While the vast majority of Christian Hip Hop fans may not be familiar with his music, Jerrell Johnson has composed quite a reputation for himself. From his deep discography to his memorable freestyles, he is anything but an unknown face to loyal listeners of the genre. Most recently his latest release, Dream S.O.D.A., gained a host of critical and social acclaim from fans and websites alike, even garnering him a mention on Rapzilla’s 10 Under The Radar Albums of 2012 as well as super producer Dirty Rice calling it “A breath of fresh air, and the most creative thing I’ve heard in a very very long time.” With this momentum, the rapper is preparing to release his new conceptual masterpiece, Lightmares.
“With Lightmares, I think the strength that I have is that I know what I want to talk about,” the South Florida native shared with Rapzilla in an exclusive interview session. “To take Dream S.O.D.A. to the next level, and do this comic book booklet to break down each of the songs from the mixtape. In the process of creating the book, I decided rather than doing the comic, I wanted to make a literal audio comic book story.” The creativity should come as no shock to his fans, as Johnson is clearly one of the most creative emcees in the genre. But this is not intended to be just another concept album. “I always hear concept albums, and they never really flow all the way with the concept that they touch on. I really wanted to execute the concept fully with this one.”
He went on to explain how Lightmares “is about a kid named Kevin Light Mare” The project is a step-by-step take of the life of this fictitious character. Much like the strength of Dream S.O.D.A., it aims to carry on Johnson’s tradition of brutal honesty and real life experiences that penetrated the hearts of those who listened. “It’s really like a love letter to people who are into the same things that I’m into. I believe that God has given us all an imagination, and we can use it for good.”
In the midst of his successful run of projects, has the artist considered attaching his brand to the label? “There’s a lot of freedom in being an underground artist. When you’re on a label or have a big corporate machine there tends to be a lot more pressure with things that you don’t want to do but have to do. I actually want to stay independent.” Johnson desires to release “some time between September and November for sure. It’ll be no later than that.” In the meantime, fans and curious onlookers alike will eagerly await this audio comic book love letter. Maybe it will reveal the “Lightmare” inside all of us.