In a recent note to fans, rapper/author KJ-52 announced that he is currently working on his last project under the KJ-52 name. Jonah Sorrentino, better known as KJ-52, began his letter with thanks and gratitude to fans for their support over the last 20 years. As his swan song, KJ-52 will be releasing his final album and book, Victory Lap.
"I feel like this time of my life is my Victory Lap, I have crossed the finish line on many goals and aspirations that I've had as far as music and my ministry goes and now I'm in an incredible phase of my life. The Victory Lap is what a runner does as he celebrates for one more go around... he reminisces on all the things that got him there and enjoys that moment. He's exhausted, he's excited, he's relieved and he's thankful. That's where I'm @ right now... my victory lap. I've started working on my last kj52 album/book under this title, its a collection of stories as I look back on my life and career coupled with an album of songs inspired by those chapters (literally) of my life," KJ wrote.
Here is KJ's full announcement:
I posted these to social media but I wanted you guys to be in the loop also..
reason #1 the downturn in the touring market
Many of you have asked why is this the last kj52 album/book. The reality (wether we like to admit it or not) is that ageism reigns supreme in CHH. There isn't a place to grow old gracefully from a touring perspective.. I've been told in so many words that I'm to old (or been around too long) to get the "slots" anymore.
My core fanbase has been amazing (4 indie projects supported 200%) but with the downturn in touring and/or shows I'm just not getting the tours/shows/conferences like I used to (@ least not in a financially feasible amount). The sad reality is the longer you're around the less people demand you.. longevity is a gift & a curse.
CHH doesn't honor its pioneers from a touring perspective .. there's no legacy touring acts in the genre sad to say. People can say they want it but it comes down to the handful of gatekeepers.. (black & white) that control wether it happens or not
reason #2: Money
Sad to say but over the last five years Ive probably been burned to the tune of approx $100k (maybe more) by multiple organizations/people. I had a major youth ministry conference tour go out of business owing me 25K followed by a major business seminar go bankrupt to the tune of 25k ... a close associate didnt pay the proper royalties along w/ multiple other financial misappropriations that left me in severe financial debt.
Streaming has shifted the market to where we make .0006 (less than a penny) per play. 500k streams earns you less than $3k... people dont buy music the way the used to and it makes it increasingly harder to make music. When i post this the majority of you will say "thats terrible" but i would wager less than 1% of my fanbase will actually support my crowd funding @ www.kj52book.com
Dont get me wrong.. I'm grateful for any support i can get!!! Most of us however (Im to blame here too, I need to do better) support with clicks (streams, likes etc) vs. actual $. I've struggled to dig out the credit card/loans debt for the last 5 years and its finally taken its toll... God has been faithful to provide, but the reality most of us will scroll past this post and say "sorry to hear that" and not doing anything tangible.
I'm so grateful for all those that have helped though when I hit these low points... you know who you are and for that I'm so grateful. If you so feel led check out my final kj52 book/album @ www.kj52book.com all those funds go directly to me. If you fell led to make a donation you can DM me directly for that info.
Reason #3 we don't/won't or can't pay attention:
Case in point I've said multiple times that I'm retiring KJ 52 but I'm going to continue to make music .. the response is that 60% don't seem to catch that & think I'm quitting 30% are rebuking me obnoxiously & 10% actually get what I'm communicating.
I understand that it's a shocking statement but in reality is we're all becoming terrible at paying attention (I need to do better) People ask me for new music all the time but don't know that It've dropped 4 albums 1 side project 1 book 1 instrumental album and 1 documentary all in 2 years.
Some of my Fanbase think I'm still sitting around chugging Mountain Dew eating Coke fry cheeseburgers and working on dear slim part 3! Ha! I understand that music is a time capsule & that when you connect with somebody it's during a certain era of your lifetime and that keeps that artist frozen in time. I'm thankful and grateful to speak into anyone's childhood or anyone's progress through life.
But as an artist with longevity you're stuck between a rock and a hard place... You're known for one thing but because hip hop is always evolving you're striving to move forward but simultaneously you're being pulled backwards.
