Interview: J. Moss Talks ‘Grown Folks Gospel’ and Possibility of a Christmas Album [Exclusive]

J. Moss is no stranger to making relatable, quality music. His fifth album, Grown Folks Gospel, is a testament to that in a shocking way he didn’t foresee.

“It speaks about life,” he said about his latest album. “Not just about struggles and hardships, headaches and heartaches, but just about who we are as a people.”

Moss survived a total-loss house fire without injury just weeks before his new album was slated to drop and said the incident allowed him to listen to Grown Folks Gospel differently, taking from it, another perspective on “submitting to God.” (see Q&A below)

“Each project, you learn a bit more,” he said. And while his gospel projects continue to thrive, Moss partly credits his experience on the R&B end of the industry for his work ethic and versatility that carried over to gospel.

We recently caught up with the singer/producer who’s in between operating the PAJAM production team’s new PAJAM Music Group gospel label with Paul “PDA” Allen and Walter “Stone” Kearney, celebrating the release of his new Grown Folks Gospel album (in stores November 25) and prepping for his “Holiday Praize Tour” featuring Isaac Carree, Jason Nelson and 21:03. Below, he talks about his growth, GFG and future ventures:

GG: What was the transition like going from working with R&B artists like Boyz II Men to working on your own gospel albums?
J. Moss: It’s fun working with them because they have a different way of approaching things. People think their music is simple and it doesn’t take all of that, but those guys really come to work to work. They spend countless hours in the studio and a lot of that work ethic rubbed off on me.

People always ask, how does PAJAM sound so different. That’s because of what we’re around. Back in our R&B days, we were always in the studio looking for a new sound, a new way to flip stuff to be the next big thing. Gospel has a lot of things that are stuck… What we try to do is break that hold and go somewhere different to get people to see that the arts is really bigger than one melody, bigger than one artist, bigger than one type of sound.

Let’s talk about the title of your new album, Grown Folks Gospel...
It’s real people going through real issues. It kind of evokes you to get into that private time with God and really just kind of love on Him and hear what he’s trying to say through song. What I love about the album is the versatility of it. Not only can it be used in a worship setting, but you can actually use it in a love setting with that special someone. Spending quiet, quality time with that person, this is the type of record you can just turn down low and let it do what it does. It sets the atmosphere. It’s very thought provoking. There’s a lot of thought provoking lyrics in there that talk about a real deep intimate love from my perspective for God, but you can easily relate it to that special someone.

You once said that your recent house fire made you kind of listen to Grown Folks Gospel differently. In what ways?
The house fire was definitely devastating. It took me to one of the lowest points I’ve been in in a very long time. But since I’m so mature spiritually, it didn’t hit me as hard as I thought it would. The Lord has wrapped his arms of protection around [my family], so we’re believers, and when mountains and rainstorms come up, we don’t flinch as much as we used to. We know that the God we serve is going to look out for us.

So I think a lot of that wisdom went into this record. The funny thing is, I wrote the record 8 – 10 months ago. Me and my crew didn’t realize the songs were going to be so relevant to me having a house fire later on, but that’s just how God works. He works from the back to the front. He always works from the solution to the problem. That’s the beauty of living saved, understanding that He’ll protect you from dangers seen and unseen. A lot of that maturity is oozing out of the Grown Folks album.

What’s something you learned about yourself, God, or the people around you since you released The J. Moss Project (2004)?
The whole crew’s grown. We’ve grown in our outlook, our strategies, our techniques, how we attack the music industry. It’s been a fun and exciting journey. Each project, you learn a bit more. Those sessions with Dru Hill, Destiny’s Child, with Kirk Franklin, those sessions all kind of help make me who I am today, and I hope I’ve had that same type of impact on them too.

In a position like yours where you’re leading people, some expect you to be in high spirits all the time. Have you ever felt that pressure of wanting to fall but having to stand strong anyway because of people’s expectations?
Yeah, it’s a part of the territory. A leader in ministry always has to have the face of God or the strength of God. If you’re not prepared to be the CEO of the company, and to be able to weather the good times and the bad times, then you shouldn’t have went after that position. It’s the same thing with us. We signed up to be ministers, we signed up to be the forerunners in this industry and to help people come into the knowledge. So at all cost, you have to wear that smile. You have to wear that joy. And yes, you get weak in those times when you have devastating house fires or you suffer loses. You cry, you’re weak, but those are the times you have to apply those principles you speak about.

I recently heard your “This Christmas” feature on The Clark Sisters’ 1990 holiday album. Would you ever consider doing a holiday album?
I definitely want to do one. I’m moving closer towards it now since we have our own label, PAJAM Music Group. We’re going to definitely be doing some holiday records and some different theme type of albums. We have the flexibility to do that now.

Click here to get Grown Folks Gospel!