Christian Hip Hop Artist Turned Executive Reintroduces Himself with New Album
The energy hits differently when you can accept where you are and acknowledge where you’ve been.
West Philadelphia-born artist and songwriter, Emanuel Lee Lambert Jr., is setting the bar. Ten albums later, the self-proclaimed “middle child in Christian hip hop” is harnessing the power of his personal and creative evolution, trusting his faith, and propping up the next generation of artists.
Known to the Christian hip-hop community as Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Lambert is retiring his artist name after selling over a quarter million records worldwide over a two-decade career. He is reemerging in his 40s with wisdom, healing, and seasoning in his soul.
“The stigma that comes along with getting older is pervasive in our culture,” Lambert told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I’m embracing my age. I understand who I am, where I sit.”
After a three-year creative process, Lambert is setting the pace in 2023 with a celebratory declaration and fresh sounds. He is reintroducing himself with the release of his new soul-stirring, self-titled album, Emanuel, and as chief executive officer of his own entertainment company, NXT Agency.
Available everywhere on Jan. 27, Emanuel aims to not only build a bridge between the generations and cultures but to send all walks of life on a “sonic journey” through Lambert’s career. As a classroom-trained percussionist, he also brings passionate songwriting to life in this spiritually awakening hip hop album, boasting powerhouse collaborations with Fred Hammond, PJ Morton, Kim Burrell, Todd Dulaney, Aaron Cole, Dante Bowe, Tamela Mann, Maranda Curtis, Rich Tolbert, Yolanda Adams.
“This is probably one of my biggest albums in terms of profile, in the past 10 years maybe,” Lambert said.
Emanuel means “God is with us”
In retiring Da’ T.R.U.T.H., the award-winning lyricist is stepping into who he is today, marking it down in history in his powerful and self-affirming track “Set The Bar.” His decision brings him back to when mainstream artists such as Jay-Z and P. Diddy went “through this evolution of name changes.”
“Now, say 10, 15 years later, I totally get it. And I think what I understand, is that when you are in this industry for any significant amount of time, at some point you realize you are not the person that you started out as,” Lambert told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
He clarified that he’s not getting away from the truth, but he is releasing what feels like a “caricature” of himself and challenging listeners to look below the surface and understand the plot of his journey.
“Emmanuel is a person who understands that life is nuanced,” said Lambert. “And that there are more complexities than I’ve given credit for, more complications and more.”
With tracks like “Count On You,” “Tell Somebody,” “Free” and “Alright,” Lambert and his collaborators are deconstructing the peaks and valleys of life with affirmative, upbeat, and empowering melodies. From humble beginnings in the projects to nights in Atlanta, Lambert seems to find healing in the dark, when he can count on God.
“And so I feel like the evolution was necessary, just as I began to transition into a space where I understood life differently, and grew to be more in touch with my humanity,” Lambert continued.
Salute to how hip hop changed the world
The 50th anniversary of hip-hop is a pivotal moment for generations to pay tribute to when it all started and then pay it forward. For Lambert, hip hop “provided a voice for the marginalized” and “has the uncanny ability of bringing, accomplishing what the politicians and preachers have not been able to.”
“I feel the responsibility of standing in the middle, and building the bridge between the two worlds, building the bridge between the two generations, telling the older generation, ‘It’s okay, you got the green light to get older, and it’s all right,'” Lambert explained.
He continued, “Telling the younger generation, ‘Listen, we need your young legs,’ and telling the younger generation, ‘Listen, you need our grey hair.’ Now let’s lock arms and mobilize together so we can get something done. That’s what I say in all of this.'”
In doing so, Lambert nods to the pioneering Christian hip-hop ensemble The Cross Movement, who believed in his talents, invited him on tour, and continues to leave an indelible mark in the Christian hip-hop space.
“They were very intentional, about not just imparting, transmitting, but then also propping,” Lambert said.
Taking on the responsibility to elevate artists
Today, Lambert is resolving a problem in the music industry with his NXT Agency. He launched it in 2014 with the intention to create a system that provided artists the opportunity to make them great enough to move upward in the music industry.
“I started with a label and I was like, ‘Everybody leaves labels mad.'” Lambert recalled. “I would rather not sign artists at seven-album deals. I’d rather platform them, and then allow them the freedom to go somewhere else where they can really flourish. And then we benefit from it. Everybody wins in the end.”
NXT signs artists, like Nigerian-born artist Limoblaze, to two-album deals and propels them forward as far as they can.
He added: “They say your greatest frustration is probably the problem that you were placed here to solve. And so that’s probably why I started NXT.”