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Temple Yard - Emancipation 2002


01. Must Come Correct featuring Knowdaverbs

02. Chariots of Fire

03. Heaven

04. Pharisees

05. Gotta Serve Somebody featuring Akil

06. Fire Fall

07. Mandela's African Wisdom [Interlude]

08. Emancipation

09. Watching Over Me

10. Anyway



Eric Sundin - Vocals, Guitar

Bill Kasper - Guitar, Background Vocals

Johnny Guerrero - Saxophone, keyboards, Bass, Percussion, Background Vocals

Marky Rage - Keyboards, Background Vocals

Ken Yarnes - Drums, Percussion


Additional personnel

Kirk Whalum - Tenor Saxophone

Barry Green

Thomas Feurer

Joey Ko

Jeff bailey - Horns

Sean McClean - Drums)

Sal Salvador

Ken Landers (Programming)

Joe Freel, Damon Goude - Background Vocals


01. Must Come Correct featuring Knowdaverbs

02. Chariots of Fire

03. Heaven

04. Pharisees

05. Gotta Serve Somebody featuring Akil

06. Fire Fall

07. Mandela's African Wisdom [Interlude]

08. Emancipation

09. Watching Over Me

10. Anyway

Temple Yard is an intriguing Georgia-based band formed in 1998 by former members of Christafari. I don't know the reasons behind the split, but listening to Emancipation -- their second album -- you might guess that it was because the Temple Yard folks wanted to explore musically beyond reggae. And voila we have what the group affectionately refers to as "Caribeat" --

mixing "the best of the Caribbean with elements of other genres," according to the liner notes. The Caribbean flavor comes in the form of roots reggae ("Chariots of Fire," "Pharisees"), dancehall ("Must Come Correct"), and a kind of general up-tempo Latin-edged Caribbean style akin to soka, zouk, junkanoo, etc. ("Firefall," "Emancipation")

The "other genres" meanwhile range from Living Colour-esque hard rock ("Anyway," "Heaven") to Steve Arrington-like '80s funk ("Gotta Serve Somebody") to R&B ballads ("Watch Over Me"). When in their reggae mode, Temple Yard can be quite enjoyable -- from the fiery dancehall of "Must Come Correct" to the edgy digital roots of "Chariots of Fire" to the funky roots of "Pharisees" -- and even some of the non-reggae cuts, like "Heaven" and "Watching Over Me," prove catchy.

However, despite the group's admirable assertion that they strive to not make music just for the radio ("What is the point of making music that everyone digs except the artist" they ask.), the mix of styles is jarring and as cohesive as oil in water. Although this isn't necessarily what happened,

it feels like each member of the band got to write a couple of songs in their own disparate style. Granted, Temple Yard wants to remain true to its artistic vision, but it seems like they might end up with reggae fans liking 2 or 3 songs, rock fans liking 2 or 3 songs, R&B fans liking 2 or 3 songs, etc. and not caring for the rest. The songs themselves aren't bad ("Pharisees" in particular is quite good), but they ceased to keep my interest after the first 4...not coincidentally, when the reggae ceased.



Mike: There is a story of Bob Marley being baptised in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church just before he died.

Mark: A lot of people don't know this. It's public knowledge in Jamaica, but they try to keep it on the down low, and just hush it. Essentially, seven months before Bob Marley died, when he was chronically ill with cancer ravaging his body, he sought the spiritual counsel and comfort of Archbishop Yesehaq. I have video recordings of interviews with Bishop Yesehaq talking about the whole experience and how he, in a night full of tears and repentance, gave his life to Jesus - denounced Rastafari as Lord and denounced the lordship of Salassie. It was only by doing that that you could be buried and have a funeral in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church,

so that's one of the confirmations that we know that it took place. The interesting thing that followed, though, was that everyone said, "Oh, that's just a deathbed conversion, that doesn't count." But I believe it does; I believe it genuinely does. The problem is that ever since he did that, he didn't record any albums, he didn't have a public press conference, because he was so sick. So all that he left behind was a legacy of Rastafari; and his family can't sell records by saying that he didn't believe what he sang, so they keep promoting the gospel of Rastafari via Bob Marley because it sells. It's tough to see all his children following Rastafarianism when he sent them to Christian schools and he ultimately came to Christ.

Mike: Your album is called 'No Compromise', but there's a song on it called "Compromise".

