There is no doubt that Japhia Life is ready to be recognized as an undeniably talented artist who is focused on reaching his musical goals. Born and raised on the streets of Philadelphia, Japhia is truly a diamond in the rough. When one observes his life and his experience as a musician, it becomes crystal clear that nothing will stand between him and the top of the industry. He is already well on his journey to the forefront of today's music, having become a flagship artist for Beatmart Recordings. Being the first artist signed to a brand new record label wasn't an easy task, but Japhia approached his mission from the heart and is now bringing us Fountain of Life, an album with the potential to become one of the truly great hip-hop records of our time.
But all great music must have a beginning, and Japhia Life's musical history is deeply rooted in both the streets and the hip-hop culture. "Music has always been in my blood," relates Japhia. "My mother was always singing and playing the piano while I was growing up. My family had a piano ever since I could remember, and I used to play the piano and sing in the church choir. When I reached ninth grade I learned how to rap, and even thought I was intrigued with hip-hop, I never thought I would be one on the inside of hip-hop. My friends encouraged me to keep rapping, and eventually I became good at it, at least according to those around me. I had the hype of someone who was nice like that."
As his career as an emcee began to grow, Japhia Life began to release music for the world to hear. His first offering, an EP named Pages Of Life, generated a significant amount of street buzz. Pages Of Life received critical acclaim, continuously drawing comparisons to the classic Nas album Illmatic. "After my EP Pages of Life was released, I got a lot recognition over the Internet on the undergound side of things," comments Japhia. But Japhia didn't stop there. He expanded his discography with his first album, Hell's Diary: The Healing LP, which instantly became a highly sought after record in the hip-hop community. Along with Pages of Life and Hell's Diary, Japhia is also constantly promoting his art on the streets through his mixtapes, having produced and distributed three independent mixtapes during his career.
This impressive work ethic soon began to draw attention from major record labels. The newly formed urban label Beatmart Recordings offered what Japhia Life was searching for, and soon he was on his way to Nashville, Tennessee to record his major label debut with Todd Collins, arguably the top producer in Christian hip-hop today. "Japhia Life and Todd Collins getting together is like 50 Cent and Eminem hooking up," says Japhia. "Todd Collins is a phenomenal producer, and when people hear Fountain of Life they're going to hear a wide range of stuff. I look at Todd like a Jermaine Dupri or a Puffy. Not all producers can make both good R&B and good hip-hop."
And what a combination is made on Fountain of Life. Starting with very first track, Japhia Life and Collins bring their best game to the project. "A lot of people know that Todd Collins and Japhia Life are really good at what they do," Japhia comments. "So when our two worlds collide, people are curious to see how it will taste. That's why this album is intriguing to people."
It's hard to help being drawn to Fountain of Life, with its stellar production and incredible lyricism. The album's twelve tracks are stuffed to the brim with potential singles, party jams, hood anthems, and emotional street ballads. "All I Know", one of the first singles from the record, is an uptempo, southern-flavored song with a catchy hook that will have you singing along in no time. "The song 'All I Know' is talking about my testimony; it's talking about being on a journey going from Philly to Nashville and how Nashville is another stop my highway to heaven. I explain how I got hooked up with Todd Collins, and I just take the listener on a trip with me. I invite them to come fly on a plane with me, to come chill with us, to come experience the whole Japhia Life and Beatmart merger," explains Japhia. Another song with much single potential is "Sunshine", a laid back, introspective track that discusses the day-to-day hardships of life. Japhia breaks it down further: "On my song 'Sunshine', I'm rapping over a happy type beat, but I'm rapping about people struggling. The hook really sums it up: 'It's gonna be another cloudy day / darks clouds in the sky but the sun is gonna shine'. I'm trying to be transparent."
It doesn't stop there, however. Japhia Life makes sure to bring something for your party as well. One listen to "Fire" and the whole place will go up. "I've got a song called 'Fire' that's featuring Rob Hodge," shares Japhia. "It's an uptempo party joint that has horns on it, and it's a good representation of how I'm trying to come with industry standard production or better. 'Fire' is talking about how we're up in a soldier's party, and how we're ready for whatever, because nothing can seperate us from the love of God." And if you love the bangers, don't worry, because when you want to bump something in your ride, Japhia makes sure you're prepared. Your trunk is going to be thumping with the song "Hurry", a serious banger that's produced by none other than dirty south hip-hop phenomenon Pettidee. "The beat is like dirty south and east coast combined," says Japhia. "Pettidee's on the chorus being all rowdy, and the song has a real drive to it. I wanted to do something with Pettidee and have it be a merger of our worlds. I want to do stuff that's not predictable." Another one of the not-so-predictable songs on the disc is "Preacher Man", a country influenced, guitar driven song with a subtle vocal sample. "Preacher Man" speaks about those who want to come to Christ but are pushed away by their perception of the modern church. If that song's not enough, cuts like "Joanna" and "Stained Glass Windows" all continue to have that personal touch that Japhia Life gives so well.
With such a broad reach with his music, Japhia has been an associate of numerous well known artists and producers over the years. Among some of the notable mainstream and underground producers Japhia has worked with are Todd Collins, Pettidee, Tony Stone, Frankie Cutlass, Domingo, Rob Hodge, Lee Jerkins, Jude Gavin, Saint Man, and Kid Classic. His collaborations with emcees and singers are no less impressive, including BEC Recordings rapper KJ-52, Gotee Records rapper Ahmad Jones (from 4th Avenue Jones), EMI Gospel R&B singer Antonio Neal, Cross Movement Records emcee Da' T.R.U.T.H., Beatmart Recordings artists Rob Hodge and Pettidee, former Forefront Records singer Donnie Lewis, and many high-profile Philadelphia artists including Tru Knowledge, J-Silas, Linkz Virus, S.O.G., and Baby Girl.
But when Japhia's not sharing the studio, he's probably sharing the stage with hip-hop's finest or making a special appearance at a record release party. He's performed alongside platinum and best-selling artists such as Salt (from Salt 'n' Pepa), The Cross Movement, Pettidee, Pigeon John, Todd Bangz, Corey Red & Precise, Rob Hodge, J-Silas, and Redcloud.
No matter where he is or who he's with, Japhia Life always has a firm grasp of lyrical concepts, and can uniquely communicate the struggles of life through his written word. "I've never tried to specifically do Christian rap," he says. "Ever since I starting rapping, I've always tried to rap about my life." This is very apparent throughout Fountain Of Life, where Japhia's passion shines through on each and every song on the disc. We'll let Japhia Life speak for himself and sum up what his music is all about: "The booth is my pulpit. I'm licensed by the Holy Spirit to go out and make disciples and be a fisher of men."