Christian Rapper Forges Uncharted Path

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Dove Award winner Jonah Sorrentino, better known as KJ-52, is far from being your typical hip-hop artists.

His lyrics are clean and he isn't afraid to rap about what it takes to get to Heaven.

His music videos may inspire smiles and laughter, but Sorrentino is serious about his craft.

"If you understand my background, you have got to figure I am a white guy from Florida doing Christian hip-hop," Sorrentino said. "It's not exactly the typical anything period.  But it made me realize that if God is going to do this, He is going to have to take what little I have and multiply it."
In 2007, he earned a Dove Award for rap, hip-hop album of the year, but the road to music success hasn't been easy.

"I sat down with a major radio station and he went through all of my music," Sorrentino recalled. "He said 'You have got it. This is perfect. I can totally play this, except for your content.'" 
On one hand, the 34-year-old husband and father has taken some heat for his clean lyrics. On the other hand, he's also been compared to the popular - and often controversial - rap star Eminem.

"He actually addresses me on his new record," Sorrentino said. "He has a song called be careful what you wish for, and in the third verse he talks about a fan writing him a letter praying for him.  And how he appreciated it."
But Sorrentino first addressed Eminem first in a song titled "Dear Slim." 

In it he says, "Dear Slim. I never wrote you, or recall it. My name ain't Stan, son. Nah, we never met.

It's a song that keeps giving him attention he never expected or wanted.

"MTV's VH1 decides to play it in the 30 worst moments of hip-hop, and play my video," he recalled. "And then TRL took it and ran with it.  So these are like these snowball affects. And every time I think it is over with, something else happens."

Sorrentino would much rather rap about the troubles, dreams and hopes his young fans share. After all, this is a former youth pastor who can drop a verse on just about anything.
Sorrentino's sixth solo project "5-2 Television" is scheduled to go on sale Tuesday.

*Originally published September 23, 2009

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