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New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Hip Hop


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""The Ones to Watch in 2005""

New Orleans is a town where talented individuals are in abundance. It is the city that has given the world the gift of jazz and has pleased palettes all over the planet with its mouth-watering dishes. It is also a pedestrian paradise, where one can walk and view the city’s antiquated architectural splendor. It is a place where people come from far and near to witness and experience a town that is mysterious, magical and majestic. This city’s culture has served as a muse, inspiring artists to create throughout its storied history. Today is no different. While there is not enough room in this publication to write about all of the spectacular people who are contributing to the arts, here are a few to watch in 2005.

“Hip-Hop is commonly thought of as a genre known to be more secular than spiritual- more profane than profound, but the music of RED DOG dispels many of those myths. His sound is familiar and foreign at the same time. He has the musical savvy and has created a marriage of Hip-Hop and gospel that can rock through the speakers, but with the lyrical content of a preacher. Something that can be listened to by white T-shirt clad street corner crews, and people dressed up praying to God sitting in pews. RED DOG is armed with immense talent and lyrics guided by biblical wisdom. His music has the potential to create a new genre as he seems poised to become the breakthrough artist that ushers in an age where spiritually based hip-hop can find its place in the hip-hop universe.”

by Edwin Buggage
The Ones to Watch in 2005
April 9, 2005
Data News Weekly
- Data News Weekly

"N.O. rapper, RED DOG spreads the Good News"

While many of his peers rhyme about expensive cars, jewelry and scantily clad women, New Orleans rapper RED DOG (nee David Jackson) is on a decidedly different mission.

The talented wordsmith recently released a project that uses the word and wisdom of God to minister to those in need of direction and purpose.

Music has been a part of RED DOG’s life for a very long time. He began taking classical piano lessons at the age of four and continued until he was 15. He also played drums since the fourth grade, culminating in his stint as a drummer in the McDonogh 35 Senior High School marching band.

He has an older brother who studied jazz under Ellis Marsalis at NOCCA and is now a professional musician. “My whole family has been trained in classical music,” he said.

Playing in 35’s band took some adjusting for the talented teenager. “It was different,” he remembers. “It was different I had to learn a work with a lot of different people. When you play piano, it’s more of a solitary endeavor. When you play with a drum corps, you’re playing more with a unit. Learning to play with a unit was fun.”

After graduating from Nicholls State, Jackson took a gig as a reporter for The Houma Courier before becoming managing editor of Tri-Parish Times. Even though he worked as a journalist, he never relinquished his love for music. Among his eclectic musical influences are Rakim, Sting, Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Phil Collins.

When it came time to choose a moniker under which to record music, Jackson chose “RED DOG” after careful thought and reflection. “It means ‘Rejecting Every Doctrine Devoid Of God,’” he told the Louisiana Weekly. “To me, it’s a personal motto. As humans, we tend to identify ourselves with the differences rather than the similarities we have with others. The same thing holds true for the church environment. The majority of this nation is Christian but we tend to divide ourselves according to doctrines that really have nothing to do with God or the Bible. ‘We take communion on this day and that’s what separates us from these people’ or ‘We decided to wear hats in church and these people don’t. We dress up and they don’t dress up.’ These are all little things that divide the body of Christ, and those are the things that I want to get away from, so that we can begin to focus on the similarities instead of the differences in the Christian body.”

Three years ago, Jay3 – a group that consisted of RED DOG and several of his brothers – recorded a CD titled No Ordinary Man that was well-received and enabled the siblings to minister to people in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. While he describes that endeavor as a good experience, RED DOG says eventually he was ready to strike out on his own with a solo project.

The result is The Testament, his solo debut on New Orleans-based Brothers Grimm Productions that is already turning some heads in the Crescent City. Collaborators on the project include rapper Ghettochild, Adonis C. Expose’, Kenneth Hagans, RED DOG’s wife Rashida Jackson, Janine Jackson, 007, The Lighthouse Boys and Girls and Tyrone Jackson who produced most of the project.

Above all else, Jackson is most proud of his family which includes a wife and two sons. “I’m definitely proud of my family,” he said. “That supersedes everything music-wise and career-wise.”

RED DOG has also utilized his talents by recording jingles and promotional songs for Kentwood water. “I’ve done a lot of little things here and there but nothing on the scale of a major project,” he said.

On the song “Delgado,” RED DOG strikes a blow for everyone who has grown weary of hearing artists rap about jewelry, cars and mansions. Rather than preach about the ills of worshipping material things, the McDonogh 35 graduate advises a sister who wants the finest things in life to enroll at Delgado so that she can buy those high-priced items for herself.

“A lot of people have responded that song,” RED DOG told The Louisiana Weekly. “They appreciate the interplay in the song and they like the humor. I’ve been getting a very good response from that song. It’s funny because I have a lot of heavy topics on the CD but that song seems to get the most attention.”

While RED DOG pokes fun at the bling-bling mindset, he makes it clear that materialism is no laughing matter when it comes to the way it has negatively impacted communities of color. He says he is bothered by “the emphasis that poor people place on material items they possess instead of their knowledge and character. More often than not, that’s being reinforced in the music industry. Far too many people identify themselves by the things that they own instead of the kind of person that they are.”

The importance of self-knowledge and spirituality is a recurring theme on his solo debut The Testament. On “Your Gold Chains,” RED DOG says, “a man can steal your chain, but he can’t steal your mind.”

“If you’re on a desert island and you have a gold chain, what does a gold chain do for you? Absolutely nothing,” he explains.

