“J-Phish is an indie Christian rapper who was inspired by a lot of one-one-six back in the day who thought that he had the opportunity to use some of his talents to make an impact.”
In college, J-Phish listened to a lot of hip-hop that promoted a life contrary to Christianity. He was a big fan of Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, and Kendrick Lamar but “once God came in and started doing something in my life, switching things around, I knew I needed better influences.” A friend introduced him to Lecrae’s music, and J-Phish later expanded his palette to listen to other Christian hip-hop artists. He said that after Andy Mineo’s Heroes For Sale album released in 2013, he listened to it hundreds of times. “The content was so encouraging. It was fire, super dope. Because of that, it really encouraged me to better things in my life and continue to push towards Jesus.” Having been inspired by how music impacted him, J-Phish decided to use his musical talents to uplift others.
Shortly after he started making his own music, while still in college, J-Phish had an inspirational conversation with a fan at a concert. Having not had a stage name at the time, he called his wife. “I told her the story. I was really impacted and felt like this is an affirmation that I am really doing what I should be doing.” His wife responded, saying that he was fishing for people, like “a little Jesus fish. I was like, ‘J-Phish.’ That’s literally how it happened.”
Last month, J-Phish worked with producer JuiceBangers to create an EP called Shine Forever. Dove Award-winning JuiceBangers, known for his work with Reach Records artists, had posted to Twitter saying that he wanted to collaborate with indie artists. “I shot him a DM right away. He had heard of me and heard some of my stuff, so he was like, ‘Bro, let’s do it.'”
Working with JuiceBangers was a great experience for J-Phish. “He basically sent me maybe twenty beats and was like, ‘These are sort of catered to your sound, and you can pick what you want.'” They ended up working on about nine songs together, but only five of them made it out to the public. J-Phish describes JuiceBangers as “a cool dude to talk to, very chill, and a super-fire producer.”
Not included on the EP, their song “Shine” was inspired by the notion that Christians are supposed to be a light to the world. “I just thought about how we’re supposed to shine here as light in the darkness, [and how] we’re promised that we’re going to shine forever,” J-Phish explains that through believing in the Gospel, Christians will shine after death for all eternity. After sharing the concept with JuiceBangers, they decided that it should be the theme of their collaborative EP.
The pair wanted each song to encourage Christians that while they are on the Earth, they are called to more than living an ordinary life. With Shine Forever’s introductory song, “Court,” the duo sought to use sports metaphors to say, “if you’re a Christian, you’ve got to get in the game. You can’t say you believe this stuff and sit on the sideline.” J-Phish wants listeners to be proactive in serving the church, serving their communities, and sharing their faith. “Christians make a really big impact here if we trust the gift that God has given us, which is the Holy Spirit.”
The following song, “Zoom,” is J-Phish’s favorite song on the EP, one in which he flexes his rapping abilities. “For the last five to six years since God saved me back in college, He’s just always motivated me to do more and be more.” He is a staff member at his church, serving in their youth ministry and leading their young adults’ ministry. “With the idea of shining forever and getting on the court, I’m in it… you’re gonna know I’m there because I’ve got the Spirit of God in me, so I’m gonna make an impact.”
While writing Shine Forever, J-Phish knew he wanted to address the fact that Christians will have to fight for their faith, specifically against the devil. “No Deal is about how we’re gonna come up in different aspects of life and the devil is going to give you options that aren’t of God.” When experiencing temptation, J-Phish says he wants to be the kind of person that “when the devil offers me something, I tell him, ‘no deal.'”
The fourth and final song on the EP, “All Ready,” has an upbeat sound and is about being prepared for the return of Christ. “I surround myself intentionally with people who live ready for when God comes back. They live their lives so that whenever Jesus comes back, we’ll be his squad, his army.”
Later this year, J-Phish intends to release his second full-length album, which has collaborations from big-name artists and producers that he was excited to have the opportunities to work with.
Outside of music, sports has been a huge part of J-Phish’s life. He played soccer in college and later for a semi-pro team. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, saying, “they are the light of my life. I make sure that they come first.”
Get or stream Shine Forever here.