In the still-budding years of Christian Hip Hop, fans of the genre were introduced to the soulful sounds of a singer from St. Louis known by the stage name J.R. Since his debut album Metamorphosis in 2005, the crooner has come to be recognized as one of the most dependable artists and producers in the genre. But his immense contributions to other rappers and collectives such as High Society has overshadowed his lengthy individual catalog. However, that’s about to change. As J.R. shared in an exclusive interview with Rapzilla, a brand new album is on the way.
“The name of my new record will be called Liberation” he revealed in the post-concert chat. “I recorded it at a time when I was being really experimental with my sound. And I want those who’ve been following me for years to experience that. ” The project will cue an avalanche of solo music from J.R., including 2 EP’s on “a Gospel perspective of love.” The sound of his new material will mirror that of his most recent single “First Train Home“, which was widely acclaimed across Christian Hip Hop. “The new single ‘First Train Home’ is right on par with the new sound. There’s a lot of live guitars and my usual taste of drums because I can’t get away from my roots. But it will be a different feel.”
Despite his absence from solo work, being consistently featured on some of the top albums in Christian Hip Hop was an encouragement to him. “For one, it really showed me that people appreciate what I do, and they’re blessed by it. When you’re in the game for 10 years, it’s encouraging to know that Lecrae, Andy, This’l and so many others are still feeling what you do”. Considering his distinctly pure voice and penetrating lyrics, it’s no wonder that he never lacks feature opportunities. But this is just one side of J.R’s artistry. “As a producer, it shows I’ve still got it. In our time, with Fruity Loops, Logic and Pro Tools, any guy can become a producer. But to know that people still call on me shows that I’m still a producer of musical compositions, not just a beat-maker.”
Despite his collaborative mindset, Liberation won’t have many at all. “Honestly, it’s pretty much going to have no rap features at all” the singer admitted. “There may be one on a special song called ‘Burn Notice’, which is a response to the Trayvon Martin situation. But other than that, I didn’t want to have any features.” Fans will be treated to the warmth of this solo album “likely in October”, just in time for the winter months.
Even though he’s known for experimenting with sounds, J.R. wants to make it completely clear that he’s not experimenting with his doctrine. “It’s funny because many people have heard me take off the ‘Christian’ moniker when it comes to my music, and they think I’ve lost interest in my faith. That couldn’t be further from the truth.” According to the singer, the truth has liberated him from human labels. “As you grow in your art, you don’t want to be boxed in to being a CHH or R&P or even an R&B artist. I’m a born again man making music, and the world is going to hear the Gospel in my art. I’m more rooted and grounded than ever.” A rooted, grounded and hungry J.R. sounds like the proper formula for some special new music.