“Why don’t you try God?” From the surface, the five words that make up that question don’t really sound like too much, but considering the living God in all of His power and glory, the love that He expressed for the whole world, and the way that He wants to use us to be a blessing to each other, those five words link up to form an invitation with a meaning so profound, it’s nothing less than life-changing.
The question was extended to holy hip-hop artist Melvin Golden. Formerly a secular rapper known as Shadow, Melvin Golden is certainly a walking miracle; his life is the story of a soul at its lowest point, ready to take its bow and leave the stage before the performance is over. But Melvin tried God, the author and the finisher of his faith, and the “water” that Melvin has is “in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Thus, Melvin Golden and Kingdom Minded Productions present to us Food for the Soul, a 13-track disc with as much attitude as there are messages. Whether Melvin is praying for the Lord to “Unleash the Angels,” giving the listener his perspective about “Life’s Lessons,” or making you “Clap Yo Hands,” he’s feeding us bread from heaven. Man can’t live on natural bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God, and if you don’t know that, you’ll know it after listening to Food for the Soul. The chemic vocal collaborations-a trend in contemporary music that always fires things up-are in place as Juanetta Hayes, Terrell Ransom, and Shepp lend their skills to help the listener take on the kingdom mind. On Food for the Soul, the listener will appreciate Melvin’s consistent expression of God’s word and his personal testimonies to effectually and fervently minister, inspire, and proclaim what the Lord is saying.
I sat down with Melvin and talked with him in depth about his ministry, his struggles, and his future, and in the process, I was reminded once again that this is a small world…or at least a small city.
Conway: How did you get started in the rap game?
Melvin:A while back I started [as a DJ], and it went from [there] to somebody asking me to write a rap, but I wasn’t really a rap artist. So I couldn’t really flow, but as time progressed, I got started, but I wasn’t on the right path because I didn’t know God at that time. So I was going around doing performances. My stage name was Shadow then. I did songs with other people and saw how the business was managed. I got to a point in my life where I didn’t want to live anymore, and at that point, God called me to come in and do rap for Him because He knew I loved it.
Conway: So you were at a point where you didn’t want to live anymore. What were some of the things you went through that you can share with people through your ministry and through your music?
Melvin: I got to a point where I didn’t have anything. I got down to one outfit. I had to put it on, wash it, and put it back on. I lost my family. I’m married with two children, but the devil had a hold on some of the things in my life. He took everything: my clothing, my transportation, and I was just out there on the streets. I turned to drinking and smoking for a little bit, and I thought that was going to cure some things, but what it really did was keep me out in the clouds for a minute, but I came down and I was back in reality. So what happened was somebody [asked me], “Why don’t you try God?” I thought about it, and it was like a revelation for me because I never really put my entire heart into God, so I started seeking with all my heart, and going to Bible study and going to church. I started to be used; right now, I’m the sound technician at my church. A lot of things happened from there, and it just led to God opening up the door for music.
Conway: You used to be Shadow, and now you’re giving us food for the soul; it used to be about the carnal man, now it’s all about the Spirit. What is your own personal definition of “food for the soul;” what are you giving us exactly?
Melvin:Food for the Soul is my testimony. It’s what it took for me to give God all the glory and praise. It’s a lot of things that I went through that people can [understand] to let them know that this is the living word and you need this. It’s something you can use in your daily life, so reading and seeking and receiving was something that caused me to put together Food for the Soul. It was right.
Conway: You’re married with two kids. How much does your family inspire your ministry?
Melvin: My wife is one of the toughest critics that I have because she was in my corner praying for me when I was out runnin’ the streets. My kids didn’t know what I was dealing with, but they witnessed me being away and not being there. Now, my son comes down to the studio. He helps me sometimes. He’s learning the equipment, and he’s just ten years old. My wife is learning the equipment and she helps. If she hears a word or something, she might say, “That sounds too immature” or “You need to do something with that.” I know that God has put us together. She’s my helper.
Conway: That’s powerful. It’s a joint effort; it’s not just you, but you’re involving your family in your ministry, too. That’s really something. Now tell me what Kingdom Minded Productions is all about.
Melvin: Kingdom Minded Productions! I’ve been thinking about that for a while, but I wanted to be just an artist, but God led me to become a company. So the company Kingdom Minded is more than a phrase. It means something. I’m seeking God’s kingdom here while I’m on earth. My mindset is on God’s kingdom first and then from that is what I do. He’s given me a chance to live, so now that I have this chance to live, I’m doing what He wants me to do. It’s no longer me because if it was just me, I would’ve messed it up. So it’s Him. We’re a company that’s going to go out and let others give God all the glory as well. I just happened to be the first artist.
Conway: What do you want to see accomplished with Kingdom Minded Productions and Food for the Soul?
Melvin: The thing that I want most is that the kingdom message be preached and that all power and all glory is given to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He mentioned it in Matthew 28:18, that all power belongs to Him in heaven and on earth, so that’s really what I want to put out. The kingdom message has to be preached in order for Him to come back, so I’m just trying to let people know that if all things belong to Him, I have no control over anything, I just do what He wants me to do.
Conway: I noticed you have ties to Pastor Horace Ransom of New Covenant Church International, and his son Terrell is a featured vocalist on your CD. Before Pastor Ransom started his ministry, he was an elder at the church I belong to now, Greater Grace Temple in Taylor, and Terrell was one of the leaders in our youth ministry. Do you belong to New Covenant?
Conway: How much does Pastor Ransom influence your music and who you are as a minister?
Melvin: Actually, that’s where I get my “food.” First Lady Ransom, Terrell, and the whole Ransom family, they have been tremendous in the word that I get from them from God. Them being obedient has gotten me to where I should be. If it hadn’t been for me getting the word from Pastor Ransom and First Lady, I can’t say if I would’ve become the person that I’m supposed to be now. I also used to go to Greater Grace Temple in Taylor myself.
Melvin: Yeah, I went there six years prior to going to New Covenant. I was the one [of the ones] that was always in the back that would duck out as soon as church was over. My father went to school with Gary Harper, your pastor.
Conway: So we have some connections that I didn’t even know about.
Melvin: Yeah, I was always in the back and the first one to leave. I was the last one in and the first one out.
Conway: As far as future projects are concerned, how do you think you’re evolving as an artist?
Melvin: Right now, the Lord has me seeing different things, and by seeing these different things, He’s stepping me up. Now as far as my adrenaline, I’m putting in more effort on the newer material. My stage presence has just stepped up. A lot of people say it’s like I turned on a switch, but I know that it’s just God. His anointing has gotten me to boost right on up when the time comes. I have a couple of different projects coming out soon.
Conway: In ministry, you have to want higher heights and deeper depths, so here comes the million-dollar question. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Melvin: You know what? That question would probably be a hard question because if I had to see it, I wouldn’t see myself here. At this point, I look back, and I wouldn’t have seen myself alive after 21, but here I am.
Conway: But God…
Melvin: Right! But God! In five years, I can really say I’m going to let the Lord deal and put me in every place that He wants me to be in, and remain obedient, fasting and praying.
Special thanks to Brandon Ransom, Bruce Jackson from Channel 95.5 FM, and Melvin’s son, LaVondre for a great interview, and much love to Pastor Horace and First Lady Dorese Ransom, Terrell, Trina, Jason and New Covenant Church International.
Melvin Golden’s CD, “Food For The Soul” is available at God’s World in Detroit.