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Stay in tune with J.Walker

(The J.Walker Corner)

Early Life

Some of my earliest memories involve rushing from primary school to church with my mum in the evenings after school. My greatest contribution to the faith at this point was helping to put out the chairs in rows of 12. We’d be in church at least four days a week and when I wasn’t to tired to keep my eyes open any longer I learned many lessons and felt God’s presence.

I feel like I’ve grown up always knowing and having a relationship with God. Not having my father around in these early years meant that there was more room for God and I could hear his voice clearly and uninterrupted. I feel the absence of positivity in my childhood is one of the reasons why God adopted me the way he did and continues to watch over me so closely to this day.

Growing up I went through many different fazes on my winding journey through childhood and teenage years. I never felt forsaken by God however and even on my darkest nights I knew He and His Angels were never too far away. College would however be a turning point as I was baptized and started dealing with meat rather than milk. I became more aware of my responsibilities as Christian and God’s expectations and his plan for me.

Early Career

It was also at this point that I became aware of Gospel rap. I had been working on music for about 3 years at this point and was rapping as well as producing and mixing. I was making secular music, but largely with a conscious message. As I became older and had more adult experiences there was however a shift in the content. The music reflected the harsh realities I was dealing with and I used the music as a bottle to capture my negative feelings and share them with the world.

Some of my Christian brothers pleaded with me to turn away from secular music and throw away my secular CD’s but I justified my actions as truth, also I didn’t feel called to gospel rap and I definitely didn’t want the responsibility. As I moved on my Christian walk through life I was however noticing that God and Christianity kept appearing in my music, it even started becoming the whole song and I realized that some of the songs I was making could be quantified as gospel rap.

Getting Signed

I started seeking out other artists and signed to the gospel label “Rock Steady Movement” as an artist and producer. I learned a lot during my time there but struggled to adapt to the label’s way of doing things. Finding the right gospel label can be a lot like finding the right church, if you’re not growing there you need to move on. I had however learned a lot from my time there, which was about 6 months and we both went our separate ways without any hard feelings.

I had still been making secular music while on the gospel label and it felt like I had an outlet for all my thoughts, perfect and imperfect. I now had half of what felt like an amazing Hip Hop album complete. I was talking to designers about the album cover and thinking about the running order and what they album was missing to complete it.

I was attending Hillsong church at this point and noticed there was an extra large queue outside because of a guest preacher named Rich Wilkerson Jr. The words he spoke would change my life and answer all the questions I had posed to God. He told the story of Jonah and the Whale from a perspective I had never heard before. Key to his message was that you should have no worries if you’re where God wants you to be and are doing what God wants you to do. The first time Jonah was where God wanted him to be was when he was in the belly of the whale. I’d said all along if God called me to Gospel I’d answer and I was called that day.

Creating (The Lion’s Den) (2012)

As a result in 2012 I established the gospel record label (The Lion’s Den). At this point I had been rapping and producing for quite a few years. I no longer relied on others to be able to create music and I felt that I could create more material than I could use.  I wanted to explore how I could stretch and twist gospel music moving it forward. Through the relationships I had I was able to sign a number of artists to the label and produce their records.  

The Baptism (2013)

The culmination of this was the 2013 album “The Baptism”. It was a compilation album featuring tracks from the artists on the label.

Rather than releasing traditional music videos to accompany the album we created a 2 part short film entitled “Sunday to Sunday”. The films featured music from the album.

I’m A Christian (2014)

Throughout 2014 I worked on my debut gospel album entitled “I’m A Christian.” The album was created to encapsulate the different dimensions of the modern day Christian and present a Christian to the world who is capable of error and is human. The issue of identity is also prevalent as the identity of being a Christian is pushed to the forefront.

The album explores the Hip-Hop genre musically with a gospel message running throughout. Church organs and piano keys incorporate the gospel sound and are combined with Hip Hop drums and basslines to create a unique sound. The album features members of (The Lion’s Den) which add to the gospel sound with more typical church style choruses. Three videos were filmed to accompany the tracks “I’m A Christian, Whispers” and “Angel Of My Own”.

Positive (2015)

In 2015 I began working on the mixtape ‘Positive’ as I wanted to be able to give something away for free. In the months before recording this album I had married and had a son. I felt the need to move on from the negatives and find the positives, even in dark situations. I set about creating an energetic album that was able to address issues such as relationship breakdowns, family problems and abortion but still leave listeners feeling they could overcome all the issues they face.

The album implements a Trap feel with fast hitting hi-hats and snare supplying endless energy. The mixtape is designed to be familiar to secular listeners by delivering a sound that Hip-Hop, RnB and Pop fans are used to, but keeps a strong gospel rap message throughout. The mixtape was distributed through Coast to Coast mixtapes and received positive reviews on Pr Web and Broadway World.

Three videos have currently been released alongside the album. ‘Ned Flanders’ features a rap from the perspective of Simpsons character Ned Flanders and mocks the nerdy weak depiction of Christians in the world today. Midway through 2016 a video for the mixtape’s title track ‘Positive’ was also released. The track stresses the importance of thinking and acting in a positive way and challenges thoughts of abortion. A video for J.O.E an acronym meaning Jesus Over Everything has also been released.

(The Lion’s Denim) (2016)

After the completion of the Mixtape I officially launched a Christian clothing line called (The Lion’s Denim) which designs and manufactures T-Shirts. A partnership was later established with Christian clothing company JC Threads.

(TLD TV) (2016)

By 2016 I had also established a network of Christian actors and actresses. We began releasing Christian Comedy sketches on YouTube through the web series Christ Vines, which features short comedic Christian centred humour.  Scenes were written and directed by myself and we managed to achieve something quite unique. This has grown to include vloggers and an eclectic catalogue of Christian content.

Restored – Short Film (2016)

To give back to the Christian community I also began a web series called (The FAQS Corner) which answers frequently asked questions from Christians. At the same time I became aware of how big an issue domestic violence had become across the planet and that many Christians were also being affected by the issue. I therefore wrote and directed my first short film called ‘Restored’ which directly addresses domestic abuse. The film has been produced in association with Christian Domestic Violence charity ‘Restored’.

Best of UK Gospel (2016)

Continuing the trend of releasing compilation projects after each solo venture I released the Best of UK Gospel album under (The Lion’s Den) label. The aim of the project is to challenge the sound of Gospel music and breathe new life into the genre. I produced the entire project and took the sound of Gospel music to places that have never been fully explored. Everything can be heard, from Dubstep and RnB, to Gospel rap.

#UNITYmovement Gospel Rap Cypher (2016)

Answering more the call for more UNITY in the Gospel Rap scene I teamed up with Gospel Rapper J-Chief to produce Gospel Rap cyphers weekly. To date we have worked with over 40 rappers in the Christian scene building God’s Kingdom as well as bringing together artists and fans of the genre. The movement has reached as far as Germany with rappers becoming involved with the movement.
The Present…

I’m currently working on an EP with another Gospel rapper J-Chief. More details to follow.