KW Stories -

5.2 things you didn’t know about KJ-52 —

By Becca Haines

Created on 09/12/2019

KJ-52 was born Jonah Sorrentino in Miami, Florida. He currently lives in Tampa, Florida, where he entered the hip-hop world in the early 2000s.

He’s made appearances with several mainstream Christian bands such as Newsboys, Toby Mac and Jeremy Camp, while receiving many awards for his music – even earning a team spot in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for the longest freestyle rap of all time (12 hours and two minutes).


Junior high students had a blast with him on the 2019 Believe tour. Not only does he bring a high-energy presence to worship on stage, but he also took time between main sessions to hang out with kids and even play some games. He’s a man with a deep connection to God and a great story … and he’s full of hidden secrets. Here are 5.2 things you didn’t know about KJ-52:


1. He’s pursuing a ministry degree. That’s right, between shows and tours and recording sessions, this very successful Contemporary Christian rapper is pursuing a degree in church ministry. He’s only six courses away from completing his degree. In fact, by the time you read this he may have already graduated from West Coast Bible College in Dallas, Texas.


2. He takes his music to juvenile detention centers. When KJ was first in Bible college and his music started to take off, some of the juvenile detention centers across Florida started playing it to the young people there as a way of being a positive influence on their lives. Because hip-hop is a genre that translates well to young men, KJ encouraged this outlet for his music, and continues to do so to this day. He even has plans to do a Christmas tour at some of the 20 detention centers in Florida. “When I go to a jail with kids who don’t know me – or care – there’s no immediate reward,” he said. “There’s nothing to inflate your ego. It’s a way to re-center back to what the whole purpose is in the first place. I don’t mind being the voice for those kids.”


3. His last three albums and a documentary about his life were all crowd-funded. KJ isn’t hesitant to tell you that his career still exists to this day because of his fans. The young people he was connecting with as many as 20 years ago who are adults now still love his music and believe in his platform to share the Gospel … so much that they have funded much of his most recent work.


4. He made a Christmas album and a book. Yes, rappers can make Christmas albums, too. And KJ said he was eager to show people a new kind of Christmas music that still brings glory and honor to Jesus and the story of His birth and His gift of salvation to the world. As for his book … anyone who has spent any time with KJ knows that he tells a lot of stories. It’s not unusual to hear him say, “So what happened was …” – and that’s what he called his book. He said it's filled with crazy stories from his life, written in such a way that it feels like it’s just him and the reader sitting together swapping stories with each other.


5. He loves street art. KJ grew up in an artist home, and for many years art represented poverty, divorce and brokenness to him. Despite those feelings, he has “messed around with art forever,” albeit not professionally. But he said hip-hop re-contextualized art for him and over the past couple of years he’s taken it more seriously. One of the detention centers even commissioned him to create some art for one of their walls.


5.1 He loves working out and training for the stage. Not only does KJ set a high standard for himself as a performer, but he also likes to challenge himself physically and mentally. He said he pushes himself off-stage because he knows it will benefit what he does on stage.


5.2 He’s totally a family man. KJ is married, and he and his wife have three boys – ages 11, 7 and 3. His wife wants another child, he said – hopefully a little girl. But every time he thinks about another child he remembers how one of his boys spray-painted the house, how another set his room on fire, and how all three of them have broken the family television at some point. He calls them his “little wolf children.” … “You see what I’m up against?!?!” he said. “I joke, but I love my kids!”