As a member of The Cross Movement, The Tonic has toured globally, earned two GRAMMY nominations, a Stellar Award nomination and two GMA Dove Award nominations; has been featured by media outlets as diverse as Time Magazine, CCM Magazine, The Source, Vibe Magazine and The Washington Post; and posted some of the highest street week scans in the history of Christian hip-hop. Prior to joining the group 16 years ago, The Tonic was an independent solo artist, and his new album, The Dash, marks a return to his roots. When asked about the difference in recording as a solo artist instead of as a group member, The Tonic explains, "In a group, it takes a great deal of energy to get everybody on the same page. As a solo artist, I can move quickly and follow ideas. I don't have to wait."
With music that runs the hip-hop gamut between rugged, street, gritty tracks and eclectic keyboard loops, The Dash tackles a wide range of rap music styles along with topics near and dear to the rapper's heart. "The Signature" comes from a phrase that The Tonic has been known to say during concerts. "'You know the signature' refers to the signature meaning, the thing that God weaves into the fabric of a person's being that points that person to Him," says The Tonic. "Sin Universal" depicts a conversation between two men about which sins they think are worse. "You Really Know Me" is based on Psalm 50 and shares the story of a guy from the streets who thinks he is a Christian but doesn't have a relationship with Jesus. The album's first single, "The Body," discusses the importance of being in community with other believers. The Tonic tackles these subjects with lyrical precision and catchy hooks that grab the listener's ears.
Beyond his role as a solo artist and founding member of The Cross Movement, The Tonic also serves as president of Cross Movement Records as well as a husband and father. It is a difficult balance that he never anticipated when he began his current journey. "If I had known how hard it would be, I probably wouldn't have done it this way," he says.
A sudden illness several years ago didn't make things any easier when the stress of this juggling act triggered severe anxiety attacks, a condition The Tonic initially thought was heart-related. Because of his declining health, he had to shelve his work on The Dash at the time and even told his distributors that the album would never come out. Over the last year as God began healing him from the condition, The Tonic decided that he needed to focus first on his family and the label's upcoming projects and put his own solo project on hold yet again. Once things settled at the label, The Tonic was able to turn his attention to his own project at last. He is excited about finally introducing his supporters to the project that has been years in the making, but the victory is bittersweet because of the time that was lost and the knowledge that it could happen again if he doesn't take precautions for his health.
"I find myself constantly on my knees," The Tonic says of dealing with all of his responsibilities in light of his recent struggle. "I have my quiet time and devotions and carefully prioritize the things in my life--from my wife and family to being a good friend to mentoring and discipling the younger artists at the label to ministry. I trust God for it all."
The Tonic hopes to reach a wide range of listeners with The Dash--from the younger generation to the older generation. "Sometimes the public draws boundaries around where they think an artist can take them," says The Tonic. "For example, some think that hip-hop is only for kids. This album speaks to both kids and their parents--to the church as a whole. I want to reach as many as the Lord would allow me to reach and to do so in an artistic, fresh way."
To further expand his ministry, The Tonic has launched Tonic TV, a streaming webcast that chronicled his experience at the 2008 GRAMMY Awards in its debut. The Tonic has been filming material for several years and is eager to share his thoughts and insights with fans. The webcasts can be seen on the Cross Movement Records website, www.crossmovementrecords.com.
The Tonic's The Dash will be available on Cross Movement Records and will be distributed in the CBA market by Provident-Integrity Distribution and by Sony Music Entertainment in the general market. For more information on The Tonic and The Dash, visit myspace.com/thetonicjohnwells and www.crossmovementrecords.com.