Hip-hop and rap music have become particularly mainstream over the past two decades, with artists like Eminem, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Drake, Migos, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Future pushing it to the forefront. However, Christian hip-hop still lingers outside the spotlight, despite prominent artists like Kanye West making Christian hip-hop and gospel-inspired albums in the past few years. Michael Nunez, the versatile rapper more popularly known as L-OH-L, is an artist who started as a secular rap star, but God had intended a different path for him, and, as a result, he ventured into Christian hip-hop.
Music didn’t run in the family for L-OH-L. He wasn’t a prodigious musician growing up, nor did he personally know anyone who was a musician. His stepdad played in a zydeco band. Moreover, he also still performs for the worship team at his local church, but that was it. So instead, his musical inspiration stems from artists like Aha Gazelle, Dee-1, and Xay Hill. He found their music incredibly relatable and decided he also wanted to use music to tell his story.
Born and raised in Lake Charles, LA, L-OH-L had dreamed of being a rapper since he was eight or nine and would grab a brush or any other object he could find and rap in front of a mirror. He would even go as far as to tell his mother that he would one day be a rapper. After attending high school, this talented artist decided to join the military, where he served in the Iraq war. Unfortunately, he would get severely injured while stationed there, resulting in permanent disability.
Coping with the harsh realities of war and his disability was challenging for L-OH-L. He turned to gangbanging. In addition, he and his friends would regularly steal and spend money on consuming drugs to numb the pain. Thus, it was apparent that he was headed down a dark road. He also became a single father, but he slipped into what he knew, emulating his father, who was never the best example and was rarely around.
Eventually, the rapper was incarcerated in 2018 and his time in prison was the reality check he needed to get his life together. During this period, he also discovered religion and credits his turnaround to God. L-OH-L states, “God changed my heart and saved me. I was a horrible human being who only cared about money. Thankfully, God had other plans for me. I’m a product of grace.”
In fact, this experience caused L-OH-L to leave prison as a reformed man. He disavowed his old music, calling it trash, even though one of his first five singles received significant airplay on FM radio and was played by DJs at numerous nightclubs. However, that didn’t mean much to him because he felt that his old music didn’t accurately represent him. Instead, he wanted to make healing, peaceful music for people who had lost their way.
As a result, L-OH-L describes his music as being for gangsters, prostitutes, killers, and addicts who have experienced rough life. He doesn’t believe people who have never lived rough lives will relate to it. Nevertheless, he wants to do his part by making the world a better place through the only way he knows how, and that’s music.
This versatile rapper has surely paved the way for himself in Christian hip-hop and gospel music and believes that there is still a long way to go. His new EP, Punch Lines and Parables, aims to help people find their path by getting them closer to God. He believes repenting and believing in the gospel is crucial for getting on the right path, and that’s exactly what his music encompasses.