Doctors predicted Rodney “J Prophet” Reynolds would be born brain dead.
The artist went on to attend Yale University.
Not enough oxygen made it to his brain prior to birth. God breathed life into him instead.
“I was literally prayed into the world and I feel that God has had his hand on me ever since,” J Prophet told Wade-O Radio.
The rapper is nicknamed after the prophet Jeremiah because God called Jeremiah from birth. J Prophet didn’t always feel like God resided by his side, though.
He graduated from high school a four-year letterman in football and baseball and three-year letterman in basketball. J Prophet earned a spot on Yale’s football team, but he sat the bench until his senior year. The blink-of-an-eye transition from superstar to scout team wore on him.
“I lost so much happiness not playing for three years,” said J Prophet.
He felt abandoned and betrayed, but in hindsight, he realizes God never left him.
“When I was questioning myself as an athlete, intellect, person and man, Jesus was right there with me and allowed me to get through it,” said J Prophet.
“I Got Bread”
J Prophet, who lives in Mount Vernon, NY, identified with DJ Wade-O’s column “Why Christian Hip Hop Isn’t Successful in New York City.” Money proved to be the greatest obstacle the rapper hurdled to release his EP “I Got Bread.” Due to J Prophet’s struggle to collect money—or bread—the title is ironic, but a deeper intent than irony inspired it.
“Don’t worry about what you don’t have,” he said. “Worry about what you have.”
J Prophet cited when Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Low on funds like the apostles were low on food, he trusted in God to provide. He did, turning “nickels and dimes” into 28 minutes of music.
Hence, “I Got Bread.”
Reaching the Youth
J Prophet is a youth minister as well as rapper. His role in church demands that he keep an eye and ear out for what is influencing the younger generation. He claimed the greatest threat to teens and young adults is their consumption and output of media-produced images.
“A lot of times [young people] are consuming without direction and guidance and that can set off negative internalized imagery,” said J Prophet.
He explained that the media perpetuates lies about money, education and communal identity.
The consumer culture soaks in those lies and molds their identity around them. The negative influences that J Prophet identifies inspire him to intervene and interrupt the cycle which ultimately leads to emptiness.
“If we tap into what God has for us, how much God loves us and how much grace we’ve received,” said J Prophet, “I think a lot of these lies could be broken.”
The hip-hop artist interned at a church which runs an open mic night called Kingdom Café. It provides an opportunity for children and teens to express themselves artistically.
However, all too often participants attempted to tell someone else’s narrative, leaving J Prophet saying, “Wow, I know you don’t live that.” He heard stories about the club and throwing dollar bills at strippers which sounded to him more like Drake and Big Sean’s stories than the performers’.
J Prophet performed at an event in Philadelphia, PA which offered an 11-year-old to rap a verse on stage. He started rapping about Heineken.
“Dude, you’re 11 years old. You don’t drink Heineken,” said an exasperated J Prophet. “Tell your story. If it’s about Cheetos and about passing notes in class, talk about that. What is this life you’re pretending to live that you don’t live?”
Such mimicry pains J Prophet. It isn’t the biting which makes him cringe. It’s the fact that members of the younger generations aren’t finding their identity in Christ alone.
Besides his love for the culture, its art form and a belief in the power of words, J Prophet does hip hop to show others that being real is the only way to rap.
“How can I love them enough to show them that their story is worth telling?” he asked. “How can I empower them and inspire them enough to say, ‘You know what, I have my own narrative, I don’t have to copy what everybody else says.’ How can I get them to see that they’re a child of the creator? That’s humongous to me. The fact that God created everything around us and he thought it was worthy to create me too? That’s crazy. How deep of value would I see in myself if I were able to understand that?”