John Bryan is an expansive hip-hop artist born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He creates music that he hopes will touch people on a personal level. Not without his own struggles, John Bryan didn’t have a great relationship with his parents growing up and looked to other sources for comfort and safely. He became entrenched in his own struggles until he found God, who showed him grace, love and mercy. John Bryan makes music for change, not dollars.
John Bryan’s single “Saved By Thorns” is about exactly what the title insists. John was saved by God when he was at his lowest. This realization has changed his life for the better as he is reminded everyday that Jesus loves him. “Saved By Thorns” featured highly addicting instrumentals, a melodic hip-hop beat and John Bryan’s killer verses. He speaks his truth and his authenticity shines through. Raw and emotive, John Bryan describes his important relationship with God. After going through what John went though, it’s extremely admirable for him to share his vulnerable story with other in an effort to make a difference. Bravo, John Bryan! Stay on the lookout for the inspirational and ambitious John Bryan.
Check out “Saved By Thorns” here and read more in our exclusive interview below!
Can you tell us how you first got started with music?
I always loved music since a baby. My Dad actually taught me my first rhymes. I really came around to music more heavily when I was in middle school. It was a hard time for me because my mom and Dad split. My outlet was my headphones. You could barely catch me without them. I started writing seriously at 17 after I established a relationship with Jesus. And I’ve been developing as a musician and an artist since. I would say I’ve been developing more as a musician within the past 2 years.
You're a talented singer/songwriter! Do you play any instruments as well?
Yes! I play drums. Drums are my first instrument. I started playing at 13 however never owned a kit so practicing was challenging. I learned some basic stuff on piano maybe 5 years ago and have been trying to challenge myself more with that instrument.
Can you tell us more about the meaning behind “Saved By Thorns”?
I’ve been in recovery for an addiction to pornography since I was 13. In recovery we recite the serenity prayer every meeting. In one of those lines it states, “enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.” I’ve been through a lot in life. And I see my life’s wounds and scars as thorns in my flesh. God has been steadily working me through a deeper level of self awareness and I’ve concluded that peace does not come from avoiding pain. Rather peace comes through embracing pain head on and allowing the process of healing to start. Jesus himself had to suffer His thorns. The suffering he bore was for our spiritual peace. So when I engage my pain and trauma I don’t have to be afraid of it. What I’ve done to people is forgiven. What people have done to me is forgiven. The blood covers it all. But as I journey inwardly, into my soul, I’ve learned I’ve allowed so many past hurts to fester. My way of dealing with my pain was akin to the fig leaves Adam and Eve covered themself with. They hid their physical shame but internally they were still filled and riddled with shame. They were no longer naked but they decided to hide their shame the best they knew how. This song is about looking at my shortcomings, dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety financial stress, my attempt to control God By bartering my focus on him, looking at my shame, looking at where shame was covered, the cross of Christ, and accepting that pain as the anchor to my soul in my internal wrestle.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Why?
Growing up I loved Eminem. As I grew older I became huge Jay-Z fan. But I loved rock music too. For example Linkin Park, Disturbed and others. These artist helped me emote and deal with frustration and block out the world. After my renewed faith I became heavily influenced by Christian Rap, Gospel music and Christian contemporary. early on I listened to guys like Flame and Lecrae and then got into an artist named Swoope. They were the replacement for the other music I used to demonized. These days I have many musical influences. Some Christian and some not. As far as rappers, I love J Cole, Kendrick, Chance, Eshon Burgundy and a few others. But musically I am really widely influenced, jazz, fusion Jazz, Indie. I really enjoy this band Snarky puppy. These days I listen to what can better me as an artist and a person in some way.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as an artist? How have you overcome those challenges?
One of my biggest challenges is not believing that my using matters because it’s not good enough. I then feel like I have little value. What helps me with this is processing this feeling further. I’ve narrowed down that I feel this way about my music at times because I feel this way about myself. This struggle also comes on the heels of a lot of rejection, doubt and fear of unknowns. I never met my biological Father and my adopted Father kicked me out at 18 for not taking his side in a feud between my Mom and him. He actually missed my High School and College graduations and my wedding. We aren’t on good terms right now because of how vocal I am about my past hurts. I had a traumatic experience at 14 working at a Summer Camp. My mother moved to Florida while I was in New York working at a Camp but she never told me we were moving. I’m overcoming these challenges by walking through my baggage. Making these songs help me release these moments of pain and they free me up a bunch. I also know that if people hear they’ll likely be moved to a measure of freedom. Knowing that my life’s hurts are not only used for my own good to keep me grounded and humble, but also the good of others helps me stay motivated to keep making music as God has called me to. All in all my music is a call not just a hobby and I know the impact it can make. I overcome these obstacles by continuing in recovery group, staying accountable to close friends and family, journaling, and reminding myself two really big things, God loves me fully just the way I am and That I matter to Him.
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