Initially, RED DOG a member of the Worldwide Church of God, had a tough time garnering assistance from some of the same ministers and churches who have taken public stands against gangsta rap. “I appealed to that group about possibly supporting a CD release party so that the youth from their churches could come out and enjoy some positive or Christian music,” he recalls.

“They told me it had nothing to do with their mission of [addressing] disparity in New Orleans. I was very discouraged by their lack of support but decided to go door-to-door and got support from a lot of small churches who were very enthusiastic about the project.

“The thing is, it’s very easy to condemn something, but if you want to condemn something you have to support the positive.

“It’s really tough,” RED DOG when asked how he’s been received as a Christian rapper. “The Christian community has always been very supportive. On this particular CD I tried not to go to heavy because I wasn’t sure if people were ready for something that is ultra-religious. I wanted to reach out to kids on the borderline, kids that are not really in church and kids that are not heavy into the street mentality. I’m trying to reach out to the kids that are somewhere in between.”

“I think you have to reach out to someone’s immediate needs first before you can start preaching Jesus to them,” he continued. “If they’re starving and you start preaching Jesus, you’re not reaching their immediate needs first. Everything else will come along after that.”

One of the ways RED DOG ministers to young people is by simply putting the no-nonsense facts about life out there and letting them draw their own conclusions, a strategy that appears to be working.

“From where I’ve performed so far, the young people really get caught up in the music and its message,” he told the Louisiana Weekly. “They’ve been very receptive to what we’re doing.”

Recently, RED DOG performed at The Mix youth festival in Metairie and headed to Atlanta this past weekend for another gig. He was also preparing at press time for a performance at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, which he says has demonstrated a strong commitment to raising Christ-centered youth.

“I think Franklin Avenue Baptist Church is the pacesetter in the church community in their willingness to reach out to our youth. They have instituted a hip-hop service for their teenagers and young adults every third Sunday. This initiative is a bold and welcome step as we introduce this generation to the gospel.”

He will perform at the HANO sponsored Unity Fest at A.L. Davis Park August 26 – 27.

Between gigs RED DOG keeps busy and pays the bills with a job at the Housing Authority of New Orleans as a public information officer.

As someone who has witnessed the mayhem and carnage that takes place in New Orleans, RED DOG has some great advice for young black men trying to find their way.

“You need to really recognize the situation that you’re in,” he told The Louisiana Weekly. “If you’re in a race and you’re behind, the only way that you can win is to run faster; there is no other way. In the black community what we’re faced with is overwhelming poverty. The educational system has failed, the parental system, in many cases, has failed with so many young people raising young people and broken families. We have to not just realize the situation that we’re in; as black men we have to take a concerted initiative for change. We have to be faster, better, stronger and not just realizing information but applying that information in our lives.”

While RED DOG was disturbed by the death of college student Levon Jones in the French Quarter on New Year’s Eve, he understands it is symptomatic of a bigger problem.

“It’s just the culmination of what’s already in society,” he said. “What catches the news media’s attention is the fact that a black kid died by the hands of white bouncers. But what gets lost in the shuffle is an entire pattern of discrimination that leads up to that point.

“It wasn’t surprising given the conditions in which we live.”

Unlike many of his peers in music, RED DOG is more concerned about changing lives than going platinum.

“It’s not about selling two million CD’s,” he says. “It’s really about social change. If I can get one kid to listen to a song and to change their outlook or reform their character, everything is a success.”

by Edmund Lewis - The Louisiana Weekly


Transformation - 2010
The Testament - 2005
No Ordinary Man - 2002



Personal tragedy, deep introspection and intense faith are attributes that can either bury men, or create a masterpiece. The artist known as RED DOG channeled these pressures to create his latest expression of faith "Transformation." While his songs are atypical for rap music with themes of Christianity and social consciousness, his personal profile also matches the musical persona. His musical aspirations are only a facet of an artist who is on a quest for knowledge, a deeper connection with people and an inspired relationship with God.

RED DOG's 2010 release "Transformation" marks the artists' second full album. His 2005 release of "The Testament" was well received by fans and critics alike.

The music of his CD reflect his own roots grown in jazz, hip-hop and classical music. Although the music is diverse, some of his songs include snippets about politics, Hurricane Katrina, the Jefferson Parish Police Department, the "prosperity movement," and misogynistic rappers.

Although his lyrics are among the most thought provoking in the rap game, his uniqueness comes from the genre-bending themes of his music. RED DOG worked with producer Maestro T in the Fiyahplace Studios to create "Transformation." He has a stirring duet with Chinese rapper Aries in the song "Bring 'Em Out." Both trade verses — one in Mandarin and the other in English. In the song "Enemies at the Gates" he flows to a classical 6/8 time signature coupled with an operatic chorus.

"We did a lot of different music on this one," he said. "But you can never really escape that New Orleans sound."

Many of his tracks include the Second Line sound that has made his hometown famous.

RED DOG performed at the DOVE Holy Hip-Hop Awards in 2011 and opened for rap legend Bushwick Bill.

RED DOG currently resides back in New Orleans, LA after being relocated due to Hurricane Katrina. The rapper lost all of his possessions as eight-feet of water from the storm flooded his home and covered his vehicle. He lived in Houston, TX, endured a divorce and custody battle before starting over in New Orleans.

RED DOG began his musical career early, learning classical piano at the age of four. After receiving superior ratings in three consecutive years in piano competitions, He moved to the drums as a secondary instrument. His musical influences are Rakim, Sting, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Raul Midon and Phil Collins.