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Christian hip hop

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Title: Christian hip hop  
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Christian hip hop

Christian hip hop (originally Gospel rap, also known as Christian rap, Gospel hip hop, or holy hip hop) is hip hop music characterized by a Christian worldview, with the general purposes of evangelization (Christian mission work), edifying some members of the church and/or simply entertaining.


The first commercially released and distributed Gospel rap album was MC Sweet's 1982 album The Gospel Beat: Jesus-Christ, distributed by PolyGram Record, Inc..[1][2] And the second is Stephen Wiley's 1985 album Bible Break, distributed by Benson Music Group.[3][4][5] In the same year by David Guzman founded JC & The Boyz. Some of America's premiere Christian rappers, such as: Michael Peace, SFC, Dynamic Twins, MC Peace, and T-Bone came out of this crew. More commercially successful was the crew known as P.I.D. (Preachers in Disguise) who released five recordings. Michael Peace is an American rapper and one of Christian rap's first solo artists.

In the late 1980s, other crews emerged, including dc Talk, E.T.W. (End Time Warriors) and S.F.C. (Soldiers for Christ). ETW was lead by producer/artist Mike Hill who went on to pastor one of the largest inner city youth groups in the country out of Tulsa Oklahoma. S.F.C. was led by Chris Cooper who originally rapped as Super C (short for Super Chris / Super Christian) and later became Sup the Chemist and then finally Soup the Chemist. Christian emcee Danny "D-Boy" Rodriguez was another well-known early Gospel rap artist, but was murdered in 1990 in Texas.[6]

The 1990s saw the continuing trend of funky rap artists blending faith and rap, such as D.O.C. (Disciples of Christ) who emerged from Oklahoma as well as the Gospel Gangstaz from Compton and South Central Los Angeles, California. In 1991, JC Crew emerged spawning the careers of Maximillian (West Coast beat box champion) and T-Bone. Additional artists made a considerable impact on the Christian hip hop scene. Such artists that contributed were Dynamic Twins, Freedom of Soul, IDOL King, Apocalypse and both 12th Tribe and Holy Alliance who were produced by Scott Blackwell of MYX Records. S.F.C.'s (Sup, QP, DJ Dove) 1992 album Phase III was DJed and produced by DJ Dove, whose credits also include the Gang Affiliated, Gospel Gangstas' 1993 debut album.

Around the same time as Phase III, Dynamic Twins (Robbie and Noel) came out with their 1993 album No Room To Breathe. Freedom Of Soul (MC Peace, DJ Cartoon) followed with their second album, The Second Coming (Caught in a Land of Time was their first), also their last album as a group.

One of the major influences in the genre came with the formation of Gotee Records in 1994, co-founded by dc Talk member Toby McKeehan, better known as TobyMac, making it the first record label marketed explicitly for Christian hip hop and R&B that was backed by a major label. The label was among the first to market the Contemporary Christian music market through distribution at Christian bookstores and playing on Christian radio. This trend continued with other labels such as Tooth & Nail's Uprok Records and others that gave an outlet to hip hop artists who identified themselves as Christian and wanted a broader market. However, much of the sales of these Christian record labels was purchased by people brought up in the church, 70-80% of them being white.[7] Recently, a number of artists and labels such as End Of Earth Records, Rezurrected Muzic, Cross Movement Records, Grapetree Records, Syntax Records, Deepspace5 Records, Universal Funk Records, Illect Recordings, and The New Unstoppable Records have purposely tried to market more to people who did not grow up in church as well as more to urban markets.[8]

In addition, many major Gospel stars were getting in on the hip hop & rap genre. Kirk Franklin joined with the 1 Nation Crew in the album Kirk Franklin Presents 1NC.

Another element of the hip hop culture is the disc jockey, aka "deejay" or "DJ". In September 2009, the Higherground Record Pool (HGRP) and One Accord DJ Alliance (OADA) held their first Gospel DJ Conference at the Crowne Plaza, Queens, NY. The first known Gospel DJs were honored at the event. Kingdom Affiliates Record Pool (HGRP) also was represented at the conference. The next conference is planned for September 2011 in Atlanta, GA.[9]

Most recently Christian rap artists like Lecrae and his label-mates from Reach Records have been setting records with sales and award-winning albums.

Artists and style

Sometimes faith may be evident in part of a song or other times an entire song or album may focus on Christian beliefs. However, this does not always mean that the artist or their music is Christian. Examples include MC Hammer's No. 2 single "Pray"; Richie Rich and his first single "Don't Do It"; many of Tupac's lyrics and his first posthumous record, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, the image of Tupac nailed to a cross pinned him as a hip hop martyr; and even recent hip hop/rap artists like Jay-Z with Kingdom Come, DMX with "Walk With Me Now and You'll Fly With Me Later", Nas with God's Son and Kanye West with "Jesus Walks". However, these artists, although they may profess to be Christians, are not generally considered to be part of the Christian hip hop movement.[10] Some Christians believe that hip hop culture in any form conflicts with biblical teachings, while others consider hip hop to be a way of reaching the youth and mainstream culture.

