Born and raised in Oceanside, CA singer, songwriter, and rapper John Lawrence Givens concentrates his talents in Hip Hop, R&B, and neo-soul music. Whether he’s going by his stage name John Givez, or sometimes Juan Dando, he knows how to set the mood and empower his loyal fans. The 24-year-old rapper doesn’t just spit rhymes, his lines are incredibly thoughtful and passionate, and come from a deep place in his heart.
Just last August (2015) he released his sophomore album, Soul Rebel, which was inspired by his experiences growing up surrounded by gangs and prostitution. Similar to his first record, Four Seasons, his messages are centered around encouraging his listeners. In a segment from DX Daily, Givez points out that it was his upbringing “in a home with faith and good morals to live by” that helped him stay grounded in his life. Staying true to his beliefs, the rapper constantly tries to portray positivity through his music to those who had it rough growing up, or to anyone who might need to hear those words of encouragement.
“I wanna be the voice of reason that can hopefully bridge all that chaos for the person that just doesn’t, is not down with church, not down with any of that organized religion, any of that. They’re just, they’re just out here and they believe that God is real, but they have these terrible examples of who God is and their father maybe failed them. They got anger towards authority. It’s just, it’s reality, bro and I think a lot of us are too scared to talk about it sometimes. But I’m not gonna shy away from it anymore.”
Following the release of Soul Rebel, the lyricist published an open letter centered on Christian Hip Hop. He shared his story of how he grew up in a Baptist church but eventually rebelled. During his rebellion he was looked down upon and treated like an outsider. Around the age of 18, he found his way back to his “true Journey with the Lord.” What makes Givez’s journey so special isn’t that he’s an unflawed follower of God, but a man who wishes to spread light and positivity through his well-thought out verses even though his actions may not always be perfect.
“God didn’t give me a platform to be perfect. He gave me a platform to be genuine. My motives are not off. My motives are focused on being genuine in all that I do,” he writes, “I’m not doing this for God, I’m doing it WITH God & by His power. And don’t try to shut me up ’cause I’m not going anywhere. And I’m gonna tell my story to the world(ly).”
To be labeled and viewed as a Christian, or any other religious title, in the world of live entertainment can sometimes be a tough road to travel. When an artist is more neutral with their beliefs, their chances of offending their fans becomes increasingly less. However, this is something that should and is already slowly changing. Any person, especially those with a higher following, should be able to freely express themselves through any platform they choose. Whether it’s through an interview, a song, a picture, or even a Tweet, words of empowerment should be encouraged and not judged so harshly.
If you’ve never heard, here it is! Enjoy!