Minister addresses controversy around his latest R&B release 'Emjoi'
Switching genres in any creative space isn’t an easy task. Artists, writers, and musicians who do so seamlessly can often be met with resistance. There is always the expectations of fans to create better books, music, or art but often within the scope of the performers’ known area. Recently, Kanye West was met with criticism following his Sunday Service performance at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Critics said West’s project is blasphemous.
“We really have to unlearn what we have been trained to believe is ministry,” said New Orleans minister Ro Wright III who recently released an R&B single, “Emoji.” The song is mainstream, pop, and high-energy—not quite what people have come to expect for ministry music.
“Emoji is a fun song with a nice Afro-beat groove but if you listen to the words carefully, you’ll see it’s really just a song about communication. I believe the root of a great relationship is the ability of two people to let nothing hinder them from being able to talk to each other. More importantly, tell each other how they feel. Check up on each other and lift each other’s spirit,” Wright said.
The song was released mid-August on more than a dozen platforms including iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon, and Deezer. It is the first single for Wright’s upcoming full project release, “How To Love”.
The music was produced by Skirmisher Beat Squad. Wright wrote and arranged the song while producer Brandon Barre mastered and engineered it. In this interview, Roosevelt Wright III clarifies the message of his latest–and 11th–project.
‘Emoji’ doesn’t fit the praise and worship, Gospel music genre but sits smack in the R&B, love song mix. As a minister, why would you create an R&B love song and album without the mentioning of God or salvation?
WRIGHT: We’ve been taught that ministry is Worship music only. Worship Music is a resource for ministry, and a very vital ingredient, but it is not the only tool God can use. If ministry is truly about healing and building all of God’s people then that includes those who may not be members of a particular church and may not gravitate to the Worship arena. My God is not in a box and if God is really going to reach this generation then Chance the Rapper is just as important as Tye Tribbett. Kanye West is just as anointed as Kirk Franklin. If my marriage is going through a rough spot and I need to relight the fire in my relationship, why exclude God from that? R&B has the power to make people love and care about each other. Isn’t that what God asked us to do? R&B music can be just as anointed as Gospel when it is created with purpose.
How can you say this single, “Emoji,” and the “How to Love” project is God-led? What’s the message or messages you’re delivering?
WRIGHT: Well it’s definitely God-led because I’m not a Trey Songz or a Tank or even a Chris Brown. I do alright, but I’m an honest artist. (lol) These songs are definitely from the soul and written with a purpose. We love to point out the crime and poverty in our community but I personally believe these are residual issues from a greater problem: the dismantling of the family.
Divorce is at an all-time high. Single-parent homes have never been as high as they are now. (Read the interview).