There are times that I want to delete all of my social media accounts and go offline, and other times God abundantly blesses me through those channels. Today is one of those days because I got the opportunity to connect with “Moosh Da Street Preacher” and listen to his latest album “About My Father’s Business”. This vibrant 8 track, 30+ minute album has a lot of great flavors of styles all mixed together from hip-hop and R&B to Gospel / worship. I found myself nodding my head to “I’m Healed” and later having some personal worship time during “Lil Worship Break” and “Heaven”. It’s worth your time to check out his latest album, but first let me introduce you to Moosh Da Street Preacher.
For those reading this interview and meeting you for the first time, what’s your elevator speech about who Moosh Da Street Preacher is?
Well in a nutshell man, I would describe myself as the poster boy for the parable of the Prodigal Son. Lol.. I laugh because the Lord has had to drag me, kicking and screaming, all the way to the cross and to his perfect peace, and to an understanding of His purpose for my life.
I was born to two teenage parents, who were themselves, passionately seeking identity and meaning in this world. At the time of my arrival, they were heavily into the teachings of the Nation of Islam, hence my less than common first name, Mushran (Moosh for short). Things in their relationship turned sour though, and by the time I was 2, they were divorced and my dad was out of my life before I could form any lasting memories of him. I wouldn’t see him again until I was about 9 years old. The void that his absence created, I believe, was the impetus for the rebellious attitude that I would later develop. After my parents’ divorce, my mother and I would live with my grandparents off and on as she struggled to find stability and try to make a life for us. Fortunately, under the guidance of my grandparents, I started to learn about the love of God at Laurel Hill United Church of Christ in Suffolk, VA. My granddad was the head deacon at our church and my grandma was the head deaconess and church organist, so I got to see the Christian life lived out daily (whether I wanted to or not. Lol).
Life was pretty good for me and my mom with my grandparents as our backbone, but throughout my childhood years I always had a longing for something more, something beyond the protection, security and guidance that my family and church provided. I was fascinated by the music that I heard on the radio by the legends of our time, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Hall and Oates, the list goes on and on. By the time Hip Hop came of age, I came of age right along with it. It was at that point, as a young teenager, that I started to really feel the effects caused by the void of not having a dad around. It started to feel like hip hop, with its unapologetic, supremely cool, street commentary, understood me and the internal struggles I was facing as a fatherless, young black kid, more than the preacher and the church ever could. I always felt like I couldn’t be who I really was meant to be while under the watchful eye of the church. I felt like, to serve God completely, was to live a restricted and oppressed life. I loved God, (or so I thought), but I only wanted to give him a portion of my life. Giving my WHOLE life to Him was unthinkable! So.. fast forward to my twenties, and I am now a full-fledged, card carrying member of the world and its ways. If there was a party, I was there. If there was weed and alcohol, count me in. If there were willing women…well, you get the picture. All the while, I was becoming more focused on my dream to become a nationally recognized singer and producer. I started to diligently network and build many friendships in the music industry. Eventually, I would go on to work at one of the biggest recording studios in VA Beach, Unique Recordings Inc. I would also go on to manage several major recording artists with my good friend and business partner Maurice “First” Tonia, (ironically, we also executive produced many CHH hits including Trip Lee’s classic 116), but every time it seemed like I was in the perfect position to finally capitalize on all of my hard work, and reap all of the money, fame and glory…somehow the rug would always be pulled out from under me. I know now of course, that it was the hand of God saving me from myself, and certain destruction. So fast forward to 2020 and everything has come full circle. Through many trials and tribulations, God has taught me and is still teaching me His ways and what it means to truly love and be loved. What it means to deny oneself and to pick up your cross daily for His name’s sake and His glory. He’s shown me, as He does with all of His children, that His love, was all that I ever needed. Now my desire is to help lead others, who may have had similar experiences as myself, to the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.
Like any good journalist, I did a little research before this interview and learned about The Seven Cities of Virginia…or 7 Cities, VA (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and Suffolk). Admittedly, I haven’t been to Virginia yet (it’s one of the few states we have left to visit) so tell me more about growing up there and what it’s like now.
