Two planned suicides shaped Joey Jewish’s new album ‘American Dream’
Joey Jewish is still fairly new to Christian hip-hop. He testifies to be seriously pursuing rap for about 2-3 years now. Out of these few years, one moment has significantly stood out among all others.
In a Q&A session for Rapzilla.com’s 15 Freshmen of 2015, Joey Jewish spoke of a moving interaction with a teenage girl after a show that has since influenced his life and his music in major ways.
Joey had received a call from a church in Santa Barbara, Calif. to do a show for their youth ministry. He and few artists from his team, The Majors, flew out to the area for the show, which was later supplemented by two other performances in the area.
“The guys reached out to me and said, ‘We heard your music on a couple different Christian sites, including Rapzilla, and we want to find out information about booking you,’” Joey said. “We went out there and made a little mini tour out of it.”
At this point in his career, Joey had only been seriously rapping for about eight months to a year. He ended the show as he always had, with the sharing of his testimony and a somewhat slower worship song. He then opened up a time for prayer if anybody needed it.
Joey Jewish meets suicidal teen
This is when a young, teenage girl came up and shared something with Joey that he will never forget.
“Right after I gave that call and concluded the event, she came up and she was very timid — just very very stand-offish. You could tell she was shy,” Joey said. “She said, ‘I actually don’t even like hip hop. It’s not my type of music, and I wasn’t even going to come tonight. I was going to commit suicide.’”
The girl proceeded to explain how her strained relationship with her family and her friends at school had caused her to hate life. As she was talking with Joey, she broke down into tears and asked if he could pray for her.
“We grabbed hands, and we began to pray, and I could see these scars from slashes on her wrist and on her arms,” Joey said. “We prayed and you could just feel this intense presence. God just touched her right there.”
The girl has since kept in touch with Joey, telling him of how she is highly involved in the youth group at the Santa Barbara church. Furthermore, she is one of the few youths who is a part of an outreach team from her church to her local high school, helping spread the gospel on her campus.
“It was memorable for me, and it was pivotal because of the fact that I saw somebody actually get touched and changed by being a vessel that God could work through,” Joey said. “It showed me … it gave me an outlook, that this is so much bigger than music.”
Another reason Joey was deeply moved by this interaction was that he, too, had struggled with depression and suicide.
Joey Jewish attended college at the University of Arizona, where he became heavily involved in partying, drugs and alcohol. Upon graduating, he started to deal drugs for a living and soon recognized a need to get back on the right track.
It wasn’t long after committing to this that Joey realized he had a drinking problem. In an effort to fully clean up his life, he tried to quit drinking multiple times, and each time he failed. This long series of defeats created a deep depression in his life.
“It was just a mess. I couldn’t break free,” Joey said. “I was so depressed. I was so bound to this thing that I just wanted to die to escape what I was feeling on a daily basis.”
One night, Joey’s wife sent him to go get some groceries. He decided to use that opportunity to drive his car off a steep drop and kill himself. Although, in executing this plan, he experienced something he never expected.
“I jerked my wheel to the left to pull off at this ramp and right when I [did] it, my wheel locks, my car shuts off and I slowly just kind of fade over to the left side of the road,” Joey said. “Immediately, the spirit of God just hits me right where I am in my car… I feel this intense love come over me and say, ‘I love you and I forgive you. Just call out to me.’”
That night, Joey pleaded for help from God with his drinking problem and made a promise to fully serve God for the rest of his life.
Joey testifies that being able to see how he touched the heart of that young lady at the show in Santa Barbara who was experiencing these same sorts of troubles has affected his music career substantially, causing him to understand the amount of influence he can have as an artist.
“It really made me take a very serious approach to it,” Joey said. “When you’re doing something in the public eye, you’re becoming, automatically, very influential. I take it very seriously in the sense that I approach it with caution, and always in prayer.”
This serious and prayerful approach can be heard in Joey’s latest release, American Dream, which was released on May 15, in which Joey attempts to critique our modern perception of success in America.
“When you come to this country, we are told about the American dream — that you can come in this country, and you can make your life whatever you want,” Joey said. “Nowadays, the American dream to a lot of people, especially in urban culture, is you can hustle, you can sell dope, you can push weed and you can do what you want to illegally to make your American dream the way you want it to be.”
This message is most prominent in the title track, as well as the track “Hellish,” two of the most serious and heavy tracks on the project overall.
What can also be heard consistently throughout all tracks on this project is the more abstract approach taken by Joey, both lyrically and production wise. This is something he feels is vital in his artistry.
“I’m kind of in the thought process that if it has already been done and somebody else is doing it well, why am I going to replicate that?” Joey said. “I want to find myself, and I want to do me. I want to do what God has called me to do.”
Joey hopes that listeners can recognize the amount of thought and work he puts into this music.