L. Michael Gipson - Cornfed’s Corner: Jazmine's New Single, Marcell Russell on Spittin’ Truth in Soul

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    On this week's Cornfed's Corner: we share an intimate moment with future icon, Marcell Russell of the band Marcell and The Truth; and offer our usual assortment of notes, gossip, and 12 "new" tunes worth your gas money. One worthy of those sacred coins is the Missy-produced debut single, "Need U Bad," for the much-buzzed Jazmine Sullivan (more on Jazzie next week!). So, grab a chip, a chair and get corn-fed.

    Intimate Moments on IM: Marcell Russell of Marcell and the Truth

    Marcell and the Truth (M&TT) is a Baltimore-based soul band whose 2007 critically acclaimed debut, Hopes Too High, went on to be a cult classic, one nominated for multiple SoulTracks Awards. M&TT's dedication to classic music has sparked some high hopes for their forthcoming sophomore project and the future sustainability of bands in soul. Having experienced them in concert, I think MTT is this generation's answer to Frankie Beverly and Maze, but with a more socio-political twist. Come eavesdrop for a spell on my intimate moment with M&TT frontman, Marcell Russell.

    Cornfed: Your brilliant first project, Hopes Too High, was very love and relationship oriented, but we hear your forthcoming project will sport more political and socially conscious soul. What made you go there?

    MR: Well, I was always there. It just seemed that my label at the time didn't feel I should be there so soon; but 50-70% of my music during any given writing spell is conscious messages. They are usually meditative and quiet times I have between me and God. Being in the ministry for many years and resigning from the traditional pulpit to hit clubs and lounges with my message was my initial goal. Love and relationship didn't become an important topic for me until after I was going through my divorce and trying to make sense of relationships, love, choices etc...

    Cornfed: As a music history buff I know you know that in the 60's and 70s socially conscious music was everywhere, but outside of Erykah, Donnie, and some conscious rap, we see very little message music in soul anymore. What do you think happened?

    MR: Wow, Umm I think it's a plethora of things. I think one of the biggest issues was that envy became accepted among minorities. The message went from "let's do what's right, even if others are not" to "let's forget doing what's right and just get ours." Let's forget the God we worship and let's worship their God. The average person will watch 14, 000 commercials this year telling them they are too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too dark, too light, too white, too black. The message has always been around, but now insecurity is being glorified as a good "Religion."

    Cornfed: With your willingness to now be more of the socially conscious artist you've always been inside, are you afraid of alienating those who just want you and your band to be the new Frankie Beverly and Maze?

    MR: No, because I feel we are considerate. Frankie Beverly, EWF, Smokey Robinson, James Brown were incredibly conscious, but they were also clever and considerate. They didn't force you to spend a lot of time digesting their messages. They work very hard to simplify their version of truth. Bill Withers was incredibly vulnerable. That's another thing I think will keep others from being intimidated, we are vulnerable. We're not trying to talk all about your mess. We are writing about our mess and the fact that we all are trying to make sense of this. I think people will enjoy us talking on a global level about specific struggles.

    Cornfed: At Washington, DC's Blues Alley, I heard you perform a new cut, "Symbols," off the forthcoming project and it just blew the audience away. Tell me about the song and what its message means to you.

    MR: Well, it came as a result as conversations with many different folk. I can't really take any credit for the thoughts maybe just writing them down. But "Symbols" is about the fact that most people are ok with substituting truth, wealth, honor, respect, family and love for the "symbol" of those things. The first verse says I don't care about marriage just the wedding day... So, hopefully, the lyrics will be self-explanatory enough that a video is an option and not a must, lol

    Cornfed: Having some artists you've trained abandon you for more overtly commercial success, a couple of former label and management debacles, and some unsavory regional promoters trying to prevent your rise, being an artist with standards and integrity hasn't always worked in your favor. How do you keep positive and stay focused on keeping your grind a righteous one?

