CHO'ZYN
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CHO'ZYN

Band Hip Hop Gospel

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By Kevin C. Johnson
POST-DISPATCH POP MUSIC CRITIC
Sunday, Feb. 26 2006

"Make some noise for Jesus!" DJ Wanna Bless U shouted to the packed house at
New Direction Christian Church on a recent Saturday night.

"Nobody can hold your praise back."

The mostly youthful, racially diverse crowd responded enthusiastically as
rappers such as Flame, Thi'sl, Json and Jeremiah each took turns at the
microphone. But the standard rap about women, weed and bling bling were nowhere
to be found in their rhymes. The raps this hand-waving crowd responded to spoke
of the Bible, blessings, serving the Lord, and spreading love and hope.

Clearly, this wasn't your routine rap show.

It was a part of St. Louis' growing movement known as "gospel rap." We're not
talking about Kanye West and "Jesus Walks," as great as that one-shot detour
was for him, or Kirk Franklin and his hip-hop aesthetic.

The St. Louis scene is giving a full-time, Christian platform to up-and-coming
artists on a mission: to use rap to spread God's word. You'll find them rapping
the word of God over crunk beats at local churches and other venues. Gospel
rapper Thi'sl, one of the scene's MVPs, says they've performed at juvenile
centers, boys and girls homes, in the middle of Northwest Plaza and even in the
streets.

"Right now, it's an underground force, but we're getting some recognition,"
says Thi'sl, who's performing March 17 at Victory Christian Outreach Church as
part of March Madness with Daphane Rice.

Like any burgeoning music scene, gospel rap has its own sound, rising stars,
including those at the New Direction concert, and national artists, such as
Cross Movement, B.B. Jay, Da T.R.U.T.H., Tru-Life, Ambassador and Grits.

There's a preferred terminology, as well. Some frown on the label "gospel
hip-hop" because of the negativity associated with the hip-hop lifestyle. They
prefer gospel rap or Christian rap, although others believe that God's word and
rap can't share the same space.

St. Louis even has its own pioneer in Tony Rice, a gospel rapper since 1989.
Rice defines gospel rap as rap that "promotes the gospel of Jesus Christ. The
artists have to have the life to back up what they're rapping about. If they
don't have the life of a Christian, they're not authorized to promote the
gospel of Jesus Christ."

Gospel rappers put the Christian part of what they do first. Rapping is
secondary and is used to evangelize.

"The scene here is definitely growing," says gospel rapper Flame, who, like
most gospel rappers, was a secular rapper until Christ came into his life.
That's when he started singing a very different tune.

"It's starting to catch on, and a lot of emerging artists are coming up," says
Flame, whose new CD "Rewind" is on the national gospel rap label Cross Movement.

Dawn Dia and Trubble of the female gospel rap duo Cho'Zyn, whose latest
maxisingle is "The Urgency," thought they were the only ones gospel rapping
when they got into the game four years ago. They quickly learned otherwise.

Dawn Dia says, "This is small to people who don't know about it, but tons of
people are doing it, not just rappers. It's dancers, producers, promoters,
street teams, people doing Web sites. We're always busy, and it's all for the
Lord. People are looking for this music. The youth at our church are like,
'Where's the new CD?' "

The excitement generated by gospel rap today wasn't there when Rice first
started in the late '80s. He shopped demos to record labels. He was told the
music was nice but there was no market for it. But he never stopped ministering
through rap. Rice joined with St. Louis DJ Dr. Jockenstein to get his "The
Right Rap" broadcast on Saturday nights on KXEN-AM (1010). Since then, he says,
gospel rap in St. Louis has grown.

Newcomer Json organized a recent concert at New Direction as a benefit for
June's Da B.L.I.N.G. (Believers Leading Individuals Near God). His story
includes a mother who was a drug addict and a father who died when Json was 3.
As a young teen, Json hustled drugs in the streets and robbed. He met the woman
who'd be his wife, and they hustled together until she found Christ. He
followed four years ago.

Json, who courted Rap-A-Lot Records during his secular days, had a gig with
rapper Lil' Flip at the Spotlight shortly after he was saved. After the show
fell through, he saw it as a sign and abandoned rap altogether. Then he started
meeting others such as Thi'sl, Flame and singer J.R., who is also signed to
Cross Movement. They fellowshipped first, an example of "disciple building"
that gospel rappers often speak of.

