Today, I’m going to talk to you about a song released in 2023 called “Need A Favor.” This song hit home for a lot of people, and the artist who wrote it is racing up the proverbial popularity ladder, so I thought it best to dig deeper into his story and his music.
His name is Jason DeFord, but his fans know him by his stage name, Jelly Roll.
A nickname adopted from his mother, Jelly Roll was born in Nashville in 1984 and began making music back in 2005. But his road to fame has been anything but easy.
In his early 20s, Jelly Roll served some time in prison for drug dealing. While his music touches on this part of his past, it also delves into his former substance-abuse problems, drug-related losses and the desire for positive change amidst life’s difficulties.
Jelly Roll doesn’t shy away from any of these topics, nor is he afraid to let fans learn a bit about his personal life: He often gushes over his teenage daughter and young son. He also praises his wife, Alyssa DeFord, known as Bunnie XO, for her commitment to him and his children.
And his music seems to resonate with people. Jelly Roll’s spotify channel boasts over 10 million monthly listeners, he has more than 2 million followers on Instagram and over 3 million subscribers on YouTube.
I think it’s because his songs can be heartfelt, occasionally gut-wrenching and brutally honest, just like “Need A Favor.”
This track finds Jelly Roll asking God for help, but admitting that he only comes to God when he’s desperate.
This song is strangely beautiful. Yes, there are a few profanities in the mix, but the heart of this song is one that, I’m sure, resonates with a lot of people. Especially those who find themselves in desperate situations.
Jelly Roll realizes that he needs “a favor” from God when the girl (or woman) he loves is in trouble.
But he’s stuck. He doesn’t know what to pray (“and I don’t know what to say by the time I fold my hands”) and he feels ashamed because, although he understands God is the only one who can help him, he’s only now calling out to God because he’s in trouble (“Hard cover King James only been savin’ dust on the nightstand/I only talk to God when I need a favor”).
Still, he tells God that he will “pay” for all he’s done, just as long as this person he loves is saved (“Hangin’ in there, just barely/Throwin’ up prayers, like Hail Mary’s/If You’re still there, Lord, spare me”).
In addition, the video for this song is heart wrenching. It shows a dad coming to visit his cancer-ridden daughter in the hospital as he cries out to God on her behalf.
Jelly Roll curses as he wonders aloud, “who the h— am I/To expect a Savior/If I only talk to God when I need a favor?”
He also admits that instead of attending church on Sundays, he’s most often inebriated (“I know ‘Amazing Grace’, but I ain’t been livin’ them words/Swear I spend most Sundays, drunk off my a–, than I have in church”).
I’m in no way praising this song as a whole. And clearly, the song has theological issues and profanity to navigate.
But it’s the kind of song that feels spiritually and emotionally desperate. That recognizes that only in our weakness can we, through God, be made strong. That understands that we were made for a Savior, even when we don’t realize it.
It’s the sort of thing that I assume many think when they feel far from God. They come to a point of desperation and realize that they need Him, all while wrestling with the shame of treating God like a genie. A magical, make-it-all better deity.
I know I’ve been there, and so I appreciate an artist that can be open with their thoughts and inner struggles.
This song has its issues, and it’s not for little ears, but I think it’s something that adults can appreciate, even if they choose not to stream it.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).