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J Moss

PAJAM/GospoCentric/Zomba Gospel

CBN.comA fitting analogy for singer/songwriter/producer J Moss' eagerly anticipated new project, V2 (PAJAM/GospoCentric/Zomba Gospel), would be New Orleans' chef Emeril Lagasse's signature exclamation, - "BAM - Kick it up a notch!" It's a heated, high-tech explosion of shape-shifting contemporary Gospel that exhausts roads high and low to reach listeners of all ages - as only J Moss can reach them. As one third of the phenomenal PAJAM Productions team (who've made hits for a diverse set of artists that includes Patti LaBelle, Trinitee 5:7 and N'Sync) and with his own penetrating J Moss Project CD under his belt, J is a youthful, energetic and worthy Gospel messenger for today's generation.

V2 is packed with slam jams of praise such as the infectious hit-bound "Jump" and "Dance;" then moves to heartfelt declarations such as "Abundantly" and "Loving You;" then soothes with prayerfully reassuring odes like "I'm Not Perfect" and "Nobody.” He has even come up with a fresh spin on the Gospel standard "Operator!" And with the all-access pass that J and PAJAM have earned thanks to the string of highly influential projects they have produced in both Gospel and urban pop music, he has assembled an impressive guest list of talent that includes labelmate trio 21:03 and Kierra “Kiki” Sheard (on "Jump"); Byron Cage and Pastor Marvin Winans (on “We Love You”); “PDA” of PAJAM (on “Florida”); Kirk Franklin (on "Dance/777-9311"); and Anthony Hamilton (on “Let It Go”).

"I'm beefing up everything," J proclaims - "my vocal chops, my dancing chops and my ministry chops. I spend more quality time talking to God and more study time in the books so that everything I say is backed up in the word or testimony. Our mindset going into this recording was to be way more cutting-edge. From the lyrical content and music production to the overall tone of the record, I wanted the intensity to be double what my last album was and to show growth. When people sense an artist is growing, they feel they're growing along with them.

“When God gave me my last album, The J Moss Project, he was speaking to all of us through me in terms of my ministry at that time. That voice that spoke to me the first time has spoken again, so now we have V2 – volume two – and the messages, again, are what God needs me to tell people at this time."

J's steadfast faith is on particularly poignant display as he croons in sweet falsetto on the plaintive Latin-tinged "Know Him": ‘How can people live without Him / How can people pray and doubt him / How could you hate things about him / When you don't know him / He gave His only son to save us / Would you have done the same for haters / No, I don't need to beg but I will / Until I can get through to know Him.’

Beyond the songs that speak to the spiritual fortification of all, J also reveals more about himself this time. How he works through his fears by keeping God's word at the forefront was the inspiration behind the standout, "Afraid." "I wrote that song for the scare-dy cat in me," he chuckles. "When folks start talking about blowing up planes or nuclear war, I get uneasy. I mean, I'm on four or five planes a week! I've had my share of crazy thoughts, but I had to tell myself, 'Stop this! The Bible says that God has not given us the spirit of fear but the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.' I had to get myself together so I can portray that. So let's all stop being afraid and let's lean more on what our Bible classes have instilled in us to trust, which is faith in God."

J also sings to The Lord, apologizing for his own shortcomings on the bluesy and soulful "I'm Not Perfect,” where he cries out ‘I’m not perfect,but I’m trying.’ And he isn't shy about letting people know when they have overstepped their bounds in passing judgment on his life on the fiery bonus track "Everybody Ain't Got a Word." "I got tired of people saying God compelled them to tell me something about my life. It was happening way too much. I'd get a word on Wednesday from one person in Detroit then another one on Thursday from someone else in L.A. that completely cancelled Wednesday's out. God revealed to me, 'I'm not talking that much!' When God spoke in The Bible, it was very strategic. People have taken it way too far and it's hurting more than helping. I'm not here to question anybody's prophetic vision, but don't say anything to me unless you know for a fact you got it from The Lord. And know that I'm going to challenge it back through Heaven and get my own confirmation."

