We are very excited to have had the opportunity to catch up with Elohin and hear a little bit about his journey and how God is moving in his life.
At Tentmaker we like to keep the main thing the main thing and so we always lead with this question, could you please share a little bit of your testimony with us?
I have been following Jesus for about 12 years now. I grew up in a single parent home raised by my mom, aunt and late grandmother. My home wasn't a Christian home. I was taught to believe that God existed and I was given a kids bible but it really didn't mean anything to me especially as I got older. I had no relationship with Jesus and I honestly didn't want one. As long as I felt I was a good person then everything was all good.
Not having a father around didn't help either. It left a very negative impression on me. My mom did her best to raise me the right way but I really struggled with identity and trying to fit in with the people that I hung out with. When I discovered hip hop it gave me an identity and a sense of belonging. I often tell people that hip-hop was a gift and a curse for me. It kept me from going too far with many of my bad choices because I was really focused on the music. On the flip side it hindered me from ever pursuing a relationship with God because hip hop was something that I wasn't willing to give up and walk away from.
After a relationship heartbreak and me beginning to reap the many consequences of my bad choices, I began to consider the possibility of getting closer to God. Shortly after that I started working a new job and I was fully introduced to the saving truth of the gospel by one of the supervisors who was a Christian and a rapper as well. We became good friends and I started attending a Pentecostal holiness church with him and eventually asked God to forgive my sins, gave my heart to Christ and was later baptized.
Thank you for sharing, that is fantastic, praise God!!
You started to share a bit of this in your testimony but can you elaborate more on how long & why you started making music?
I've been making music since I was 13 years old. I started writing because I wanted to be creative but more importantly I needed an outlet to express myself and my feelings. The problem is I was not good at it lol. After I wrote my first song I made a promise to myself to never write again because I felt it was so bad lol. I eventually broke that promise and started writing again. I continued to get better and grow as an artist which led me to start pursuing hip hop as a career. Once I became a Christian I stopped rapping for about a year. When I started back my message was different because my heart was different. Now, writing is just second nature and I do it consistently. My music obviously comes from a Christian perspective because of my faith but I write songs and make music for everyone no matter what beliefs they have or don't have.
Awesome! What are some of your goals concerning music and life?
On the mic I find myself on stages of all kind from performance venues, festivals, churches, prisons, detention centers etc... One of my goals is to continue putting out new music every year or sooner and to ink a national distribution deal to expand my reach and impact. I talk a lot about personal struggles, social issues and faith in my music and I find that those who are in their 20's and 30's and even those in their 40's are my biggest listeners. When people appreciate your gift and are impacted by your songs it really keeps your passion burning especially on those difficult days.
Off the mic I want to continue learning and becoming a better father to my two boys and a better husband to my wife. Family is everything and I deeply value them. I also want to raise 100% of my ministry budget and continue to impact the public school youth here in metro Detroit and throughout the entire state of Michigan through a ministry that I'm involved in called Michigan Youth Alive. We bring a positive non religious message to youth in public schools during school hours and we partner with churches in the community of those schools to bring a gospel driven night event at the school after hours.
That is great that you are getting into the opportunity to go into schools like that, praise God! We will be praying that God do a mighty work in and through you and those involved!!
Who is your favorite musician of all time and who have been rocking to lately?
I don't really have a favorite artist/ band of all time. I like a wide variety of artist and groups. I'm the type of guy that will listen to Lauryn Hill, Da T.R.U.T.H., Tasha Cobbs, Aaron Cole, Phill Collins, William Matthews and Michael Jackson all in one day lol. I'm a melting pot when it comes to listening to music. But I will say that lately I've been really feeling 1K Phew, Da T.R.U.T.H. and William Matthews. All three of these artist make great music.
There is nothing wrong with listening to a diverse group of artists, there is so much amazing music out there! It's awesome that you can go through your day listening to that many different people, keeps things interesting!
Fun question, what is your ideal sandwich?
Man why did you have to bring up food. Now you're making me hungry lol. I would say that an ideal sandwich for me would definitely be a 1/2 lbs bacon cheese burger with chopped smoked beef brisket, a few chopped white onions and BBQ sauce on a toasted bun #Facts
Umm, yea, as a resident pudgy man that just made my mouth water!!
