John Wells is a name that the Christian hip hop community should be familiar with. If not, then some homework needs to be done on this man. However, his more recognizable moniker is The Tonic of the Crossmovement of Crossmovement Records where he also serves as CEO.
My first hearing of The Tonic was the first verse from the song House of Representatives on the album by the same name. I knew he was not an average emcee when I heard him use sarcophagus in his rhymes. Later, I would get my hands on Crossmovement’s first release, Heaven’s Mentality (1997), and I was very intrigued by the wordplay and imagery of Shock! But it was his song, I AM, that forever locked his distinctive voice and rhyming abilities in my head.
What many don’t know is The Tonic has been rhyming for the glory of Jesus long before the inception of Crossmovement. But by the Lord’s design, he ran into other young men that were doing the same thing and decided to form Crossmovement in 1993. Over the next 16 years Crossmovement Records expanded its roster and influence by the gracious hand of God and became the most recognizable name in Christian Hip Hop.
Despite the success and fruitfulness of Crossmovement Records, all was not well with The Tonic. I remember the e-mail I received from him in 2005 detailing problems with his health which eventually caused him to miss several tour dates, etc. as he was resigned to bed rest. The daily demands of being a husband, father to be, CEO, artist, and minister seemed to take its toll on him. Later, he disclosed that he was suffering from severe cases of anxiety attacks. These attacks were also the key reason in the delay of his solo album, The Dash. The Dash would be put on hold indefinitely.
Four years later, by the grace of God, The Tonic is no longer suffering from anxiety attacks and The Dash is here!
The most significant days in our lives are our birth dates and our death dates. But what about that dash in the middle? That dash is the duration of our lives. What are we doing with our lives? What we do with our lives sets the stage for eternity.
If I had to liken The Tonic to a secular emcee, I would with Chuck D of Public Enemy. With verbal dexterity, The Tonic cleverly conveys the issues of the times with passion and urgency. Just imagine CNN having a correspondent from the hip hop culture. That’s how I hear him. However, he never just leaves the issues of our day in observation mode. He unashamedly provides the triumphant solution to the ills of humanity, putting man in his place and attesting of Jesus’ rightful place.
The Dash is classic Christ-centered Tonic delivery saturated with mostly east coast boom bap featuring labelmates, R-Swift, Mac the Doulos, Shachah and Iz-Real. Another pleasant surprise were the appearances of former Crossmovement members, Cruz Cordero and Enock. Ah, the body of Christ! The Dash is another gem from the Crossmovement camp!
“The Dash” by The Tonic
(L to R – Me, Teddy P and John Wells (The Tonic) in Philadelphia, PA)
Grace & Peace,