Urban Christian artist Von Won‘s next album, All-American Felon, will be recorded for the mainstream Def Vibe rap label and distributed through Warner Bros./Asylum Records. This puts Von Won in a category with only a select few Christian hip hop artists whose music and ministry garnered enough interest from a secular company willing to invest in their work.
“I’m blessed to have this incredible opportunity and promise to continue to purse God’s will as we move forward,” Von said.
The official contract signing was held at Von Won’s 4th Fridayz Fellowship on February 26 with more than 300 people in attendance. Def Vibe’s president and CEO Money Mark was there to deliver and accept the final paperwork.
Def Vibe has been responsible for much of the national exposure and success of Houston’s rap scene since 2003. The entertainment company has coordinated events, marketing, and promotions for names like Twista, Scarface, and Lil Boosie, and recently secured BET 106 & Park airplay for Young Problems’ video to “Boi” featuring Gucci Mane and Mike Jones.
Although Money Marc and Von Won’s relationship tracks back to their high school days, Marc said it was Von’s work ethic and drive that made this potentially risky signing worth while.
“I only get into business with guys that are willing to give it all they have,” Marc said. “With Von, you know you’re always getting 1000%.”
“I was also impressed with his ability to bring people out to support him. That’s a big part of being a successful artist and Von has proven that he can mobilize the masses.”
With such a move, it’s almost a given that some Christian critics will question Def Vibe’s motives and wonder if Von will be pressured to change his content in order to secure additional airplay. However, Money Marc has an answer for them.
“This isn’t even about money â€“ especially since it’s so hard to make in today’s music industry,” Marc said. “I’ve had my eye on this movement for several years and researched it. Tre9 (CEO of Much Luvv Records and co-owner of DaSouth.com) is a friend of mine and I’ve always told him that when the time was right I wanted to use my contacts on the other end to bring some folks back. I just want to use my talents to glorify God.
“And we have no aspirations of changing who Von Won is or what he says or what he’s about. We certainly want him to do records that will work across the board, but he’s going to retain creative control.”
Von also has a response for those worried that with Def Vibe, he might water down his message and just be a “positive rapper.”
“I am definitely a holy hip hop artist! Given today’s music climate, somebody has to take a stand and that’s who I am,” Von Won said.
Def Vibe is even creating a gospel division and making Von Won an executive to scout additional talent for future releases.
As such, Von Won will be adding yet another title to his multi-hyphenated job description. He’s already CEO of his own Southern Xposure Entertainment label with several album releases, a solo artist, TV video show producer, husband, father of two (with one on the way) and recently accepted a full-time youth pastor position at Restoring Hope International church in south Houston. How will he manage being pulled in so many different directions?
“In the past, I’ve been the most successful when I’m the busiest,” Von said. “It was in those lazy, empty time spans when I found myself getting into trouble.”
That trouble includes a 2006 felony conviction for resisting arrest and evading with a vehicle when his car was stopped and drugs were found inside. It also led to multiple tazings from police and became the catalyst for Von to change his life and whole-heartedly pursue Christ.
However, all of that seems like a contradiction for this near Ivy League, Rice University graduate who was an All-American track star.
“I’ve been given both of those labels (All-American and felon) and they’re on two very different ends of the spectrum,” Von said. “I’ll be exploring some of that on my next album and hope that people know I’m more than a title. I want them to see me as a man of God.”
All-American Felon is scheduled to drop from Def Vibe/Warner Bros./Asylum Records on August 31, 2010.