T.P. Mob sheds traditional gospel

Attempting to attract a younger audience to gospel music, members of the T.P. (Total Praise) Mob, including Chris Cuffy, deliver their hip hop/R & B-inspired music in urban gear. The group is made up of approximately 40 young Southern California Christians. / photo by Brian Murphy
Attempting to attract a younger audience to gospel music, members of the T.P. (Total Praise) Mob, including Chris Cuffy, deliver their hip hop/R & B-inspired music in urban gear. The group is made up of approximately 40 young Southern California Christians. / photo by Brian Murphy

by Amy Borer
Editorial Director

Originally-composed gospel music with a hip hop flair was on the agenda last Saturday night as Brent Jones and the T.P. (Total Praise) Mob electrified the La Verne community with a free concert in Founders Hall Auditorium.

The group, formed two and a half years ago by Jones, is made up of approximately 40 young Christians from Southern California who want to spread a positive message of the Lord to the streets.

“I want people to realize that gospel music is here to stay,” said Jones. “It is powerful music, it is fun music, it is spiritual music. It is the kind of music that reminds you that this world is just this world. It’s mean, it’s hateful and the only thing that keeps us here with a good attitude is the spirit of God. We want to let young people, specifically, know that you can be hip, you can be funky, you can be trendy. You can be all those things and be positive.”

The T.P. Mob has abandoned traditional gospel choir robes for urban gear and excites audiences with the boundless energy it exhibits on stage.

“They are electrifying,” said Lilia Lopez, operations manager for the Music Department.

The T.P. Mob has been successful in spreading its message to the streets and beyond. Recently, its song “Spirit Control Me” was featured on the “Motown Comes Home” project, which also includes such notable acts as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Boyz II Men, Shanice, Howard Hewitt, Johnny Gill and the Temptations.

The Mob has also been a featured artist at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles and has appeared on the Black Entertainment Television cable network.

The Music Department was referred to the sounds of the T.P. Mob by a department alumnus.

The department selected the gospel group for the concert mainly for the cultural and educational experience it would bring to the campus.

“This [the T.P. Mob] would be an example of what is going on in our cultural, musical and artistic centers,” said Bruce Hirsch, associate professor of music. “This is current. This is contemporary gospel, not traditional gospel.”

The total cost of bringing the group to campus was $2,000, half of which was contributed by the Associated Student Federation Forum.

Although the turnout for the event was not high, all in attendance thought the concert was a wonderful experience.

“It really does my soul good to see young people on a stage making a focused, concentrated effort and thoroughly enjoying it,” said Hirsch. “It just creates a sparkle in my life.”

Members of the T.P. Mob also enjoyed the performance.

“I was a little apprehensive because I realized that this is a college campus and some people would just come because it was something to do,” said Jones. “T.P. is used to thousands of people singing with them. But I thought it was a wonderful crowd. I thought it was very responsive and I loved it.”

“It was a blessing. Any time we get to praise the Lord it is a blessing, whether there is 10 people or 100 people or 10,000 people, it doesn’t matter because we just love the Lord,” said Sherri Bryant, a member of the choir.

Technically, the show was also a godsend for the artists.

“The sound system was excellent and it is not often that we get that,” said choir member Scheli Jones. “It helps us a lot when we are singing up there and we can hear ourselves. I thought the crowd was real responsive. That was a blessing for us too, it makes us enjoy it even more.”

Future plans for the T.P. Mob include a tour up and down the West Coast and a trip to Texas during May. It has also recently signed to Motown and will devote a large amount of time to studio work after it returns from the tour.

For those who missed it, or those who want to relive the experience, the concert will air each Wednesday in May at 8 p.m. on LVTV, channel 3.

Amy Borer, Features Editor
Amy Borer
Brian Murphy

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