we talked earlier about other artists going through similar stuff. It’s not just “the talented J Moss” who fell prey to something… it’s more common than that, where other artists are finding themselves in the same situations. RECENTLY. It’s just not in the newspapers yet. And maybe it won’t be.
But having gone through that, how would you now petition OTHER gospel artists to govern themselves? What is your word to the wise?
JM: Learn from me. I always say this– my brother, 3 years older than me, went through so much stuff that it actually shaped me into a better dude. I knew what not to do because I wanted to avoid those consequences.
So, hopefully, I can be that beacon for them. I’d tell people “you may be in something, it may feel good, but God sees and knows all. When He’s fed up, He’s gonna come and get you.”
JM: So my prayer is that you can use your big brother, your little brother, whoever might be reading… and use me as an example. You can even call my name if it helps you– “I don’t want to be another J Moss.” And you DON’T.
You don’t ever wanna go through what I had to go through with my wife… telling her and seeing her reaction. You don’t ever wanna have to go through what I read daily on the internet screens, y’know, after giving so much to people. You don’t ever want to have to go through people looking down their noses at you as much as I had to. And you don’t ever want to fall out of grace with God.
So, if you can, use your boy’s life as an example and get out. Walk away. It’s not worth it. You’re hurting way too many people and it’s not a good feeling. But thank God for victory.
EJ: Dude. Amen to that. Good stuff. Hey, you’re on Twitter now. You enjoying it?
JM: Yeah! I’m afraid of the internet– and I know that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear– but the human side of me is very leery and hesitant about the internet because of what I went through. I can’t even Google a movie without feeling like I might see my name pop up and see something negative. That’s how much I was scarred.
EJ: Aww, man.
JM: But on the other hand, it’s been good. I can honestly say that people have really shown love– people like you and other sites, pastors, well-wishers… everyone has just embraced me and said “we’re good.” It’s still a bit of a struggle, but it feels great to be back.
EJ: Well, we’re glad you’re back, man. Any tour plans in the works for this album?
JM: We’ve got a promotional run that’s on the website at InsideJMoss.com, we’re closing up the tour I did with CeCe [Winans] with McDonald’s— we’ve got one more date for that in DC, and that’s just been crazy, man.
JM: Every night– sharing my testimony with people. And GUYS… lemme tell you, EJ. It was prophesied to me that the trajectory of my ministry would now be at the hearts of MEN– strong men. And that’s who I’ve seen coming up to me after each show or writing in… saying that they’ve been delivered or that they feel better about where they are because of my situation.
So, I just thank God. I’m sitting on top of the world right now. And I don’t say that with arrogance… I’m saying it in a spiritual sense. God has me on something else and I absolutely love it.
EJ: That’s great. I’m so glad to hear that, man. What else? You did Gospel Dream a second time around on Gospel Music Channel… how was it for you, especially compared to last year with Melinda Watts?
JM: Well, I think that what the producers tried to add– with the boot camp, the on-screen sessions with the professionals, the TV portion– all of that was great. I think they really stepped up the show.
JM: Talent-wise, I think it’s just like [American] Idol or Sunday Best. You’re gonna have some years where the talent is through the roof, and you’ll have some years where you have to go with what you’ve got and maybe the talent is not as good as the previous year. I think everyone on the first year that I did it– they were just phenomenal.
And that’s not to slight any of the contestants from this year– they were all good in their own right. I think the winner this year was actually the real winner.
EJ: Yeah, I like him… Tony LeBron.
JM: But I enjoyed it– just to be apart of something like that. Especially in the midst of what I was going through at the time, for them to still back me and say “we’re still gonna use J… we heard he’s accountable and doing what he’s supposed to do, he’s gotten right with his church, his pastor still endorses him” (because I did what I was supposed to do by my church and the Church Of God In Christ). I just thank God that He sustained my TV contracts and my tour contracts, my record contracts… man, it couldn’t be any better.
EJ: That’s a beautiful thing. Man, I am honored that you took the time to speak with me. And thank you for your honesty and your candor. I really believe lives will be set free through your album and your ministry.
It really speaks to the scriptures that say that the steps of a good man are ordered by God, and that all things work together for good… I bet that if someone told you back in October that all of this would work systematically for God’s glory, you probably wouldn’t have believed it.
JM: Right! Yeah! *laughs*
EJ: But, I thank God that He’s all about glorifying Himself through all things.
JM: And you know, man, I’m just assignment driven. I wanna say to your readers– well, to you first of all– thank you. You have been more than helpful in supporting me and letting the public know “hey, we’ve got J’s back, we’ve got PAJAM’s back.” Words cannot express enough how much I appreciate that, man.
Plus, one of the things that helped smooth out the rough edges for me– I have GREAT people around me. I can’t say enough about the PAJAM crew who did not justify what I did, didn’t condone what I did… PDA and Walter [Kearney] are my big brothers, they’re older than me, so I had to take my beatings from them. But at the same time, they covered me.
JM: They kept my spirits up because they saw me fall into that state where I wanted to take myself out. People like that, and then my siblings… and my LOVELY wife who, I mean… the interview wouldn’t be appropriate if I didn’t mention that SHE is the one who, ultimately, helped me out of depression.
She is the one who came to me and said “hey, I’m gonna stay with you, honey, even if it’s against my own carnal better judgment… the Lord told me to stay with you because I see where your ministry is going to go. God has spoken to me.” She spoke with my pastor, we prayed together…
EJ: That’s encouraging to hear.
JM: We just have a wonderful, lovely marriage, man. My children love me… and I don’t talk about that much because I don’t want people to go and take that the wrong way, but I just thank those who are responsible for encouraging me and keeping me uplifted.
EJ: That’s real. God is a restoring God, for sure.
EJ: Well, definitely keep in touch, man.
JM: You got it. Thanks, man. Now can I get up on the TwitterRoll? Can I get up on the TwitterRoll, dawg?! *laughing*
EJ: *laughs* You’re on the TwitterRoll, no?! I’ma make sure you’re on it. And I’ll tell some folks to follow you today, cuz I know you just got on.
JM: Yeah, I just got on it.
JM: Ok, cool. Thanks man.
EJ: No doubt.
JM: I’ll holla at you.
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So how about that?! I’m tellin’ you– bump what you heard… good guy, for real. He’s not perfect, but he definitely ain’t claiming to be. And I think he’s in a good place. PRAY FOR HIM and his family, ok?
And uhhh… what did you guys think of the interview?