FT. LAUDERDALE, FL – As a young Christian who loved hip-hop, Jonathan Giles often found himself frustrated with the lack of faith-based rappers in mainstream music.
He loved secular artists like Juvenile and Lil’ Wayne, but he also felt guilty about enjoying their music because he knew his faith didn’t agree with messages he was hearing in a lot of their songs. As he grew older and discovered a talent for rapping and making music, the struggle became more intense. Did he give up on making music – something he loved so much – or did he ignore the whispers of his faith telling him to walk away from the negativity of the music he so frequently found? By college he had come to the conclusion that he would walk away from hip-hip.
“But then one day a teenager in my youth group asked me if I’d ever heard of Lecrae – a Christian rapper,” J-Giles said. “I hadn’t heard of him, but when I checked him out and heard what he was doing, it inspired me to look for other artists like him who were real hip-hop artists but weren’t afraid to be spiritual. I started to listen to more people – people I hadn’t even known existed. It was so exciting, and I just couldn’t stop myself from writing. I wasn’t planning on recording anything, but the more I wrote the more things started to come together and next thing I know I’m recording my first album.”
Nine albums later, J-Giles is beginning to get some nationwide recognition. And his new album, “Hands on the Clock,” is a great example of the journey he’s taken – both in life and as a Christian. From growing up in a spiritual family, to accepting Jesus at a summer camp, to finding his wife and growing their faith together – J-Giles pours his life experiences into his music, and “Hands on the Clock” is a good representation of the amazing things God does in the lives of his people over time.
“The theme of the album is ‘time,’” J-Giles said. “A lot of us feel like we’re down here by ourselves and there’s not a God who’s working for us. This project is about a God who is outside of time but still involved and still cares about us. It’s about what you do when you’re going through tough times in your life and it feels like everything sucks. I hope this album helps others see that they shouldn’t give up and become bitter or discouraged.”
The lyrics on the album are raw, because they’re born from a tragedy in J-Giles’s life – the death of his newborn baby daughter at the time of her birth. He said it was such an unexpected and sudden tragedy that it has deeply affected him and caused he and his wife to turn to God for strength and support in the months since.
“This album is a reflection of what I’m feeling and going through,” he said. “It’s about the challenges we go through on a day-to-day basis and how we should keep our heads up and still follow our dreams, and hopefully see success and victory over the years.”
The first single off the album, “Even If Your Heart Stops,” directly relates to his personal tragedy. It’s a song that encourages others to push through tragedy. The song is already available for download on iTunes. While the album itself is available for pre-order.
“Even if you go through the worst moment in your life, time doesn’t stop for you,” J-Giles said. “You still have to wake up and go to work and pay bills. God is there with you as you’re dealing with tragedy, but you have to push through.”
As with all of his work, J-Giles hopes that this new album will inspire others to look to God for help and comfort. Ultimately, he hopes that his music is a faithful use of his talents for God.
“Whatever I’m given – whether it’s a small platform or a larger platform or somewhere in between – I just need to be faithful with what I have,” he said. “A lot of the vision for my music is being put on my heart and mind, and I just want to be faithful to that.”