KJ-52, born Jonah Sorrentino, broke through at a time when rap and religion rarely mixed. “KJ” is an abbreviation of his old rap name that he had before he was being a born again christian. “52” (pronounced “five-two”) represented the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. KJ-52 believe he is spreading the word of the Lord in much the same way Jesus shared the food in the story. But his road to Christian hip-hop heaven wasn’t easy. He recorded a demo, but it was largely ignored. Later a relationship with Gotee Records’ Todd Collins led to a deal with Nashville CCM label Essential, and the label released the debut KJ-52 full-length, Seventh Avenue, in April of 2000.
With his own mix of sharp wit and lyrical intelligence, he steadily led the genre into the mainstream, making the scene via guest spots on pop records (Newsboys, TobyMac and Jeremy Camp). KJ-52 makes relevant cultural and spiritual references that resonate with young people around the country. “I was that kid. I felt like an outcast until God showed me a way and put me in training, so to speak—taught me another way of thinking. So often taking a stand for truth and love in the world can make people say we’ve gone mental; but it’s when we choose to go against the grain that we begin to make a real difference.”