Yeah I’m from the Norfolk/Va Beach metropolitan area known collectively as Hampton Roads or formerly the Tidewater area. We natives, in the hip hop scene, gave it the moniker “The 757” or “7 Cities” back in the late 90’s in recognition of our area code and our unique interconnectedness. It’s an area comprising 7 individual cities (I’m from Suffolk), that operate more as one giant city. Each city has its own unique flavor that it adds to the region. Some of the cities are more rural, while others are bustling urban areas. Growing up here was very interesting. Virginia is located smack dab in the middle of the east coast, so our culture has always been a bit of a mix between the North and the South. You can say we had the best (and sometimes worst) of both worlds. Norfolk is also home to the world’s largest naval base, so the military presence in Hampton Roads is immense and very influential as well. Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and the Virginia Beach Oceanfront are all major tourist destinations as well, so there’s always an influx of interesting people to meet and vibe with in the 757. Our biggest claim to fame though, would probably be our legendary musical and sports heritage. Hampton Roads is the hometown of many world-renowned icons such as music greats Pharrell, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Danja and Teddy Riley (the legendary New York transplant known as the Godfather of the Virginia music scene) and legendary sports figures like Allen Iverson, Michael Vick, David Wright, Percy Harvin, Alonzo Mourning and Lawrence Taylor. So yeah, I’m very proud to be reppin’ VA. It has definitely played a major role in shaping me as a person. Our state motto is “Virginia is For Lovers”, and I would have to say that I’ve found that to be true.
What’s your musical background and has it always been an integral part of your life?
Music has always been a major part of my life. As I said earlier, my grandmother was the organist at my church so I vividly remember waking up many mornings to the sound of my grandmother singing, playing and rehearsing in our living room. Try to picture living with Mahalia Jackson or Aretha Franklin, and you might grasp what it was like living with my grandmother. Her voice could stir the soul in a way that expressed the undeniable majesty of the Lord. So yeah my grandmother was my first major influence, but I have to say that my greatest influence early on was my dad. Even though he wasn’t in my life in the beginning, I would always be fascinated by all of the stories my mom would tell me about him. You see, my dad was a highly accomplished musician. He was a trained drummer, keyboardist, vocalist and songwriter, who played in many bands in the area and even was called in to play backup for national artists when they were in town for concerts. It was this knowledge of my dad that would be the driving force behind my pursuit of a career in music. Although I didn’t know him, I wanted to be just like him. I would daydream about what he was like, and us one day singing and playing together. The day I finally met my dad at 9 years old, it was pretty awesome and he didn’t disappoint. I remember him singing and playing songs for me for hours, and I was in total awe. To see this man, who looked like me, singing and playing so effortlessly, warmed my heart and was fascinating. We instantly formed a bond that would last all the way up until he passed away in April of 2020. So yeah, music has always been integral in my life. There was never a time in my childhood when I wasn’t imitating Michael Jackson or Prince, studying the harmonies of Boyz II Men or Jodeci, or borrowing the swag of Big Daddy Kane, Wu Tang Clan or Jay-Z. From The Winans and Commissioned, to the Gap Band and Zapp, to say that I’ve always been in love with music, is definitely an understatement Lol.
Who would you say are some your musical influences and which current artists inspire you?
In no particular order, I’d say that my biggest popular musical influences were: Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley, and Jodeci. On the gospel side I’d say J-Moss, John P. Kee, Deitrick Haddon and The Clark Sisters to name a few. Today, I’m kind of at a place where I try to limit what I’m influenced by. My greatest desire is to be influenced by the Holy Spirit more than anybody else at this point, but yeah, there are artists and producers that make me go “hmmm.. I like that”. I know he’s a very polarizing figure, but I absolutely love what Kanye is doing right now with his God-inspired music and movement. I’ve always been a fan of his production, so I may be a little biased, but I definitely view him as a genius. I keep him in prayer often regarding his mental health, but yeah. There are some Trap/Trap Soul producers that I really like. I don’t know all of their names, but yeah.. and I’m a little late, but I’ve recently really gotten into the music and ministry of the artist Sevin. I think this brother is the real deal. His understanding of the Gospel really speaks to me. Another producer who I looked up to was the late great Big Shizz (the man behind “I Luh God”), who recently passed away tragically in a car accident. Just take a look at his discography and you’ll see how prolific he was. He seemed to be on the verge of doing some great things for the kingdom, but alas his time here was cut short. His spiritual journey and musical style were very relatable to me. But yeah, music is like food to me man, I’m always sampling something new to add to my diet so to speak.
