There are three reasons you may not know Jurny Big: he’s a gritty battle rapper, he’s old, and he’s Christian. Praised by his fans as the best Christian rapper ever, Jurny Big is known for his one-on-one competitions -- where one MC proves they're more skilled than another with intricate rhyme patterns, metaphors, and punchlines. The Southern California native got his start as a founding member of The Tunnel Rats, a supergroup collective of Christian battle rappers that formed after the Los Angeles riots in December 1992. Along with Jurny Big’s cousin Dax Reynosa -- the group’s architect and half of their duo LPG -- The Tunnel Rats released three albums including its seminal work, 2001’s Tunnel Vision.
The Tunnel Rats are harshly criticized by many peers for boasting in their rhymes and collaborating with mainstream artists like hip-hop scholar KRS-One -- something, hypocritically, many Christian rap artists also do.
Yet, despite Jurny Big’s revered status and current projects, he still stands in the shadows of Lecrae -- the genre’s biggest-selling artist -- whose 2014 record, Anomaly, opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. So while Lecrae gets high-profile performance slots, like on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Jurny Big receives fan love on Twitter and Christian rap’s long-running water cooler publication, Sphere Of Hip Hop. More, Lecrae represents one of a handful of young Christian artists (such as Andy Mineo) -- who have used the template established by The Tunnel Rats, and another early innovator, Soup The Chemist, to create pop-leaning hits that leave those original pioneers overshadowed or ignored. Read More Here
Most holy hip-hop fans from back in the day spent their time bumping tunes by the notorious Tunnel Rats crew - whether it was the Rats' Tunnel Vision album or solo albums from one of the many members of the crew. There was a lot of music coming from that camp, and there has been from Tunnel Rats members for about twenty years. In 2011, producer Peace 586 and emcee Jurny Big (who have worked together before, but not as a duo) have come together as The Battery. Their first release, One, comes from illect Recordings.
Jurny has a style you don't hear all too often in mainstream hip-hop these days - that west coast style that you usually have to go into the underground to find anymore. He doesn't really go too hard, as Peace keeps the beats relatively tame, but Jurny takes every opportunity to both flex his style and spit realness. One of my favorite tracks is "Pavlov's Dog," where he takes the beat and works it the way he needs to. The rhyme scheme is solid and, for lack of a better term, catchy (without the poppiness most commonly associated with the term "catchy"). Jurny isn't afraid to speak about his faith, but he also keeps it real and talks about not beating people over the head with Christianity. "Vincent Reynosa" is a good track too, but Jurny comes off as more of a poet here than a rapper, which comes from the beat. Half of the track lacks a beat, but just has some music in the background while Jurny speaks. This track features some more truth that I feel like sometimes Christian artists are afraid to speak ("'So how come that again' you ask, 'why it always come down to skills, why there ain't much ministry in what you spill, this bragging gonna kill the youth for real,' well to be honest it does less harm than the garbage you let fall, you target Christian kids cause they're not hard to please at all, in fact I know I have some fans if only be default, they heard I'm on a gospel label so they called....Jesus is my Savior, there I said it, but whether I did or not does not dictate where I'm headed").
The production from Peace 586 follows suit with Jurny's raps, in that he doesn't make beats that you'll tend to hear in mainstream hip-hop. If you're looking for something like Lecrae, Peace will shake you up. His beats are raw and street-worthy. The intro track is pretty slow, but once you jump into "The First 48," it's on. One of the interesting things about One is that each track, except "The Battery" and "Gray Beard," features two different beats. Shortly after Jurny finishes, the beat ends, and then in the same track, Peace brings a different beat that remains instrumental. It's almost like an interlude track after each rap song, but during the same track.
Jurny and Peace together are a wonderful combination, with rhymes and beats that just naturally go together. It's the kind of album that may take the listener a few listens to fully appreciate. But once it starts to get in you, you can't help but love it. Read More Here