Grammy nominated, Urban gospel superstars 21:03 are back with their highly anticipated album ‘Outsiders.’
Boasting a delectable and delightful mix of inspirational, Urban gospel, and ‘ratchet and redeemed’ (as they’ve coined it), their newest offering lives up to its title by daring to straddle the line of contemporary R&B, pop, and EDM with uplifting gospel messages.
And, while the endeavor is by no means a new concept to the gospel realm, one spin of ‘Outsiders’ will ring as a reminder why the Stellar Award winning twosome leave most of the genre’s more noted acts in their rearview. Tuck in below as they dish exclusively on the new project and so much more:
TGJ: All roads lead to your new album ‘Outsiders’! Tell us about the sonic and thematic direction of this project.
Torrence: We wanted to share this album with everyone because we believe it’s something that everyone can identify with. We touch on topics we’ve gone through personally and are still going through.
Musically, we are “outsiders” because of our style. We don’t fit in too well in the [gospel] industry with our sound; it’s different. We want to show that even as Christians, it’s ok to stick out and be “in the world, but not of the world.” We want to charge everyone to love their uniqueness.
TGJ: In being an “outsider,” how would you say the sound of this album differs from those that precede it?
Evin: Our last album was a bit more tame. It still had fusions of contemporary gospel, but this album is more EDM, pop, top 40, and “ratchet and redeemed.” We wanted to embrace our youth and not conform as much as we did with our last album.
We look at this as our “coming of age album” because we know who we are now and who we are called to be.
TGJ: We’ve heard the banging tunes ‘Nobody Bigger,’ and it’s predecessors ‘A Friend’ and ‘Brand New Day.’ Tell us why you felt these songs were the best ways to kick off the album?
Torrence: Because they are who we are and we felt they really represent what 21:03 is about.
Evin: We’ve been blessed to have a multi-dimensional fan base. So, each song appeals to a different audience.
TGJ: Such a fitting title ‘Outsiders’ because you guys are very radio friendly/pop/R&B with your music. But, even in 2015, there are detractors. How do you respond to critics who still argue against that movement/sound?
Evin: I would say you have to give it a chance. People think that gospel is a “sound,” but really it’s a message. As long as it shares the good news, is inspiring and uplifting, then it’s inspirational and/or gospel music. It can come in many forms, shapes, sizes, and sounds.
At the end of the day, though, everything isn’t for everyone.
TGJ: Now, being honest, because your sound is so similar to what we hear on Urban radio, have you ever considered doing secular music?
Torrence: I grew up in church, so being trained as a child in the way that I should go has kept me from departing. That foundation is there and it’s a big part of me. I love how “the word” touches people.
Now, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do R&B [in the future], but for right now, I am where I want to be.
Evin: We’ve been approached to do R&B and pop records as recently as last year, but I love the authenticity of gospel. I feel like people, more now than ever, need to hear more messages of love, hope, and encouragement. Everyone has “their lane” and I feel like gospel is mine.
TGJ: Interesting. I want to expound a bit on that. If you could pick one gospel artist and one secular artist who you haven’t collaborated with yet, but would like to, who would they be? Why?
Evin: That’s easy! It would definitely be Brandy. The way Brandy felt about Whitney Houston is the way I feel about her. Also, I think Chris Brown is a genius at what he does. On the gospel tip, it would be Kirk Franklin. We’ve had the pleasure of performing with him, but we’ve yet to have a recorded session with him.
Torrence: It would probably be Usher because I grew up to him and love all of his music. As far as gospel, it would be Lecrae or Mary Mary.
TGJ: Nice choices! Now, to round this all out, let’s bring it back to your new album ‘Outsiders.’ If you had to pick one song that was your favorite from the project, what would it be and why?
Torrence: I would have to say ‘Done,’ with Joshua Rogers. It’s written by J. Moss and it’s very Urban. I love it because it talks about focusing your attention on God and being “done” with the distractions of life – whatever they may be.
Evin: My favorite would have to be ‘Nobody Bigger.’ It’s the first time I’ve ever rapped on a commercial song, but it goes hard. We all face giants – bullies and other problems – none of them are bigger than God. It’s a simple declaration, but it makes the point.
Interview by: Rashad (That Grape Juice US)