Gospel rapping followed.

"The main focus can't be on the music. Music can't disciple anybody. But the
music has to stay Christ-centered," says Json, who believes Christian rap such
as his CD "The Seasoning" is "an alternative to the music out there that's
polluted. - St. Louis Post Dispatch


Their set just minutes away, hip-hoppers Cho'zyn briskly make their way through the throng of 700 eager concertgoers. The striking duo is clad in pink and yellow tank tops, camouflage pants and battery-powered belts scrolling the message "Cho'zyn Chick." An entourage follows: their managers, who happen to be their husbands, followed by the back-up dancers.

The crowd at this north-city venue is almost entirely African-American. Guys in white-collared shirts are decked out in their Saturday-night best; the women are gussied up in oversize earrings and plenty of makeup. The Beat (100.3 FM) DJ Dwight Stone gets everyone psyched with two turn tables and a microphone, and the congregation bellows as Cho'zyn is introduced. In a flash, the girls -- all glitter, curves and sass -- mount the stage. Their first number is down-tempo, but the second one brings on the crunk beat, and they take turns spitting their message:

It's hot as Hell in Hell's kitchen

I hope you're listening closely,

Payin' attention when I mention the consequences

You gettin' from the sin you in

In true teeny-bopper fashion, the music is piped in and the mics are nearly silent, permitting the girls to save their breath for dancing. This is just fine with the crowd, who go wild for their aggressive-yet-sexy steps. A cornrow-coiffed male back-up dancer drops moves somewhere between b-boy style and the Robot. Ten minutes later the set's over, and the group exits to ecstatic screams.

Cho'zyn is just starting to hit its stride, with a rampant preteen fan base in St. Louis, and Tanisha Foxworth and Dawndia Crump, both in their mid-twenties, are the Cho'zyn ones. By day, Tanisha takes orders for prison care packages, while Dawndia cares for her two young children. By night, they tour all over the Midwest and South.

"They have the complete package to me as far as entertainers," gushes Warner Aldridge, another DJ for the Beat, awash in orange for tonight's show. "Their music and talents go far beyond words for me. They can sing and rap, and that shows a true artist right there."

By Ben Westhoff - Riverfront Times


Discography

Songs on Maxi Single "The Urgency"

1.The Urgency (Feat. Fox)
2. Hush
3. Everytime I
4. Go, Fight, Win
Bonus Tracks
5. Holy Ghost Party
6. What He Wants (Feat. J-Son)

Photos

Bio

Take two former Hip-Hop/R&B artists, convert them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you get the Holy Hip Hop/R&G duo Cho'zyn. Their music is thought provoking, their concerts are life changing, and they deliver a surge of excitement with every performance!

Cho'zyn, two Christian young ladies, are determined to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the streets. The two, Tanisha Renae Amado Foxworth and Dawndia Kashan Chunn-Crump became best friends at the ages of 15 and 16.

Dawndia began her career rapping at age 7. However, at 15, she discovered that God also gifted her with the ability to sing. She also majored in dance at Central Visual Performing Arts High.

Tanisha entered her music career as a rapper at the age 8. At 12 she ventured off to tour the city of St. Louis with the "Shades of Ebony" dance group. By age 16 she was known as one of the hottest female MC's in town, heard all across the airwaves of Saint Louis’ hottest FM station, Majic 108 (now known as 100.3 the beat). This is where God began his perfect work in this friendship which later spiraled into a Ministry.

The ladies started off as a secular group called the Lyrikal Lovely’z. They stormed all of New York’s hottest record labels, almost landing a deal with Motown/Universal. But, no matter how hard they tried or how close they got to acquiring a major record deal, the struggled remained continuous.

At age 19, Dawndia felt the Lord calling her to a closer relationship with Him. This required her to refocus her life, as well as removing herself from close relationships. One of those relationships included her best friend, Tanisha.

A year later, Tanisha called Dawndia and informed her that she too had begun to develop a closer relationship with the Lord! From that point, the two rebuilt their friendship by becoming best friends again. Now tighter than ever, they also rekindled their common bond in music and became the Holy Hip Hop group “Cho’zyn”.

Cho’zyn’s mission is to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the streets, using Hip Hop to communicate the gospel to people who embrace the Hip Hop culture. These ladies sing, dance, rhyme, and spit the Gospel at any opportunity. Their unique style exhibits a melodic blend of Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, & R&G.