JahRock'n Studios, a recording facility located inside Brooklyn, New York's Park Slope Tabernacle Christian church provides a place for both Christian and secular artists to record music.
The studio, which has been an active business for over a year, has hosted Christian artists such as Andy Mineo, HeeSun Lee and MC Jin, along with many aspiring rappers and singers from NYC and other areas.
Chris Belmont, the head of JahRock'n productions, previously operated the studio at a different location until his partner, and "God Belongs In My City" prayer walk pioneer Daniel Sanabria, suggested he move the studio into the church he was now using as a base for the movement.
"He knew the power of music and ministry together, and he wanted to somehow facilitate that in his church so we started talking about it and it actually happened in February 2013," Belmont told The Christian Post.
Belmont and JahRock'n produced the theme song by Andy Mineo for "God Belongs in My City" by the same name, which is how they first got acquainted.
"That's how [Danny] really [got] to see the power of a song and how much it fed the GBIMC movement," he said. "He wanted to be a part of that even more and use [music] as a tool for ministry."
JahRock'n studios extends an invitation to secular artists and allows them to create music with vulgar lyrics without any restrictions. Some Christians might view this as unacceptable within the confines of a church building, but Belmont and Sanabria use it as a way to reach out to them with the gospel.
"I look at [the studio as a ministry tool]," said Belmont. "I could just say we're a Christian company and we don't accept any other type of artist. But then [I would ask] how do people in the church get to the church? At some point someone had to have [extended] an olive branch out to them and want to work with them no matter what they believed in."
"Some people could look at it as us aiding in their sinning. Or they could look at [the studio] as a platform for community with people that don't believe what we believe. And that's how I look at it," he added.
Belmont uses the business as an opportunity to plant seeds in people that would probably never step foot inside a church. He also sets strict guidelines for these artists with a no smoking or drinking rule.
JahRockn's location inside Park Slope Christian Tabernacle, a place he considers to be the "Grand Central Station" for Urban Youth Mininstry, provides the business with a great place to network with pastors, missionaries and artists from all over the world. It even attracted the former battle-rapper-turned Christian, MC Jin, who recorded his last project with the studio.
"I think [JahRock'n] is awesome," said the rapper to The Christian Post. "I'm all about things being organic. I didn't set out to find a studio that was underneath a church, so that's not what keeps me going there. I don't think it has to do with the physical aspect. I think it's just the people working there and the people that serve at that church. That actually creates a [great environment for making music]."
Belmont admits that the idea for a studio in the church was met with a little bit of skepticism. Some people from Park Slope Christian Tabernacle expressed concerns over the nature of this type of business.
"[When people think of recording studios], they think of people hanging out, smoking and drinking," he said. "They were really just concerned about that and the rules of people being down there. I don't think anybody really denied the purpose behind the studio being down there. The [skepticism] was more about the rules of engagement."
Aside from the music, the studio has been a place where Belmont helps to develop artists sonically and spiritually. He told the story of Angie Rose, a singer/rapper who recently came to Christ.
"She is an artist that came to Christ months before I met her," he said. "She was definitely on the other side of the fence, and when we met her, and gave her the platform to express herself, and took her under our wing, it changed her whole life."
The ability to impact the lives of artists by teaching them more about God is the most gratifying thing to Belmont about JahRock'n. The covering of the church makes the studio the perfect environment for him to continue this work.