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Gospel’s rap star
JANUARY 2 - 8, 2014 THE VOICE 24
Christian rapper Jahaziel talks to YV’s Michelle Martin about leaving the street life behind, spreading the gospel through rap and landing international fame
HEN YOU think of hip-hop music, especially in the UK, spreading the gospel through rap are not normally two things that go hand in hand. But one young rapper has successfully married the two genres and is now on a mission to share the Lord’s message through the unequivocal voice of hip-hop. “My love for rap music started when I was a lot younger,” says Christian rapper Jahaziel. “I was listening to the likes of Public Enemy, Gangster rap and stuff like that. It was that type of hip-hop that really inspired me to start rapping. “Early on, I was rapping about a lot of stuff that I thought
people wanted to hear, a lot of falsehoods. A lot of lies about a lifestyle that I wasn’t actually living.” The south London native readily admits that his introduction to hip-hop came at a time when he was living a dangerous life on the roads, once admitting in an interview, “being involved in street life, and being brought up in a broken home all affected me in different ways.” “I became disillusioned, I started to see things for what they really were,” says the born again wordsmith. “People that I used to look up to getting put in prison, getting stabbed and even murdered. He adds: “It had me really thinking, if they’re ahead in the
game and that’s where I’m trying to be and ultimately that’s where they are ending up, is that really where I want to go?” Questioning the role, if any, he had on the streets, led to a chance meeting with an old acquaintance that was to forever change the course of his life. “Around that time I bumped into a friend who I hadn’t seen for a long while. We used to be close, we even raved together,’ says the youth worker, “but this time he seemed markedly differently so I asked him, what’s changed? “He revealed he was a born again Christian. I didn’t really know what that meant and I wanted to know more, so he
came to my house every week for bible study, then he invited me to church. There, I saw that it was real.” When asked why he chose Christianity over all the other religions, the MOBO award-winning rapper replies: “I think the most impressive thing for me was the God he was speaking about was the God who created every God. Everyone else I was talking to had a picture of a relationship with God that only appealed to certain people, it was like you had to be of a certain type, or a certain colour, or culture to get in, but this religion to me seemed like the God that created everything.” Jahaziel, whose name means ‘Beheld by Jehovah God’, says it was then he decided to merge his love of hip-hop with his newfound love of God – but not everyone felt as passionately as he did. “The union of gospel and hiphop initially wasn’t an easy one,” he admits. ”They [the church], didn’t agree with rap at that time so I never really mentioned to no one that I was doing it.” “But it just seemed natural to me,” he adds. “I took what I was hearing and what I was learning and incorporated the two. I just translated it and put it into rhyme. To me it’s poetry and so far it’s paid off.”
And he’s right. His music has been well-received both nationally and internationally earning him a coveted Music of Black Origin (MOBO) award along the way. “I am one of the few British people who do Christian rap or Gospel rap. A lot of Americans are aware of [my music], hence why I have recently been signed to a US label.” He adds: “I have been blessed to work with some of the biggest names in the industry including reggae legend Maxi Priest, who incidentally happens to be my uncle. It was a long time coming and it was a great experience.” When talk moves to the future, the Heads Up wordsmith pauses before answering.
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“I write my plans in sand and my goals are set in stone,” he says. “Where I want to get to and want I want to achieve both musically and with Christ have really changed in the last ten years, but my goal ultimately is to make Christ known through music.” He adds: “To close I will say this, if God inspires you to do something, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Know that God gives you the vision, the strength and the tools to make that dream happen.” Jahaziel’s album Heads Up and single They Don’t Know are out now. For more information, visit www.jahazielmusic.com
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OR BUSTED? F F U B Dear Kat, I recently broke up with my boyfriend after two years together and I just can’t seem to get over him. It’s been about three weeks since I called time on our relationship because he wasn’t making enough time to see me, but I miss him so much. He said he didn’t want it to end, but I got tired of always coming second to everything else in his life. But now I’ve had time to think, I’m wondering whether I was too hasty in my decision and have made a mistake. We haven’t spoken since we broke up, but I really want to reach out to him. What do you think I should do? Anon
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Hi Anon, When we break up with someone in anger or frustration, once we calm down, we reflect on our time with that person. What often happens is that we may reflect solely on the good times and forget the reasons why we decided to call it quits. It’s natural that you would miss your ex, you’ve calmed down and you’re reflecting on your time together – mainly the good times. In your reflection, however, do not neglect to balance those memories with the reasons why you decided to end things. In regards to reaching out to him, I would say this: if your positive thoughts outweigh the negative, it’s something you should consider. If, on the contrary, your negative thoughts outweigh the positive, you have your answer. Maybe give yourself a little more time before you make a decision. There are two people and their feelings to consider in this situation.
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JANUARY 2 - 8, 2014 THE VOICE 25
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Published on Jan 7, 2014
Christian rapper Jahaziel talks to Young Voice's Michelle Martin about leaving the street life behind, spreading the gospel through rap and...