In a lot of ways some music fans are like kids with their hands over their eyes.. if they can't see you that must mean you disappeared...
I've come to the realization that I'm better off making music for my core fan base that gets it rather than getting frustrated over a peripheral casual fans who won't pay attention... (that's not a diss I get that there's a lot competing for our attention)
Sometimes it's not even our fault... social media has algorithms that hide a lot of the postings that we don't see. Either way I will continue to make music that glorifies God and reaches people whether or not people get it catch it or pay attention.
Thank you to everyone that does...
If you've been bothered to read this far ha.. please support my final kj52 book/album @ www.kj52book.com
Reason #4 Family:
I'm just going to cut to the chase here and share what Ive only told a few... a few years ago one of my kids was stalked and could've been potentially kidnapped. This happened when I was out on the road & mirrored an experience that I went through as a kid (plus it took me off the road for a month as we went through family therapy etc).
One of my deepest fears is that I'll be gone and a tragedy would happen... my boys are getting older now and the teen years are approaching. Boys need a father to help them navigate as adolescence approaches... it was easier to tour like crazy when they were young.. these days I want to anticipate any problems before they become a reality.
My sons are fearfully and wonderfully made, but if you know anything about raising kids @ times it can be a challenge enough for two parents... imagine trying to navigate that as one parent (my wife) when I'm gone for days at a time on the road.
I know that managing 100-150 dates a year w/ 3 boys and wife is going to get much more challenging as they grow up and I dont want to sacrifice my family on the altar of my "career".
I'll be deep diving into more of this in my final kj52 book/album which you can support @ www.kj52book.com
Reason # 5 I want to get back to why i started doing this music.
Just like this verse I did on @whosoeversouth new song "come together" i want to see us come together and be one. I'm not the type that says... "in my day it was better.." this genre that I'm in has always had its issues. For 30 years I've been a fan and as a creator and it has inspired me/guided me/shaped me and given me a platform. I'm eternally grateful for that but I want to get back to what drew me to it in the first place..
We started as misfit dysfunctional kids that didnt fit into the mainstream church but we were in love with Jesus and hip hop and wanted to change the world... i never want to forget that.
CHH has alway been an incredible catalyst for racial reconciliation and yet now in some ways the ugly sin of racism threatens to undermine all the progress it has made.
Some of those I started with have drifted away from the faith, while others continue to move from orthodoxy to 'anything goes'.
reason # 6: Full Time Ministry
I left full time inner city youth ministry to do the music back in 1999... over the last few years I've been blessed to serve in the capacities of College, Youth, Teaching and Communications Pastor (this has been on a part time/volunteer basis). Balancing road life and church life hasn't been easy and realistically has kept me from going full time into church ministry.
The last 3 years has stirred up and revealed gifts inside of me that I can't shake or deny.. I know the Lord is calling me back to where I started. For years I've alway thought that I had to choose.. music over ministry, ministry over music but I've realized that's not true... I'm retiring kj52 but not the music.
I've found a new passion in speaking + empowering younger believers and using my gifts to build up the local body. What this looks like specifically I don't know yet but I do know where God is tugging at my heart and I need to answer that.
I've been in this situation before.. God will reveal some of the vision and ask me to trust him with rest as it rolls out little by little. Prayers would be appreciated for clarity and patience (one thing I'm not great at) and that I would continue to hear His voice and that He would open the doors that I would walk through.
Join me on this journey for the last kj52 book/album @ www.kj52book.com (the final album drops 11.15.19 just for @kickstarter first)
I dont know what the answer is to these specifics but I do know that Jesus will alway be the final answer anything I face. I want to get back to mentoring, outreach and the purity of using Christian hip hop to reach people. I know that sounds weird by retiring "kj52" but the gospel isn't dependent on my "brand". I will be unpacking more of this in my final book/album "victory lap" ... you can support that by going to www.kj52book.com
Jonah (this isnt the end of music just the end of KJ52)
You can help fund KJ's final album and book, Victory Lap, at www.kj52book.com.