Usually when I listen to a new album, I sit down on the couch in my basement, put on a pair of headphones, and try to appreciate the artist’s efforts. But already knowing some of Jackie Hill Perry’s story, I felt like I needed to be out in the world to understand the story she was telling. Three things struck me as I walked:
First, I was reminded of how easy my life has been to this point. With each line of Jackie’s testimony, I felt more and more moved by the amount of grace I have experienced in my life. The music is good, the beats are solid, but God’s grace toward this woman leaves you praising God for His desire to save everyone.
Second, I was reminded of the woman who wept at the feet of Jesus and anointed His feet with oil in Luke 7:36-50. The Pharisees were quick to judgment, but Jesus sees the situation differently and states, ‘...Her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.’
Third, Jackie Hill Perry seems to have a very healthy view of her own life and her new mission as an ambassador for Christ. She doesn’t hide that she’s trying to persuade you to follow Christ. It’s the kind of refreshing honesty that skeptics burned by religion will appreciate when listening.
"She doesn’t hide that she’s trying to persuade you to follow Christ."
Not too many artists can come out of the gates with an album like this. She doesn’t shy away from taking on tough issues—issues from her own life. Growing up, Jackie was molested by a family friend, bullied in school, and fatherless, which led her into a lifestyle of rebellion, homosexuality, drug use, and porn addiction. At age 19, she realized that her lifestyle would ultimately be the death of her, but also, that her experience in that same lifestyle would bring hope and freedom to many others.
Although she is known for her powerful spoken word poetry, Jackie’s foray into the world of hip-hop is impressive. Tracks like “Miss Fearful” and “Dead Preacher” highlight her cohesive storytelling abilities, all the while dissecting and exposing the condition of the human heart. Other tracks like “The Solution” and “Get There” call attention to her masterful manipulation of multiple syllable structure and rhythmic cadences.
“The Art of Joy” is an album that will call you to introspection, reflection, and worship. Jackie Hill Perry’s thoughtfully painted portrayal of the Gospel directs the listener to seek out joy that is not dependent on our circumstances but on what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.