THIS IS MY STORY
A Musical Journey
Joshua Casnave’s story is one of sin, redemption, and the music that connects the two together. Joshua, better known by his stage name TheBranch, is a spiritual rapper with a rapidly rising profile and a new album full of soul searching hip hop on the way. But getting to this point wasn’t easy. The mystical lyricism that currently defines TheBranch was informed by a lifetime of struggle, drug abuse, prison time, and eventually, a rediscovering of God’s path. Through it all, Joshua’s devotion to his music kept him from submitting to the darkness. He is a testament to how much a man can accomplish when fate, faith, and inspiration combine to put a man right where he is meant to be.
Joshua was born in the small town of St. Joe, Michigan on August 14, 1983. His family soon relocated to Niles, just outside of South Bend, Indiana, where he developed the love of music and art that would come to define his later life. Joshua would eventually grow up and relocate to Goodyear, Arizona to work at the Cleveland Indians Spring Training Facility. He got married his high school sweetheart Echo (Bailey) and had three sons. For a while, Joshua embodied the American dream life. It wasn’t long, however, until God began to test his faith. Over the next few years, Joshua began a downward spiral into a hell like existence, testing the very fabric of his soul.
Inexplicably dissatisfied with his life, Joshua began to turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. It started slowly, but in no time at all, these substances began to take control of Joshua’s every waking moment. Although his wife tried to rescue him, she found herself unable to deal with the man he was becoming, and soon she took their children and fled back to Michigan, leaving Joshua alone. Joshua thought he couldn’t get any lower, but little did he know, his trials were only beginning.
While his ex-wife was starting a new life with a new husband in Michigan, Joshua found himself spiraling out of control. When his substance abuse issues became so severe that he was unable to hold down a job, he found himself out on the streets. Joshua found himself facing the bleakest circumstances he could have faced. He began hustling to make ends meet while dealing with homelessness, spending long nights side by side with the other lost souls that populate the dark alleys most people never see. His drug dependency became worse, leading him to an endless series of nights spent in cold underpasses, damp motel rooms, and dirty alleys offering almost nothing for shelter.
Joshua may have thought he had hit rock bottom, but the Lord had prepared one more test for him to face. This test, well outside of ordinary situations, would force the young man to confront the darkest parts of his own soul, but it would also provide him with the path to redemption.
Simply put, Joshua began to hear demons speaking inside his head. Whether this was the result of years of heavy substance abuse, a message from God, or a figment of Joshua’s imagination is up to the reader to decide. But for Joshua, it was all too real. They began to manifest visually as well, jumping from person to person, unseen by everyone but the one soul they were determined to torment. This unceasing spiritual torture kept up for weeks, until finally, Joshua received the sign of his impending salvation that he so desperately longed for.
One night, deep in prayer, Joshua looked up to the sky to see an unusually bright star. The star aligned perfectly with his body, following him everywhere he went. As he stared upwards with astounded eyes, he saw that star stretch and expand, eventually overtaking the sky itself. It felt as if heaven had finally opened its doors to him. While he still had sins to atone for, this supernatural event cleansed Joshua of the demonic presence raging inside him, replacing it with heavenly guidance that would eventually show him the way back home.
For the crimes he had committed during his darkest hours, Joshua was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. This time proved to be a blessing, however, as it sowed the seeds of poetry and music in Joshua. He spent his free time writing as much music as he could, channeling his new found faith into an uplifting sound that could serve as a light to people in need. Joshua gave himself the moniker of ‘The Branch,’ and committed every fiber of his beings to writing the songs that would later become his debut album.
Music gave Joshua a new lease on life, but he still had unfinished business. Missing his family and filled with regret for the events that had transpired, he placed a call to his ex wife. As fate would have it, she and her new husband were in the middle of a divorce. Joshua took this news as a blessing, quickly reuniting with his family as soon as he became a free man. All that was left to do, was release the album he had been working on his entire life.
Appropriately titled ‘Servant Songs,’ TheBranch’s debut album is directly inspired by the spiritual journey that preceded it. Every verse is filled with hope and conviction, adding up to create a sound unlike anything in the modern music world.
Led by singles ‘Hallelujah,’ ‘Show The World,’ and ‘God Wit Me,’ TheBranch made sure his family was included on the record, with prominent vocal spots from his wife, Echo. It is almost impossible to listen to this record without being moved by the redemptive power of TheBranch’s storytelling.
“I share a lot of personal battles in this album in the attempt to reach a vast amount of people and to help inspire that hope, power, and victory spirit that is within us all,” Joshua says. That spirit of sincerity and salvation pervades every track on the album, and has set him on a path that can only lead to a better life.
Like many of the hip hop greats who came before him, TheBranch has lived an incredible life full of stories that range from strange to downright inspiring. Now that the worst of it is behind him, it is easy to envision him embarking on a long and prolific career in music. For now, however, TheBranch is content to make the most of every day, telling his story one song at a time.
TheBranch's album "Servant Songs" is out now and streaming on all major platforms including spotify/apple music/itunes/amazon music etc.