Virginia is well known for turning out incredible artists like Timbaland, Pharrell, Missy Elliott, The Neptunes, Pusha T and more. Does that put more pressure on you as an artist or make it easier to get established in the music industry? Has it created opportunities for you to get connected with other artists, producers and engineers?
It definitely creates opportunities to connect with other artists, producers and engineers, because their successes sparked everyone around here to believe that they could be next, so there was constant networking going on in the area to try an put the pieces of the puzzle together. At the height of the VA music scene, everyone who did music was connected in some way. For instance, Teddy Riley and his Future Records, which was located in, Va Beach, had a slew of producers and engineers in and out of there all the time, some of which would go on to do their own thing. My particular circle of musicians and friends were some of those guys. I had the privilege of being around and learning from great producers like Davel “Bo” McKenzie, Sprague “Doogie” Williams and super producer Bink! The Humble Monster, all of whom descended from the Teddy Riley family tree, as did the Neptunes. So yeah, it’s like a tree with many, many branches as far as the connection with VA creatives. And yes, there’s a slight pressure you feel when you haven’t “made it” yet per se, but nothing major. At the end of the day, one thing I know is, Virginia musicians do it for the love. Money and success is great, but we REALLY love the music.
You have a couple of pseudonyms: Moosh Da Street Preacher and Moosh Millionz. How would you describe the difference between the two?
That’s interesting man. I appreciate that question. Well.. Moosh Millionz is a name that was affectionately given to me when I was a member of a production team at the Ruff Ryderz studio in VA Beach back in the early 2000’s. Two of my peers, Justice and Joe Stunna, had adopted the moniker “Millionz” at the end of their producer names as in “Jus Millionz” and “Joe Millionz”. So I was the new guy, so they were like “you can’t be a “Millionz” yet until your beats get better, so for right now, we’re gonna call you “Moosh Pennies”. Lol.. but eventually I received the honor of being called “Moosh Millionz”, and I’ve been Moosh Millionz ever since. On a more serious note though, in my life, Moosh Millionz came to symbolize everything that I thought I was or who I wanted to be in my own flesh. Moosh Millionz was fly, street smart, shrewd, promiscuous, and at times violent. These were all the masks I wore to stay away from who I truly was inside. This was the personality that I developed as a shield to keep people away from my heart and at arm’s length. Moosh Millionz is a character. It’s who people thought I was and who I thought I was. Long story short, God in his loving mercy, has revealed to me that my true identity could only be found in the one who created me. Only in the word of God can we know who God has called us to be and that we have a divine purpose, and what that purpose is. God revealed to me that my purpose is to take all of the knowledge and experience of my past, good and bad, and use it for his glory. To use my street vernacular to attract, reach and teach those who are still in the streets and to help them understand that God sees them and their troubles and that He loves them and wants them to put down their ways that don’t please Him, and then trust in Him to reveal who they really are and the plan of salvation that He has ordained for them before they were even born. God gave me this purpose and He told me that I would now be known as Moosh Da Street Preacher.
What’s your faith story? Did you come to know Jesus at an early age or later in life?
I gave my life to Christ and was baptized at the age of 7 in a tradition in my denomination called “joining the church”. Throughout my teenage years though, I would become greatly involved with alcohol and promiscuity. I would later have the born again experience and be filled with the Holy Ghost at the age of 22 after a general conversation about God at a friend’s apartment, and my life was instantly changed. My heart was on fire for God in a way I never knew was possible. Approximately a year and a half later, for a myriad of reasons, I would “backslide” and fall back into the world with a ferociousness and depravity that I had never experienced before. I truly believe that, at this point, I became an officer in the devil’s kingdom. I would continue in this state for about the next 8-9 years, but by the grace of God, He never took his hand off of me, and He restored me back to sonship. I know that the prayers of my mother, grandmother and the saints of God played a major role in me being kept from death all of those years.