If you were to name a Playlist after your life, what would you call it, and what would be 3 songs you would include on that playlist?
No questions about it I would name the playlist "The Construction Zone" and it would feature my song On My Knees, 1K Phew - Long Way and Andy Mineo - You Can't Stop Me. My life is always under construction by the Holy Spirit so that title would be very fitting for me.
Sweet! Love that! Praise God that He sees His work through to completion!
Do you have a life verse and/or a favorite book of the Bible?
Job 19:25-27 would hands down be my life verses. Through everything that this world can throw my way, though it may be painful, I am reminded that it is only temporary. In the end I know that I will meet God face to face. Every sorrow will be removed and every tear will be wiped away. I stand on that promise and I deeply anticipate that day.
Genesis is my favorite book of the bible overall. God's original plan for mankind and God's redemptive plan for mankind is laid out. Many of the questions and issues that we argue about today are answered right there in Genesis. It's an amazing book.
It's awesome to hear you say Genesis, it's not often that people mention that as a favorite book but you aren't kidding, it is an amazing book indeed!
Can you share with us a synopsis of your latest release and what was the motivation behind putting the mixtape together?
It's really funny because "Boom Bap Soul" which is the name of the mixtape, wasn't even originally apart of my marketing plan or budget. I was still promoting my 2nd album "R 2.0 Let's Continue" and I had began writing and recording songs for a 3rd album when Aretha Franklin passed away. Even though her music wasn't apart of my generation, I was still impacted by her legacy as an artist and as a Detroiter. The next day after her passing I went in the studio and recorded a freestyle called "No Way" over a jazzy boom bap beat that sampled some of Aretha's vocals. It turned out super hot so I immediately put it out on Soundcloud for free download. Eventually I made it an officially single releasing it on Spotify, ITunes ect... I don't know, it just really sparked something in me so I recorded another song "On My Knees" which was also well received. By that time the idea for a boom bap mixtape was birthed.
The whole concept for "Boom Bap Soul" is to take soulful boom bap beats and bring back lyrics, barz, and unique concepts that is not commonly found in a lot of the more popular trap music and mumble rap. Not throwing shade at anybody because I like trap music and mumble rap too. I just wanted to shake things up and do something different and something raw that still had a commercial appeal. I have never really done a mixtape so I decided to drop one and go against the grain in the process. Even though it's a mixtape, it honestly flows cohesively just like an album. It doesn't have that unfinished sound that mixtapes commonly have. I decided to make two versions of "Boom Bap Soul". A free download version that has 16 songs and a shorter commercial version with 12 songs. It's honestly a great project. The free download version is available on Datpiff.com at http://piff.me/62544fd and the commercial version is available on all digital outlets (http://smarturl.it/boombapsoul).
Love it when God changes our direction and something awesome is birthed, pretty rad story!
Do you have any practical advice you would like to share with aspiring CHH artists?
The best advice that I can give anyone pursuing music is to 1) Be comfortable in the lane that God has you in. Comparing yourself to others will ultimately hurt you and create discontentment in your heart. Learn to be faithful in front of a crowd of 20 people and if it's God's will to give you a crowd of 2,000 people or 20,000 people you will have proven your ability to handle the small things first. 2) Don't be lazy with your gift and your craft. Regardless of your genre you should be writing/ practicing everyday and setting goals for yourself. Last year I set a goal to write 3 songs a month which is almost 40 songs written within a year. Even if I didn't use the songs I still wrote them so I can get better at my craft. There is a difference between a person who likes the idea of doing music and a person who actually wants to do music. You have to discipline yourself if you are truly committed to doing music as a career or as a ministry. You never get better by accident. It's only with consistent practice and constructive criticism that you become better and that's with anything not just music.
That is great advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! It was great to get to know you a bit, sounds like God is doing some amazing things!
Want to keep up to date on what is happening with Elohin?
You can follow him on Social Media!
Check out "On My Knees" off of "Boom Bap Soul" on Spotify!
We were blessed to have some time to catch up with the one and only J-Notez. At Tentmaker we have lots of interactions with beat makers and J-Notez is one that for sure stands out. His production and beat making skills are on point, there is no denying that, but it was his depth of character that really makes him stand out to us. J-Notez loves Jesus and it is evident in how he conducts himself. There is seemingly no separation between his life as a beat maker and his life as a follower of Christ, and we believe that is how it should be. "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
When did you come to know Jesus and start following Him? Can you share a brief bit of your testimony?
