“Byron Juane is not a perfect person but is a person who wants to inspire others to find hope through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The 21-year-old Gastonia, North Carolina rapper grew up listening to Jazz and Gospel music under the influence of his mother. He started getting into hip-hop, and his mother, a minister, gave him a Lecrae CD. Juane didn’t become a Lecrae fan at the time, but really enjoyed the music of Drake and Lupe Fiasco.

Through listening to their music, he came to understand how music can really shape an individual’s thought. “People can really stand for something through music, and people will listen.”

In sixth grade, Byron Juane starting rapping on his own. “It was trash, but I kept going. I really liked doing it.” In high school, he began recording his music and released his first project at age 17.

“I was always in church to the point where I hated it as a child.” Though Juane always went to church, he never had a considerable interest in his faith until his mother recommended he go to a church with a hip-hop dance team. “I was like, ‘Ew, no.'”

He and his sister ended up going once and saw that many of his friends and peers from school were in attendance.

“I thought that was super-weird because I didn’t know they were Christians because they certainly did not act like it.”

He didn’t like it, but his sister kept going and eventually he started coming also.

Byron’s sister connected him with the church’s Youth Minister, Amber, who asked him if he would join the dance team; he said no. “[Amber] asked me why I didn’t want to join. The reason I didn’t want to join at the time was because I saw the kids that didn’t live how they say they’re living when they dance every Sunday.”

Amber asked Byron if he wanted to tell his peers that, and he said yes. “On Wednesday, I told [that to] all of them at the Bible study that day‚Ķ I didn’t say y’all are some heathens and going to Hell or anything like that.”

Through that experience, Juane learned about humility and started going to the church.

“That church taught me to have a real genuine relationship with the Lord and how to really seek out His face.”

On May 31st, Juane released an EP called Hopeful Soul. “I wrote this project in the worst possible time in my life. It was awful.” He had been through a breakup and was suffering from severe depression.

“I almost attempted to commit suicide. Then my grandmother died from cancer.”

During this time, he would express his thoughts by writing raps and wanted to share them in an EP to show hope to listeners. “It’s not really sad, but its a journey of what I went through. At the end of the project, you’re left with [knowing that] there’s always hope.”

He encourages people to depend on God during the difficult times of their life, while also acknowledging that if a person is experiencing depression, they should seek professional help.

Cassandra Jolie designed the album art. “I told her I wanted her to have the whole direction of the artwork because I think she’s really dope.” Using a picture taken in a green-room, Jolie told Juane to take two pieces of paper and write down all of his feelings.

“She scanned it. That background is literally my handwriting.” Rather than being created digitally, the album art was made with paper. “She handmade the cover. It’s so crazy.”

Hopeful Soul begins with “Live Your Life,” sharing two different perspectives, one being from Juane, and the second being from a fictional person. “My perspective is that you always have people trying to bring you down.” He wants people not to let the negative influences get to them, and to attempt to see the positives in difficult circumstances.

“[Some] people suck and don’t want to be nice to you and are always there to bring you down. You can be like, ‘That does suck, but God has a better plan for me, and it won’t always be like this.'”

The next song, “Honey,” was a test of Juane’s R&B capabilities. “A lot of people liked it. People are always asking me, ‘Who is this song about?'” The answer is no one in particular. Juane speaks about the perfect girl that he would like to have in his life. “Wherever [she is], it’s just me singing what I would sing to her.” He would love for listeners to be able to sing his lyrics to someone they care about.

“Play Too Nice” is a “super sad” song about a girl and how people of Juane’s generation are hesitant to trust others. “They want to have trust issues so bad that everyone is out here playing each other. When you get a real thing, it’s hard to believe it because you don’t know if you’re gonna get played.”

The song described a real experience where Juane started pursuing a girl who at first flirted with him, but then backed away, claiming she had trust issues.

“When I was trying to be there for her, she didn’t know how to handle it. She would string me along, but when I wanted to get serious, she would push me away. It really hurt me.”

Hopeful Soul continues with “Nothing New” featuring TAYLORMADE. Juane explained that this song was part of a project called Paradise “that’s never gonna come out, ever.” The song is inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes, which reads in 1:9 (NIV), “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Juane said, “It’s just a realization that everything is vanity except Jesus. It’s sad because I would always go through girls, money, and music to make me whole, but at the end of the day, it didn’t fill me. Nothing will ever fill me except Jesus.”

The EP concludes with “I’m Good,” a culmination of all the experiences that went into the project, saying,

“Life sucks but God is good. It doesn’t matter what happens to me. It doesn’t matter what I go through. God is going to understand me, regardless.”

The song was written shortly after his grandmother died. “I cried when I wrote this. I was at such a low point, and I was like, ‘Jesus, why does this happen? I don’t understand.'” Juane came to the understanding that instead of focusing on how bad things are, he should focus on how good God is.

“I realized that no matter the circumstance, I’m gonna be good. Jesus is going to keep me. At the end of the day, there is going to be hope, regardless of the darkness that surrounds me.”

Outside of music, Juane loves to cook. “My sister is a chef, and I freaking love food.” He also likes to go hiking and play video games. His favorite games are Kingdom Hearts III, Titanfall, and NBA 2K19.

“I want people to remember that there’s always hope. If you struggle with any suicidal thoughts or depression, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to seek help.”

Follow Byron Juane on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Get or stream Hopeful Soul here.

Editor’s Note: If you are experiencing depression, severe or otherwise, we highly recommend you seek professional help: speak with a licensed counselor and visit a doctor.

Learn from WebMD about how to recognize depression and what steps you should take if you are experiencing depression.