DJ Noble: Behind the Mic
By Jennifer E. Jones
For the local Hampton Roads listeners of Virginia Beach, VA, DJ Noble is the voice coming through their radios every night on WJLZ The Current. He’s chilled and relaxed but his passion for music – especially Christian hip-hop – is evident.
Lighting up the airwaves every evening from 7 p.m. to midnight is more than just a job to DJ Noble (or just Noble to his friends). It’s a slice of his life story.
“I grew up lovin’ hip-hop. I’m originally from Kansas. I was another White kid who listened to hip-hop,” Noble tells CBNmusic. “I had a cousin from the Bronx, and he introduced me to the music and the culture. That was about 7th or 8th grade.”
That was also the late ‘80s, early ‘90s when hip-hop was at its most controversial. Noble confides, “I sneaked tapes in my house because it was the N.W.A. era, and that’s when things really got raunchy. I remember getting the tape stuck in my parents’ car and getting’ scared and having to get the screw driver to get it out.”
Kansas didn’t have a thriving hip-hop community back then but Noble was fortunate enough to catch a few of his favorite rap artists on tour when they came through town. Rap artists such as Busta Rhymes, Tribe Called Quest, and Big Daddy Kane were among the acts he saw live, and it only left him wanting more.
He says, “I’ve always had that love for hip-hop and always embraced the culture. I had a dream one day that I would be part of the industry, and God has really changed that.”
DJ Noble says that he has the same zeal for the youth and the music but now he’s doing it for a higher purpose. It’s a calling that took a little while to materialize.
“I saw going to church and my lifestyle outside of the church as being two different things. It wasn’t one in the same,” he says. “I couldn’t really associate hip-hop with being a Christian.”
His first experiences with Christian rap weren’t enough to pique his interest. “I don’t have anything against dcTalk,” he says of the popular Christian group that began as rappers. “It just wasn’t for me at the time.”
It wasn’t until Noble found Christ that his perspective started to shift.
“Before I had a relationship with the Lord, I was unwilling to lay down my lifestyle,” he shares. “I was like, ‘There’s no way I can serve God and do the things I do and listen to the music I listen to.’ That was the main reason why I didn’t give my life to the Lord because I wasn’t willing to sever those ties.”
But God was working on Noble’s heart, and when Noble found himself in a place where he needed Him, the Lord was there.
“I gave up fighting whatever I was fighting. I was like, ‘Lord, You’re too good. You’re too merciful and gracious on my life. You saved me.’ It was a physical, mental, spiritual type of salvation. It wasn’t just that I heard the Word. It was a seven to eight year process. When I finally committed my soul to the Lord and said, ‘I’ll give everything up to You; I’ll even give my lifestyle away for You,’ a couple months later, I trashed all my CDs.”
With the help of a friend, Noble did the hardest thing for a true music lover to do: he took all of his offensive music and chucked it into the dumpster. To this day, he says he has no regrets.
“I was so into God, I didn’t care. [I said] ‘If this is what I gotta do to live a righteous and holy life, I’ll do it.’ There’s nothing I can take with me to heaven, and I’m not going to benefit from it here. So I was glad to do it.”
After that, Noble found that he could still have his hip-hop and be holy too.
“The gospel rap was introduced to me through Cross Movement and Gospel Gangstas,” he says. “They filled the void for me. I felt like I could still be myself. I don’t have to be somebody that I’m not and still like the music and the culture. I don’t compromise the culture as long as I’m following God.”
After moving to Virginia, Noble met a woman at church who volunteered at a local Christian radio station that was in need of disc jockeys.
“They wanted to start a hip-hop show. I thought, ‘Yeah, that would be cool.’ I did secular radio in college,” he says. “I would play any genre of music. What’s funny with that is, when I came here, I had no idea what I was playing. I had no idea what holy hip-hop was except for a couple of groups. I had no idea what Christian/CCM music was. I would pull CDs off the wall saying, ‘Well, they look like they can sing,’ and pop it in. But I was willing.”
His perseverance paid off, and two months later, Noble was given the green light to start Urban 1:1, WJLZ’s premier hip-hop hour.
“Urban 1:1 comes from John 1:1,” he says. ‘”In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ The Word is Jesus Christ. The Word is hip-hop. It’s preaching over a beat. So we’re giving people the gospel and Jesus Christ over the beat and through the sound waves.”
Noble hit the streets and became a champion for local artists in the area by playing their music and attending rap concerts. He learned as much as he could about the genre that had previously been foreign to him.
“We have artists that represent from everywhere now,” he says. “It’s blossomed. It’s the favor of God to get it where it is now.”
That favor also led Noble to move beyond Urban 1:1 to become WJLZ’s primetime disc jockey. The musical adventure has helped him grow not only as a radio pro, but also as a Christian.
“It’s really built up my faith,” he says. “I don’t have to go back to the world to get what I need. I get it right here.”
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