"I’ve been following Jesus since the summer of 2010. After graduating high school (literally by the grace of God) I was invited to Church by my best friend and decided I needed to go. Previous to that God was already removing me from a life of selling marijuana along with other things and little did I know he was about to change my whole life from the ground up. The Church I went to was the same Church where I felt God calling me at 14-15 years old but decided to fight at that time to pursues life I thought I wanted. During the service I lost interest extremely quick and decided to step out to smoke a cigarette (something God delivered me from almost 8 years ago, praise Jesus!) then returned after to be unphased by the word. As the weeks went by I was continually invited back to church by my best friend and though I wasn’t interested I kept going back until one day God made it clear and I knew that it was time to trust Jesus with everything! I’ve been walking this faith walk going on 9 years and though it’s been hard I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!"
Wow, praise God! That's awesome! Thanks for sharing!
How long have you been making beats and why is that something you started doing?
"I’ve been making beats for 9 years on and off but 4 years consistently. I got into making beats because I’ve always loved music. I was always that kid in school who would knock on tables to make beats before I was introduced to how the beats on the radio where actually made. Though I never made beats before God saved me, after coming to know Him as Savior God began to stir that desire back up in me. One night while praying, I was asking God what I was to do with my life, and He made it clear that I needed to go to the garage in my moms house, that's where I found a cord I had never seen before that ended up powering my midi keyboard which came with no power source (Thanks a lot eBay )!! After that I knew exactly what I needed to do but it wouldn’t be easy!
What are some of your short term and long term goals as a beat maker or just in general?
"My short term goal is to be a part of the CHH (Christian Hip-Hop) industry as an independent artist and to be able to go full time in my music career using my beats and musical abilities to point people to Jesus. My slogan is Deeper Than Music so that’s what I live out. Also I hope to be home with my family doing music instead of being away due to a 9 to 5!
My long term goal is to use my income from my music to create a ministry to feed the homeless or something of the sort. Not sure of what the details are just yet but I’m trusting God will lead me in this when that time comes. I also hope to be the best father to my kids, husband to my wife, and be continuously leading them to Christ. I long to be the Father I wish I had growing up and Husband I never saw lived out in my parents marriage."
What is something about you that you think people might find to be odd?
"I couldn’t think of anything weird that I do so I asked my wife, probably not the best idea lol. She had to think about it but then eventually she starts roasting me saying I pace back and forth when I’m having a serious conversation on the phone and that I open and close doors, grab things to mess around with and walk in and out of rooms."
That's not to bad, I mean if that's the oddest thing she could think of than you're doing all right! Though we did find it hilarious that your wife started roasting you! Marriage is fantastic!
Who is your favorite musician (artist or band) of all time?
"It’s hard to say a certain musician, artist or band is my favorite. Different artist speak to my life in different seasons. To name a few all time favorites: Lecrae, Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, Scott Storch, Linkin Park, Hans Zimmer, 2pac, Hillsong, NF, KB and so many more."
That's a pretty eclectic list, dope!
If you were to name a Spotify playlist after your life, what would you call it, and what would be 3 songs you would include on that playlist?
"My Spotify playlist name for my life would be called Hills and Valleys and 3 songs on it would be
1. Andy Mineo “Tug Of War”
2. Aaron Cole “Patient With Me”
3. Elevation Worship “Do It Again”"
What would you say is your life verse, and do you have a favorite book in the Bible?
"My life verse is Philippians 4:8 and my favorite book of the Bible is Romans!"
Last question, what is one piece of advice that you would share with an aspiring Christian beat maker?
"Keep God first. If your music is about you then your success will breed selfishness. Also, one practical piece of advice I never hear anyone say but is so crucial, is get out of debt and if your not in debt stay out of it. Then, use that money to further invest into bettering your craft and marketing yourself. So many people focused on buying other things (I’m guilty of this as well though I have improved incredibly) instead of using that money to continue to build their career."
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, and I also want to thank those of you who have taken the time to read this! Till the next time, God Bless!
Check out "Rebel" by J-Notes. You can listen to all his beats at jnotez.com