Let’s talk about your latest album “About My Father’s Business.” I love that you gave a shout out to your dad on “Same Mind Sane Mind,” but at the same token your whole album points to and honors God the Father. What’s behind the title of your album…is it both a nod to your dad and to Jesus?
Indeed it is! Again, I really appreciate that question and your intuitiveness. When my dad came home in 1999 from one of his many stints in jail, (he had battled with drug addiction for many years), he had given his life over fully to Christ and the knowledge that “Jesus is the door”, which was one of his favorite sayings. My dad could debate anyone on the voracity of the scriptures based on his decades of studying the Bible as well as the Quaran and other ancient texts. Me and my big sister Erica used to have a running joke where we would screenshot our phones when Dad called and show each other how long he had kept us on the phone. It was a given that if he got you on the phone, he was gonna start breaking down society’s ills based on how God had moved in the lives of all of His people in scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. But yeah, my dad had been having major health issues for about the last 5 years or so. When God started to give me the sound and lyrics for this project, I was really hoping that I would be able to complete it before my dad transitioned to be with the Lord, but it was not to be. He passed away about a month before I finished my final mix. So there was no question in my mind that I would honor him by giving him that shout out. Also, the time of his death actually coincided with the culmination of what God had been doing with me in my own life spiritually. It was in the midst of pondering this that God revealed the title “About My Father’s Business” to me, which would at once be a tribute to my dad and his love for God and music, and a declaration of what I now understood to be my life’s purpose. To be always about my Father’s business.
What was your journey like writing, recording and producing “About My Father’s Business”?
Man it was pretty rough. In 2019 I was really facing many challenges in my personal, business and spiritual life so this album was truly birthed from a place of weakness. Every song was given to me as an answer to something I was going through in my actual life. The song “I Know” for instance, came about one night when I was feeling very stressed out and on the brink of a bout with depression. I was on my way to Walmart to pick up a few groceries at about 1 am, which was a part of my normal routine (I’ve always been a night owl), but when I got to Walmart, I was feeling so overwhelmed that I just sat in the car for like an hour trying to clear my head and looking to God for some answers. It was one of those moments where you feel like you just can’t take another step, and then, just like that, out of nowhere, God dropped in my spirit the words “I know, I know that things get tough, I know, I know that times are hard, I know you feel like giving up, I know, I know”. In the next 10-15 minutes He gave me the whole song, and the beauty of it all, is the peace of God that surrounded me and comforted me in the midst of what I was going through at that moment. Like I said in another song, “this is real life”. I’m not just talking about God to become a star or try to sell records. His love is THE actual prescription for all of our troubles! So yeah that’s an example of how the album came together. But yeah, recording is definitely my therapy and the studio is my oasis, so whenever I go in to to lay something down, I’m in my happy place. The fact that I produce and record my own stuff, allows me to take my ideas straight from God directly to the recording booth without the many distractions that can sometimes come from having to depend on outside engineers and producers and their input. Don’t get me wrong, co-producing is invaluable in many situations, but for this project, it had to be just me and the Lord.
Was it difficult to release an album this year? Had you hoped to tour a bit this year to promote the album.
Honestly I hadn’t thought about it man. The only thing I hoped to achieve with this project is to proclaim the gospel and hopefully bring someone to Christ, even if it’s just one person. This is my first gospel album, so I didn’t really know what to expect or if it would even be received on any level, based on how different my style and backstory is. But yeah, if It ends up being a blessing to enough people, I would definitely like to tour and have a larger platform in which to proclaim the gospel. But yeah in regards to 2020 and everything that’s going on, I’m definitely a believer that “all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose!”
I have my suspicion that you’re anointed and gifted musical prodigy from beats and bars to vocals. Okay, level with me. How much of “About My Father’s Business” is Moosh Da Street Preacher? Did you write, produce, record and engineer the album yourself? Who else was instrumental in developing your album?
