GRAMMY® Award winner LaShawn Daniels can certainly be called a hit maker, but that would be an understatement. With credits that include “Say My Name” and “Lose My Breath” (Destiny’s Child), “The Boy Is Mine” (Brandy & Monica), “Telephone” (Lady Gaga & Beyonce) and “You Rock My World” (Michael Jackson), it is far more appropriate to call LaShawn Daniels something like a phenomenon.
Daniels can also be called a culture shifter. While he works with the world’s biggest pop and R&B artists, Daniels is a man of faith with a special calling to also impact the world through Gospel music. His approach is bold and imbues Gospel music with a mass market appeal. In fact, Daniels was one of the creative forces that shaped the urban-friendly sounds of Gospel artists Kierra Sheard (“You Don’t Know”) and Kirk Franklin (“Revolution”) and Joann Rosario (“Traces of You”).
Daniels’ latest project blends his urban pop music ear with his faith-filled center, and also showcases the decorated songwriter/producer as a sure-footed singer in his own right. The project is “Again Love”, the new single that was just released on his Work Music Group imprint.
“Again Love” is a buoyant, mid-tempo song and is the first single off his forthcoming EP The Big Shiz Project. The Latin music inspired track reminds us that “God’s love is there for us, period.”
“I feel like the enemy is waging war on people’s hearts and minds…he is at an all-time high of trying to make people feel insufficient, making people feel insignificant,” says Daniels when asked about the inspiration behind the song. “Even for those who may be doing well and may have a moral slip up, fall or mishap, it is astonishing to me that devil would want them trapped in their minds or trapped in their mistakes. It is refreshing to me to know that we serve a God of a second chance, and He is able to allow us, time and time again, to come to him to repent and feel His love over and over again…it doesn’t matter what the pitfall is, it doesn’t matter what you are going through in life, God is there to restore His love again and again and again. That was my heart…you can be restored and continue living with the love of God.”
This Gospel Life spoke with Daniels about his career, his upcoming project, his legacy and his love for God.
YOU WERE RECENTLY IN NEW YORK PROMOTING “AGAIN LOVE”, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO WHILE IN THE BIG APPLE?
Out of all the places we had to go, one thing that I like to do – and I love New York City so much – one thing that I like to do is look out the window! I like to look out the window and just watch the city in action. It is almost like plugging your smartphone into the charger…especially if I am on a high enough floor of any building to have a view of the city…I can spend hours watching the city. The city is in motion…you see the cars; you see the people…I may get focused on one person walking by and say a little prayer for them. I just watch as I believe God is orchestrating this city and keeping everything in line, even if it may seem a little chaotic. That’s therapeutic for me. Another thing I like to do – and everyone knows this – is EAT, so I definitely like to go to my spots…and I don’t need the fancy, five star spots, I want to go to White Castle! I didn’t have White Castle in California, we don’t have White Castle in Charlotte, so get me a White Castle, and that’s a good time! When I go home to Newark, New Jersey, I have to go to my spot: Sandwiches Unlimited – it is the home of the Italian Cheeseburger, OMG – it is delicious! So, I just like to watch and eat when I am in the city!
“AGAIN LOVE” is the first single off of your upcoming EP – what can we expect from THE BIG SHIZ Project?
Expect a good time. I love Gospel music, I love inspirational music, but there is a turn-up, there is a millennial turn happening right now, and it is absolutely live and real. To be relevant and relative to today’s time, I think you have to have the same sonic that the mainstream has right now…and that is what we do. My career is built on mainstream music, so I feel that I can authentically implement these sounds that can compete with today’s sound, but that has a better message. So, what you can expect from the The Big Shiz project is an absolute turn-up, something you can ride to. Something that you can listen to when you are going out, or when you are riding with the top down this summer, and not be convicted by all these crazy lyrics that are out here now.
What Gospel album do you have in heavy rotation right now?
Elevation Collective, by Elevation Worship
What song(s) do you have in heavy rotation?
There are two songs that are absolutely etched in my heart right now and they both are off of the Elevation Collective album. One is “Here as in Heaven,” and it is led by Tasha Cobbs Leonard. The other song is “Do It Again” featuring Travis Greene and Kierra Sheard. These two songs have been on heavy repeat for me since the project dropped.
I’m a well-rounded guy, though, so I have also been heavy on “The Boss” by James Brown featuring the J.B.s. It is on the Black Caesar Soundtrack…it is stuck on me so crazy right now! I have also been on Ice Cube binge lately. I go through so many extremes in music…and you can tie all of this together and also include “God’s Plan” by Drake. For the past month and a half I have been listening to these songs every day.
What is your songwriting process?
There are times when I am doing my devotions, and I feel like something will fall on my heart and I will pray for the Lord to lead me to the scripture that I need to address the matter – and I will start that way. There are other times when I go old school and I just say (singing) ‘when I think about the goodness of Jesus,’ and I just kind of pull from life experiences and pinpoint the things I want to thank Him for. I see some of the troubled times as well, some of the issues that are plaguing the Body of Christ, and some things that need to be addressed. That is how the Big Shiz Project started, it started with the need for a different sonic within our message, and with that I think I became attuned to a lot of millennial based situations that weren’t super deep, but real things that 10, 12 and 15 year olds are going through…I did Erica Campbell’s “I Luh God” and youth opened up because they had something they could relate to.
So, my process is that of what’s needed. It is asking God…and as I live, as I reflect, as I think, He reveals certain things to me.
What legacy do you want to leave in the Gospel music genre?
I want my legacy to be the bridge. The bridge in mainstream culture, our urban black culture, which I love and which leads the world right now, I would like to be one of the ones who really balances the playing field…I would like to be one of the ones who introduces the sonic and gives the DNA of a sonic that will be capable of changing the heart of the world. Our message is clear, there is not one person on the face of the earth that I believe does not want to feel good, and be good – from a very present translation to an eternal translation. So with that, I would like to build the bridge of good news, with a competing sonic, for the world.
“Again Love,” is available now on all digital outlets where music is sold and streamed.