From the outside, it looks like Jelly Roll is riding high.
And there’s no doubt that he is: The rapper-turned-country star, whose real name is Jason DeFord, had one of the biggest years of anyone in country music in 2023. He scored three #1 singles off the success of his debut country album, Whitsitt Chapel, he had a sold out tour, he took home the CMA Award for New Artist of the Year, and he was nominated for two Grammy Awards.
But even with all that success, Jelly Roll has been open about his inner demons and his struggles with mental health.
The superstar has talked a lot about his past, spending nearly a decade behind bars after being arrested for armed robbery at the age of 15. And he’s admitted that he’s also had to overcome battles with addiction, saying that he “had to learn that you could drink alcohol without doing cocaine.”
And in an interview with the New York Times Popcast podcast, he talked about the challenges he still faces when it comes to mental health:
“As jovial as I am in real life, the music is a reflection of a very, very dark hallway between my ears. It’s the scariest place on earth for me. I dread going to sleep every night. The ghosts are there.”
But he also admits that his life is different now, and that he hopes to incorporate his love that he shares with his wife Bunnie Xo into more of his music:
“I’m going into my eighth year of marriage and I’ve never been more in love. I just want a wedding song — I’ve had so many funeral songs. I want to showcase that there are highs in life, too, and I want to figure out a way to incorporate them in the music.
But ultimately, you know what I write about, and you know who I write for.”
In a time when so much of what we see from our favorite artists is perfectly curated by a PR company for social media, it’s always refreshing to hear artists who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and open up on their own struggles along the way.
Life’s messy. Everybody deals with the same kinds of struggles, no matter how perfect their life may seem from the outside.
And Jelly Roll’s never been one to shy away from that – which is just one reason he’s got so many fans out there who can relate to him and his music.