Josh Atkins, a 16-year-old Christian rap artist, will be featured Friday at a music festival in Buffalo. As a young artist, music has helped Atkins overcome struggles with mental health.
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By Timothy Frudd

Josh Atkins is just entering his senior year at Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School, though he is already making a name for himself in the world of music.

As a 16-year-old Christian rap artist, Atkins has performed more than 70 shows, recorded two music videos and is planning on releasing his first official album this fall.

The album Atkins is currently working on is called Reflections.

“It’s basically a reflection on myself,” Atkins said. “We all have our obstacles in life that we struggle with and that’s what makes us all different.”

As a Christian rapper, Atkins goes by the name Jk.A. His stage name means “Jesus Knocking Answer.”

Atkins said his stage name was originally formed with the initials of his name, Joshua Karl Atkins. However, after one of his first performances, his step-grandfather said his stage name should stand for “Jesus Knocking Answer.” Atkins decided to make this his performance name based on Revelation 3:20.

“That just kinda became the theme, that I centered the music around,” he said. “All the songs just kind of follow that message that he’s knocking at the door.”

Atkins is performing Friday at the Reaching the Unreached festival in Buffalo. He recently put together an unofficial album of his best songs to sell at the festival prior to the release of his first official album in the fall.

As an artist, Atkins hopes to inspire people to chase their dreams and to be their best.

“Another goal with music,” he said, “is to let people see how great God is and allow them to just see what he’s done in my life and what he can do in their life.”

Music is very personal to Atkins because of the way it has impacted his life.

“To a point, I guess I could say that music has saved my life,” Atkins said. “I’ve struggled with mental health and music has been my way out of that.”

Atkins said his best songs have been written during times when he was really struggling with his mental health.

“To sum it all up, a lot of my music is just about mental feelings,” he said. “A lot of my songs are about my mental health and my journey with God.”

Starting rap at the age of 6 or 7 and releasing his first unofficial album in fourth grade, Atkins said he quickly became one of the most popular kids in his elementary school and even signed up for America’s Got Talent. Despite gaining popularity at such a young age, Atkins said it was honestly quite fake.

While Atkins received early support for his music, he said his popularity started to significantly decrease as he grew older.

“It was quite a realization in my life for me,” he said.

The turning point for Atkins’ music came when he began sharing live videos of freestyle on the popular app TikTok and gained an audience.

“My career, my life, everything changed drastically because I got on TikTok,” Atkins said. “I know for a fact that God was the one pushing me to do it because it definitely go me to where I am now.”

The other major boost in Atkins’ music career came at his school talent show. Despite his doubts about people listening to his music, the audience began singing his lyrics, chanting his name, and forcing an encore performance.

“I think once I make it, honestly, I’m going to look back at when I did the talent show and when I started TikTok, because those were two huge moments that stuff changed. My perspective changed,” he said.

Following these two milestones in his music career, Atkins has seen his fan base dramatically increase. His music is now available on Spotify and Apple Music, where he continues to gain support for his music.

As a 16-year-old, fame has been an inward battle for Atkins. Being in the public eye has forced him to grow up faster because he started at such a young age.

With his popularity increasing, he often wonders how much of it is real or whether people are just trying to use him for his fame.

“It’s really gotten me to the realization that I can’t care what people think,” he said.

Whether people love or hate his music, Atkins wants to focus on making music out of his love for God and his desire to further his music career.

“The main message is just that Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and it’s up to you to answer,” he said.

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