Easily the most controversial track on V2 is the searing and funky "Florida," the title not referring to ‘The Dirty South’ or a United State, but a state of mind. "I was having a recurring dream," J witnesses, "…a feel good kind of dream that I wondered why I kept having. I prayed on it and asked God, 'What are you trying to tell me?' After all that torture, He revealed to me that Florida was my flesh. Everybody has a vice - gambling, drinking, smoking, cheating, etc. God said, 'Your flesh will pick at you and tempt you. You have to resist the devil, but you can't do it alone. You have to do it through me.' My thoughts were, 'Lord, I know you gave me this and I'm being obedient to share this message as you wish. But this is not going to sit too well with a lot of people.' Not long after, God revealed that 'This thing you're writing is going to feel awkward. But don't worry about it, there will be an audience to hear it. They won't be willing to accept this from anybody else but you, J. Moss.'"

Born and raised in Detroit, where he still resides today, J. Moss hails from gospel music royalty as the nephew of Gospel’s legendary Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the cousin of her daughters - the inimitable Clark Sisters - and the son of Bill Moss, Sr., founder of the ‘70s Gospel act Bill Moss & The Celestials. Singing since the age of four, at his father’s prompting, J grew up in an environment where music was the focal point of life itself. After J spent time as a part-time Celestial, his father paired him with his brother, Bill Jr., in a group called The Moss Brothers, which continued for the next seven years, recording two major label albums. J’s parents and brother were all gifted keyboardists, so he naturally picked up the piano, eventually taking several years of formal lessons. His father also constantly encouraged him to pursue his songwriting skills. Having written much of the Moss Brothers’ material, he had become a skilled songwriter by the time he headed for college.

J attended Michigan State University for two years until his musical calling became his primary preoccupation in life. Enlisted by his college roommate to co-produce a musical variety show at the university, J realized in the process that he had a strong talent and interest in the music world “behind the scenes.” This led to thoughts of a career in production as well as performance. J did two solo projects on an independent Detroit-based label in the early ‘80s that were invaluable learning experiences in his development as a writer, artist and producer. They also marked his crucial introduction to Paul “PDA” Allen, and Walter Kearney, the other two thirds of PAJAM.

In 1996, J and his cousin Karen Clark-Sheard were both signed to Island/Def Jam Records. Karen’s album officially launched PAJAM Productions, which delivered four of its tracks. Clark-Sheard’s album rode the Gospel charts for the better part of the next two years, during which time J and his partners in PAJAM saw their own star as a production team begin a rapid ascent, contributing to projects by both major Gospel and mainstream artists. Through all the years of developing the PAJAM company, its own roster of stars - including the female vocal group Ramiyah and male trio 21:03 - and what they call “PAJAM Insurance” (guaranteed quality music), they never lost sight of their goal to one day launch J Moss properly as the visionary Gospel they knew him to be. Finally, in 2003, J and “PDA” wrote and recorded The J Moss Project in a four-week outburst of inspiration. Soon after, J was embraced by Gospel music pioneer Vicki Mack Lataillade and PAJAM entered into a joint venture with GospoCentric Records.

Reflecting back on the major step of his GospoCentric debut, J states, “The song that really stood out is ‘Livin' 4.’ People still write me or walk up to me and say, ‘Thanks for putting it to me on a level I can understand.’ People become truly transparent to me when they talk about how that song has touched their lives. I’ve had HIV positive people tell me my songs gave them strength to carry on for another 3 hours. That’s what makes it all worth it for me.”

In praise of his partners in PAJAM, J continues, "This thing between myself, Paul “PDA” Allen and Walter's a brotherhood. Keeping that in the forefront has kept us together for over 12 years now. In some crews, if you cross up somebody's money or somebody's spotlight, they'll cut you off! But The Bible says, ‘Family first.’ How can you go in the vineyards and do what you have to do if your house is a wreck? So we keep it like this: brothers first; business second. We've been commissioned to do this music.”

Now with his new album V2 promising to be TWICE as potent as its predecessor, J Moss is anxious to kick things up and into the stratosphere. “From lessons my mother taught me when I was a child to things I’ve gone through over the last three years, I have truly learned the meaning of patience,” J shares. “My faith assures me that God does things in his own time. The beauty of God taking you through things is there's always a lesson. It's not about the victory party or the symbolism of what you go through. It's the lesson. So I’ve been doing everything in my power – from going over every lyric of my music to watching my health and all that I eat – to make the whole being of J. Moss the absolute best possible presenter and carrier of The Gospel.”

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