    MR: Well, I keep great relationships around me for one. Folk that will remind me and do remind me that, "Hey, Marcell, your gift is from God. So is your success, money, etc. You belong to God; so first ask God what does he want you to do?" Now in laymen's terms, I just listen to what burns in my heart now. For 12 years I was a "traditional minister" and/or a salesman, and one day a friend said to me, "Make up your mind." He said if there is a door open in your heart, go through it, or shut it and move on." Ever since then, I vowed to God if he stays with me I will preach his gospel my way.

    Cornfed: Well, you've got us hungry to support that new more righteous soul music from M&TT, so how soon can we spend our gas money on the next album?

    MR: Lol. Back to the Motown era, huh? Eat or buy the record. Well, the goal is for it to be released at the end of 2008 or the very beginning of 09'. Hopefully, if you spend your gas money to buy the CD you'll feel fed with M&TT.

    Cornfed: Thanks, Marcell, for sharing an intimate moment on IM with Cornfed's Corner!

    MR: No, Mike, great work and continued success to you, man. Thanks for your grind and efforts on behalf of all those in the Soul game

    Cornfed: No problem, man. And don't you forget to hit us up with a teaser track when you can!

    *Next week's Cornfed's IM on IM is with indie soul's newest seducer, Rogiérs! Stay tuned.

    Cornfed Notes, Music and Other Good Grub:

    • Before we begin with this week's notes, I have an announcement to make. Mariah Carey's EMC=2 is the wackest album of 2008. No matter what else gets released this year, it's impossible for it to be worse. Im-possible. EMC=2 makes Glitter look Glam.
    • So, you want to be a producer? A new digital music format, MT9, will allow you to change the volume levels of individual instruments on your music tracks. Reportedly, MT9 will replace current MP3, AAC, and WAV formats as the standard starting in '09. Hey, more guitar, less strings on that mix dammit!
    • http://music.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2282352,00.html
    • Since Amy has come undone, Beyonce may be replacing Winehouse as the frontrunner for the coveted new James Bond theme song. And here we were thinking crackheads are forever, and ever, and ever, and EVER! Lol, I'm a mess. http://www.theboombox.com/2008/05/28/beyonce-amy-winehouse-faceoff-to-sing-bond-theme-song/
    • French ticklers Labelle have reunited, inked a deal, and are on lock down with rocker Lenny Kravitz. A little birdie also told me that Philly International's Gamble and Huff have left the retirement village to work with these golden girls. Rock on Soul Sistahs! http://allhiphop.com/stories/news/archive/2008/05/28/19961396.aspx
    • The critics are Sitting Bull to Usher's General Custer, in their reviews of Usher's very wobbly Here I Stand. Correct my history if I'm wrong, but, err, no one on Custer's side survived that bloodbath either, right? http://idolator.com/393322/usher-takes-a-bold-pro+nightclub-sex-stand

    Track Love: 12 "New" EPs, Singles and Album Cuts Worth Your Gas Money




    Available To Buy?


    Need U Bad

    Jazmine Sullivan




    Time Stops

    Marcell and the Truth

    Hopes Too High



    Your Perfume


    The Storyteller



    High and Dry

    Peter Kuzma

    (feat. Bilal)

    Exit Music: Radiohead Tribute





    Fa Sho


    Life & Music: All of It



    Green Light

    Jamie Lidell




    So Good

    LJ Reynolds

    The Message


    Contemporary Gospel


    More Than You Know

    Angela Johnson feat. Maysa

    Angela Johnson Presents: A Woman's Touch



    All Dressed In Love

    Jennifer Hudson

    Sex and the City: Motion Picture Soundtrack



    Be Faithful


    The Truth About Love



    You've Got The Love I Need

    Al Green feat.

    Anthony Hamilton

    Lay It Down



    Save Your Breath

    Lisa Lavie

    Everything or Nothing
























    Catch a taste of Jazmine Sullivan's debut single on You Tube:


    L. Michael Gipson is a cultural critic, music journalist and a lover of all underdogs; poverty becomes him.


    See past "Cornfed Corners"

    Alice Russell and opening thoughts

    Lemar, Tim Dillinger and more