Where MSP Began
When MSP first started, the group wasn’t known as Men Standing Positive. In fact, it was anything but positive.
As the brainchild of aspiring rapper, Mike “MiNiMe” Wuebbles, MSP began as a recording studio, aptly named MiNiMe Studio Productions. The MiNiMe tag started with neighborhood friends calling Mike a “mini” version of his older brother. They ran the streets together, hustling drugs and money, and getting deeper and deeper into their criminal ways. Even though Mike looked up to his brother, he didn’t like being seen as a “mini” version of him. Plus, others told Mike he wasn’t an imitation of his brother, but was unique in his own right…a “mini you,” they said. Mike took the label a step further, landing on MiNiMe. He still wasn’t thrilled with the nickname, but it stuck. At one point, an older friend, Kevin, told Mike to keep the MiNiMe tag if he ever made it big as a rapper, a deal Mike conceded to. Just one year later, Kevin was killed in a car accident. To honor Kevin’s memory—and to keep his word to him—Mike embraced the MiNiMe label and ran with it.
MiNiMe Studio Productions quickly gained notoriety in Belleville, Illinois, where it was located, East St. Louis, and across the river in St. Louis city. Mike, who was starting to make a name for himself in the rap game, took notice one day of Mase “Gold C” Nelson, a high school classmate whose rap skills stood out from the crowd. He was so impressed, Mike invited Gold C to his makeshift studio for a rap session. That first get together turned into ongoing sessions where Mike and Gold C would rap, mix tapes, and create beats with limited resources—a keyboard and a karaoke machine. Over time, the two invested in better equipment and invited three others—David “D1 Beatz” Ermatinger, club deejay DJ Blest, and East St. Louis rapper Geneo Smith—to join their team. The studio had developed a strong reputation by this time and Mike produced the group’s first album, Geneo Smith’s The Good and the Bad. As they gained traction, DJ Blest suggested that they name the studio MiNiMe Studio Productions…MSP for short.
MSP was officially underway.
Mike’s music career began to take off and before long, he had two multi-million dollar record deals at his fingertips. But, despite the chance for money and fame, he couldn’t deny the steady pull on his heart away from his loose and dangerous lifestyle. His stirring for something different began in his late teens with simple talks about Jesus with his grandmother. As years passed and Mike began to pursue a deeper relationship with God, he often found himself caught between two worlds—one that promised fast money, popularity, and access to all the selfish indulgences he wanted; the other based on a sincere commitment to Jesus Christ and selfless service to others.
With this internal conflict looming large in his life, Mike still began to share with the MSP crew about his newfound desire for Jesus. But every time he attempted to talk with them about it, they rejected him. As time passed, God directed him to separate himself from his friends and seek God to regain strength. He obeyed what God told him and stood alone for a while, eventually reuniting with the group a year and a half later. In the meantime, Mike turned down both record deals and made a definitive decision to live his life for Christ. He even had the privilege, by the grace of God, to ultimately lead each member of MSP into a relationship with Jesus.
Although the record deals fell through, Mike heeded the advice of one of the companies that said he needed to change the group’s name to avoid confusion with the “Mini-Me” character from the hit motion picture. Coming up with a new name wasn’t easy and took months of brainstorming. During that time, Mike reconnected with an old hometown friend—Jeremy “Menace to Society” Bernidini—and produced a couple of singles for him. In appreciation, Jeremy surprised Mike one day as he proudly displayed an MSP tattoo, complete with a dog chain, he had gotten inked on his chest. He didn’t know the group was planning to change its name. After seeing the permanent emblem on Jeremy, Mike felt obligated to come up with a name that would allow the MSP abbreviation to live on. Gold C eventually coined Men Standing Positive. At first, Mike wasn’t a fan of this version of MSP; he didn’t think everyone was “standing positive.” But, with time, the lifestyles of each group member began to line up with the new identity.
Currently, Mike—now known as Paztuh Mike—is the only remaining member from the original group, but they are all still close friends and continue to maintain their personal relationships with Jesus Christ.
Today, MSP is a nonprofit organization designed to meet the spiritual and physical needs of residents in urban communities. The group offers numerous evangelistic outreaches in St. Louis City and St. Louis Metro Illinois, including conferences, outdoor events, street ministries, and door-to-door visits. In addition to outreaches, MSP has programs in place to meet people’s practical, day-to-day needs. These programs include, but aren’t limited to: rehabilitation, counseling, spiritual development, job training, and support for domestic violence victims.
Area churches and businesses are encouraged to partner with MSP to increase its effectiveness in reaching and serving others. As MSP continues to grow its staff, volunteers, and partners, its goal is to have resources in place so that any individual—no matter where he or she is located—can immediately be placed in the MSP system and receive the help they need. The group plans to expand its mission of change across the country in years to come.