This album was definitely an opportunity for me to showcase the many musical talents that the Lord has blessed me with. I wrote, performed, produced, mixed and mastered the whole project aside from some beautiful background vocals that my man Tyrell De’Sean came in and blessed me with on “I’m Healed”, “The Way”, and “I Know”. I was already done with the album when I let Tyrell take a listen. He loved it and started vibing out and vocalizing some new melodies that weren’t in there. I was like “bro! You gotta come lay those down immediately!” Lol so yeah he came in the next day and laid those parts and created one more part on “I Know” for my wife Ki’Mya Tamil to sing. So she came in and put her flavor on that, and that was a wrap. I also had two features on the album. I have a longtime friend named John Lee who is a phenomenal young preacher. The Holy Spirit told me specifically to get him to do a feature on “I’m Healed” and then on “Mandatory”, I sampled a portion of one of my favorite Youtube street preacher’s sermons. His name is David Lynn and he’s a REAL street preacher, I’m just borrowing the title as a double entendre Lol. But yeah, David Lynn is a phenomenal man of God who preaches the gospel raw and uncut. I would recommend him to anyone who feels like there’s a deeper level of commitment that they would like to go to in God. He’s the boldest preacher I’ve ever seen. It is because of his ministry and other Youtube ministries like TruthUnedited and Marcus Rogers ministries, that I was convicted of being a lukewarm Christian. These ministries had a big hand in me taking up my cross and actually taking a stand for Jesus in today’s increasingly Godless culture. Also the teachings that I’ve received over the past 3 years in my current church, United In Christ Church in Portsmouth, VA, where Rev. Pat Hilliard is the pastor, greatly influenced the creation of this project.
In one of your promotion videos, you said “If you’re tired of being sick and tired. If you’re tired of all the madness that’s going on today. If you’re looking for the way, the truth and life, then this album is for you.” From COVID-19 and racial inequality to politics and conspiracy theories, this has been one of the craziest years to live through How have you been able to navigate 2020, and what would you say to those who are struggling during these times?
I believe that all of these things are urgently pushing us to the realization that there is no security in this life outside of the love of God. That there is no lasting peace that can be attained in this world aside from the peace of God. That all of the things that we cherish and hold dear, can be ripped from us in the blink of an eye. This is not to frighten anyone, it is only the true nature of our reality. It is only in right relationship with the Creator of all things, that we have an assurance that these things too will pass, and in the event that they don’t, we know that Jesus will still be in control and still sitting on His throne, and we can find ultimate peace in that. We know that legislation can’t bring peace. We know that racial and gender equality have their place, but they can’t bring peace and won’t put a stop to the darkness that’s in the world. COVID-19 may come and go, but there will always be threats to our wellbeing in this world. So at the end of the day, I just want everybody to give God a chance if they haven’t already. Take it from someone who’s tried everything under the sun. I know that true love and peace can only be found in the One who was sent to save us from our sins. The Living Word, The sacrificial Lamb of God. His name is Jesus.
What’s next for you and your musical career? Are you planning on releasing “Be Angry (2 Chronicles 7:14 )” any time soon?
Man I don’t even know how you know about that! Lol you’re good. I’m actually really praying hard on that. That project will address many of the things that are going on right now in terms of race and politics, but I really have to make sure that I’m speaking God’s words and not my own when addressing these issues. Everything is so crucial right now and it seems like our collective psyche as a country is hanging in the balance. I believe much prayer and fasting is in order right now, but yes I am definitely waiting on God to let me know when I can release that. In the meanwhile, I’m still tweaking it and trying to make sure it’s where it needs to be musically.
Also, I plan to release a gospel R&B project called the Marriage/Single Series. The Marriage Series will cater to married couples in the body of Christ and it will highlight the challenges that married couples go through and it will also contain music that will hopefully inspire the type of intimacy that is lacking in many marriages.
The Single Series will highlight what it’s like to be single and Christian in today’s society, the many challenges that singles face, and the biblical encouragement they need to help them along their way. And of course I plan for the overall vibe of the music to be lit! I really don’t know if the church is ready for this new sound, because it will be raw and in your face, but I must say it the way that God gives it to me, I must be about my Father’s business.
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