My music doesn’t inform my life. My life informs my music. I’ve learned that I create best when I live my album first.” – Json
Json, the CEO of Lamp Mode Recordings, is a St. Louis-based emcee known for his transparency, gospel-centeredness, skill at his craft and longevity in the game.Whether the topic is parenting, sexual abuse or life in the hood, Json approaches real-life subjects with a soul-touching openness and authenticity.
“My music will always be a reflection of who I am and where I am,” Json said. “I’m a transparent person in real life. My music doesn’t inform my life. My life informs my music. I’ve learned that I create best when I live my album first.”
Growing up in St. Louis – on the tough streets of the 314 – Json experienced everything that comes with growing up in the hood. It wasn’t all bad. But it wasn’t all good. He was heavily caught up in the street life when the Jesus saved him.
“I honestly have to credit it to God’s grace,” Json said. “I loved the streets. The hood was all I knew. My wife, who was my girlfriend at that time, used to pray for me regularly, and Lord saw fit to rock me. Another really huge component was my big brother Kenny. He was the first dude I knew from the hood that was around my age who was truly serving the Lord faithfully after leaving the streets. It was his church I began attending after accepting Jesus.”
For Json, he was sure picking up his cross meant putting down the mic. Fortunately, a friend encouraged him to continue to pursue music.
“Actually, a friend of mine who was a barber wanted to meet someone who he knew that produced,” Json recalled. “I was really reluctant to meet the guy. Long story short, we meet and started to create together. He introduced me to JR (Courtney Orlando), who introduced me to (fellow Christian hip-hop artists) Flame and Thi’sl. The rest is history.”
Json’s music has always mirrored his life, and his album discology chronicles his Christian journey. His first album, The Seasoning, was released independently. “It was just a presentation of raw zeal and passion for the Lord,” Json said.
After releasing his sophomore project Life on Life independently, Json signed with Lamp Mode Records, and the album was re-released. “I already had friendship with the label,” Json said. “Joshua Wann (DJ Essence) was mastering Life on Life. I heard it started with a joke saying they should sign me, but they eventually reached out, and it seemed like a good fit.”
Life on Life, as the title suggests, focuses on discipling relationships within the body of Christ. “The album was me dumping everything I was learning into a project,” Json said. “I was in season of zeal and investment in others.”
The critically acclaimed City Lights album is one of Json’s best-received projects. It’s a call for Christians to live out the gospel in the city. “I was in a season of desire to see impact in my own hood and my own city,” Json said.
City Lights was followed up by Growing Pains. After moving from St. Louis to serve the Lord in Iowa, the album chronicles God’s faithfulness through a hard season of life. “This project is life’s pain and difficulties wrapped up in an album,” Json said. “This was a season of maturity and experiencing God’s grace through that maturity.”
Braille continued the theme of making music fans could feel. At this time, Json also took over as CEO of Lamp Mode. “I had been helping with things from time to time behind the scenes,” Json said.
“The label was in a time of transition, and Josh (Essence) thought it would be a good fit.”
No Filter was focused on the theme of true identity in Christ. “No Filter was a return to my roots,” Json said, “just finding who I am as an artist.”
The highly anticipated Foreign represents the joy in returning to St. Louis to serve the Lord back in his hometown. “This project is the expression of the energy after returning back home,” Json said. “It’s a season of joy.”