Mark: This song basically says that none should slip away, and that's really my prayer. There are a lot of people who claim Christ, but to continue to walk in the light is a real challenge. Compromise is the grey that's between black and white. It's so easy to become diluted in this world; we're being bombarded with images, with sounds, with voices, telling us to buy this, to do this, telling us a white lie is okay. As a Christian, we cannot compromise. It's just a slight slant, and then it becomes a slippery slope; before you know it, you're at the bottom and you're like, "How did I get here? How did I get so far from God?" He never left you, you left him. But he's always one prayer away.

Mike: Would you describe Christafari as ministry focused or entertainment focused?

Mark: This is not about entertainment. It's about ministry, it's about seeing people come to know Jesus: that's the only reason why we do this. We got a bunch of awards this year, and they really don't count. They're good for toilet paper holders, but I can't take them to Heaven, they don't fit in the suitcase - I can't even take a suitcase up there. Jesus is never going to ask me how many albums did I sell, how many tickets did you sell? He doesn't care about that stuff. What matters is crowns that we can throw at his feet to give him the glory, and that's ultimately souls.

Mike: That's interesting, because you are widely misunderstood as a band.

Mark: Oh, completely, of course. First of all, take a look at us. I can't walk down the street without somebody asking me for weed or trying to sell it to me. I'm a sheep in wolf's clothing. I have become all things to all men so that, for the sake of the Gospel, I might win some. I love reggae music, and I love the culture of reggae, I just am not a Rasta, I don't smoke weed; you won't find me drinking a beer in a pub out here. I'm about serving Jesus Christ.

Mike: It's interesting that you're into reggae music, then, because you can't really get into reggae without having the Rasta thing.

Mark: That's how it used to be. I got into reggae music because of Bob Marley's "Easy Skankin'", "Excuse Me While I Light My Spliff", Peter Tosh's "Legalize it", Bob's 'got to have kaya now'. I used to make my own mixtapes of just weed songs.

But when I came to Christ I said, "There needs to be Christian reggae." That's one of the reasons why I started Christafari, and now there's probably over 600 gospel reggae artists worldwide; there's hundreds of albums available on So it's not just about Rastafari anymore. In fact, the largest-growing side of the gospel industry is reggae - and the largest-growing side of the reggae industry is gospel reggae.

Mike: Tell me about the song "No Surrender".

Mark: Again, no compromising. We're not going to bow. Keith Green did an album cover years ago - his album was called 'No Compromise' - and it had this emperor being carried down the streets by these minions. He's on this throne and every single person is bowing before him, the music is playing. They must bow. This one guy, in the middle of this crowd, just stands there -

like the man standing in the middle of a mosque - everyone else is bowing. He will not go prostrate because that is not his king, and he will not worship him. That image still is just etched in my skull. That is how life should be as a Christian: we should not go with the flow, we should go against the flow, when the flow goes against the word of God. So that's it. No surrender, we're getting stronger, we will not bow down.

Mike: Do you see new albums as being new chapters?

Mark: Yeah. It's a challenge. I've been doing this over 20 years; I don't even know how many albums I've done, but I know it's over 10. It gets to a point where I'm like, "How do you trump your last one?" We did 150 shows on our last album. It was such a blessing, such a huge thing - you can't trump it, you just have to do something different.

In this case, we're in a time in the industry when people aren't buying records anymore, so this is what we're going to do: we're going to pull a Radiohead, we're going to say, "Whatever you can afford." I want everybody to have this album, and if you can't afford anything, you've put zero in there, then you've got yourself the album for free. The world must hear the word of God; they don't have to hear it through me, but I believe that God has given me something that people need to hear.

Mike: Very Keith Green, actually. Not really a new idea.


Mark: That's where I got it from! I encourage you guys, find that book. It's called No Compromise and it's about his life. It was written part through his own writings, but mostly through his widow's writings, Melody Green's. But that's what he did, he was on Sparrow Records; we were on Word and Gotee, and we did that whole system, and he said, "You know what? Forget this. The next album I do I'm going to make available for whatever you can afford." And the Lord blessed him. I want to do the same.


Mike: "Whosoever": tell me about this song.


Mark: I think the title really just defines it. It's a theme that we find reoccurring throughout the New Testament. As much as people want to talk about election and selection and this and that, there is a constant message of "whosoever believes"; if you knock, he will answer; if you seek, you shall find.

I genuinely believe that, for those listeners out there right now, if you want to experience life - not just life but abundant life, not just abundant life but eternal life - taste and see that the Lord is good, taste and see that the Lord is great. Whosoever. It's not his will that any of you should perish, that any of you should pay for your sins, because he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for you. Will you receive him?


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