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Jelly Roll: Son of a Sinner | Who wrote Son of a Sinner?

Jelly Roll’s single Son of a Sinner — Who wrote Son of a Sinner?


When Jelly Roll was coming up on the Nashville music scene, it was easy to write him off.

He had the classic Tennessee twang, and the kind of southern pedigree that would have made him a hot commodity on the country music scene.

He had the charisma and charm to win audiences over and captivate crowds.

He had the rock edge to his vocals to make him stand out from the crowd and capture something original.

The X factor, we tend to call it now.

But instead of being what music execs wanted him to be, Jelly Roll decided to be different: he became a rapper.

And not just any rapper. He has collaborated with Lil Wyte, found himself on XXL’s list of white rapper collaborations, and joined forces with Eminem.

Then Jelly Roll—real name Jason DeFord—decided he wanted a change.

When the Nashville country music scene was crying out for something new, Jelly Roll delivered, alongside Ernest—Jelly Roll’s writing partner on Son of a Sinner.

From rock to rap to country crooner, it’s starting to look like there’s nothing Jelly Roll can’t do.

So what else do we know about this Son of a Sinner?

The Origin Story

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Jason “Jelly Roll” DeFord was born on December 4, 1984, in Antioch, Tennessee.

A true Nashville boy, Jason was the youngest of 4 kids.

DeFord is always quick to acknowledge that he had a good dad—“the greatest,” according to him.

He worked in the family business as a meat salesman for DeFord Wholesale Meats and provided well for his family.

Jason’s mother struggled with her own issues, including problems with her mental health and a lifelong addiction.

DeFord remembers times when his mom would sit in the kitchen and listening to country music. “It was probably the only time she was really happy,” he notes.

The impact music had on Jason’s mother didn’t fly under the radar for him.

In fact, it was the biggest motivation he had to become a musician—he just had to get through his teen and early adult years first.

A Bumpy Road to the Top

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DeFord grew up knowing that life was hard.

Despite his dad’s hard work and ability to provide a better life than some in the community around them, Jelly Roll saw how things were.

“My mother didn’t have [expletive], nobody had [expletive]. Anyone who did get it from drugs.”

So Jelly Roll sold drugs.

He also experimented heavily with them, taking Xanax, cocaine, codeine, and cough syrup consistently.

He got so deep into drug addiction, he says, that he has now lost whole years of his memory.

The turning point in Jason’s life came when he was sitting in his prison cell, and an officer came to let him know his daughter had been born.

He vowed then and there that things were going to be different.

Jelly Roll, The King of Rock…or Rap…or Country

who wrote son of a sinner

Jelly Roll and Bunnie Xo attend the “Jelly Roll: Save Me” Documentary World Premiere – @Getty

Jelly Roll didn’t make his name in the music industry at Nashville’s honky tonks.

Drawn to hip-hop culture and rap music, he released the 2010 YouTube hit Pop Another Pill with Lil Wyte.

After garnering major attention online with that video, he joined SNO to release Year Round—the group’s debut album—in 2011.

Then came The Big Sal Story mixtape, collaborations with Haystak, Struggle Jennings—nephew of Shooter Jennings.

Gradually, Jelly Roll started leaning into his country music roots.

He scored a No.1 hit in May of 2022 with Dead Man Walking and was about to go big with Son of a Sinner.

Jelly Roll: Son of a Sinner

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Jelly Roll’s foray into country music started off strong with the first single release.

Dead Man Walking officially secured the top spot on the radio—a huge coup for an independent Nashville artist who just spent a decade and change in the rap genre.

Following the single’s success, Jelly Roll took to social media to celebrate with fans and followers. “Coming from where I came from…this is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.”

Son of a Sinner and Sober, two more songs that have garnered massive success on the album, address the same issues that made Dead Man Walking such a runaway winner.

DeFord says these are songs about extremes.

“The thing about the addictive personality is that everything is all in. Especially [with] songs like Son of a Sinner, I’m trying to say there can be a balance.”

A New Direction

Son of a Sinner may hail the beginning of a new chapter for Jelly Roll, who has learned that he can fit into multiple molds—or none at all.

His music features elements of rock, hip-hop, and country and creates a sound that is 100% unique.

Some kind of eclectic blend of Chris Cornell and Shooter Jennings, Eminem, Fred Durst, and Sublime’s Bradley Nowell—the message here is: you never know what you’re going to get from Jelly Roll.

Jelly Roll’s musical direction is a bit like his style, in that regard.

The artist admits that he dresses like a rocker, wears boots like a Nashville boy, and is drawn to the bling like every other rapper.

Fortunately, BMG Nashville was looking for something new.

Jon Loba, its president, was hoping for a “country Post Malone.” YouTube—and specifically Jelly Roll—delivered.

READ MORE: Sarma Melngailis Net Worth

Learning Lessons

what is son of a sinner about


Clearly, writing and releasing hits is a fait accompli for Jelly Roll—in any genre he tries his hand at.

What seems to give the rapper-turned-rocker inspiration are his own family struggles.

DeFord—a happily married father of two—has recently celebrated the return of his baby mama (and one-time casual girl) after her battle with heroin addiction.

He has celebrated his own sobriety.

He has watched his mother’s steady but consistent battle with addiction and mental health issues.

He has spent time in prison.

He’s lost people he loves.

He has suffered real failures and real struggles and used them all to send a message of hope to his fans.

did jelly roll write son of a sinner

Bunnie Xo and Jelly Roll attend the 2023 CMT Music Awards – @Getty

Who wrote Son of a Sinner?

So, who wrote Son of a Sinner? “Son of a Sinner” is a song written by Jelly Roll in collaboration with Ernest Keith Smith and David Ray Stevens. It was inspired by Jelly Roll’s personal experiences with drug addiction and life on the road as a musician.


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Steve Kasian

Wednesday 7th of February 2024

What a joke. Dude is a friggin clown.