What's In a Name?
By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
Throughout a career that's now spanned six studio CDs, John Reuben's always ascended the artistic ladder with incredibly contagious break beats, rhythms and rhymes, alongside envelope-pushing lyrics. Though grounded in faith, the singer/songwriter/rapper has an undeniably street savvy appeal. The same can be said of the brand new, provocatively titled Sex, Drugs and Self-Control (Gotee), which is arguably his most ambitious to date on all fronts.
It's all in a name
"When I first came up with the title, I wasn't trying to be controversial," he unveils. "There was no agenda other than thinking it was a good and fitting title for the album. However, I think that we tend to forget how controversial Jesus' message to Christians was and is. He wasn't scared to talk about the 'provocative' issues in life. A lot of the record is about being a believer and trying to find your identity in the music scene. I used 'sex, drugs and self-control' in one of the lines of my songs and I found it fitting for the album."
Of course, that theme about breaking through typical Christian comfort zones and simply lightening up from time to time is apparent throughout the album. Some of the most colorful, quirky and inevitably catchy tunes include "Radio Makes You Lonely," "Paranoid Schizophrenic Apocalyptic Whisper Kitten" and "So Sexy For All the Right Reasons." But what about the muse behind the personal moments in his message?
"That's a tough question to answer because it's really hard to break down where inspiration comes from," he confesses. "I'm guessing it would be everything going on
Unconventional release cycle
"You do your best to adapt, realizing that things are going to change," Reuben relates of the strategy. "I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit lost in the way people are now taking in music. I still prefer going to the store and buying a physical album with well-thought-out packaging. [In terms of the early digital singles], it was good to just get some new material out. We put a lot into the videos so hopefully they'll get out there for even more for people to see. The verdict's still out on whether or not it was a good idea to put it all out there before the record dropped."
Regardless of how Reuben's old-school personal tastes merged with this unconventional method of generating attention turn out in the long run, Sex, Drugs and Self-Control is poised to be the first faith-based blockbuster of 2010. And even if younger fans turn towards the internet to consume the tunes (either as a full package or in individual segments), it won't change this artist's ability to connect with crowds of various faith persuasions on a grand scale.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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