Rappers such as Lecrae, BB Jay, KJ-52, Trip Lee, Tunnel Rats, LPG, Brethren, Manafest, GRITS, Hostyle Gospel and Skribbal, choose to be simply hip hop artists who are expressing themselves since they are Christian.[11] This also relates to the argument similar in Christian rock and other Christian music genres where some artists welcome being called Christian artists while others would not want it to be labeled as "Christian music" so to not tie them down to the Christian music market. Others see themselves somewhere in the middle, who may constantly acknowledge their faith in songs but are not typically considered Christian hip hop artists and see themselves as both preachers and entertainers and welcome acceptance in both the Christian music market as well as crossing over into secular markets.[12]

The record label, Ministers of the Underground, was one of the few labels to showcase Underground Hip Hop with the group "Secta 7". Original members included founders Apacalypse who began Christian underground hip hop in the early 1990s. Later this group would come to be known to like a "Christian Wu-Tang" and included prominent members such as Optixs, Blackseed, Lord Metatron, Righteous Knight, Kaoticgal who later was known as Keturah Ariel, O.N.E., The Final Chapter, A.T.O.M. the Immortal and Stress. Other groups who represented Underground Hip Hop included Atlanta's own Remnant Militia, D.I.R.T. and others. Underground Christian Hip Hop still paves the way for a more balanced style of music that would be easier to bring to tough places such as clubs, the street ministry or other hard to reach places that "regular" Christian Hip Hop would not go or reach. Ministers of the Underground was one of the top shows on Christian television to feature the CRU VENTION convention of Underground Hip Hop for Christ. CRU VENTION stopped its venues around the year 2001. The show, Ministers of the Underground was taken off the networks when Christian television opted for more orthodox style programming.

While many notable studios and artists share influence in holy hip hop, no one style dominates. Christian hip hop features all conventional hip hop styles, such as Midwest, West Coast (T-Bone) and East Coast (BB Jay), and Dirty South (Pettidee) and King Wes.

Christian hip hop is also embraced and performed in the United Kingdom, by Gospel rappers including, Melvillous, Jahaziel, Guvna B, Triple O, Sammy G, Simply Andy & Just C.

In the UK, Christian hip-hop is often merged with a music style known as Grime, which gives the music a different sound from American hip hop. Many would agree that Grime music originated in London's black community and is predominately described as a secular genre. Although British, Grime music has a strong Jamaican influence as many of the artists are of British-Caribbean heritage.

The GL Live music event 2010, held in the United Kingdom, saw a fusion of Christian rappers both American and British celebrate their faith together whilst demonstrating their own unique styles. The event was attended by Trip-Lee and Tedashi, who performed several songs during the event including Jesus Muzic and No Worries.

Reaction and acceptance


Christian music awards shows such as the GMA Dove Awards and Stellar Awards have added rap and hip hop categories.[13][14]


Rap Fest is an all day, outdoor, evangelistic outreach concert which takes place every summer. 2011 marked the 18th year for this event held annually in NY South Bronx area.

Flavor Fest Urban Leadership Conference is held yearly at Crossover Church in Tampa, Florida. Started by Pastor Tommy Kyllonen. the lead pastor of Crossover Church of Tampa.

Holy Hip Hop Founded By Danny Wilson & Eddie Valez

SoCity Fest conducts nationwide Gospel hip hop artist retreats, artists/industry conferences and new artists showcases, and is a traveling music festival organized to encourage and enrich holy hip hop artists in their ministries, while giving them insight on navigating the music industry.


There are differing views whether any form of hip hop can be considered Christian, but a consensus is that if the lyrics themselves have Christian teachings, then the song and music can be called Christian.[15]

In Australia, a multi-denominational group of Christian hip hop artists, led by Mistery from Brethren, have started a hip hop church Krosswerdz.[16] The church has been modeled on Crossover Church in Tampa, Florida.

2007 Holy Hip Hop Music Awards also received a written endorsement letter from the mayor of Atlanta acknowledging the event's support by the City of Atlanta and recognizing its 7th year.[17] However, EX Ministries and other churches explain the distinction that hip hop culture and rap music are not the same. The lyrics and music is not wrong, but incorporating hip hop culture in the music is the problem. They conclude that "Holy Hip-Hop" is still associated with the mainstream hip hop culture that they view as incompatible with Christianity's teachings.[18][19][20] Whereas one group of Christians holds that Holy Hip Hop can be used for evangelization and to reach those immersed in secular hip hop culture,[21] others disagree, arguing that the use of this style distorts the Gospel message.[22] From December 2013 well into 2014, Scott Aniol and Christian Hip Hop artist Shai Linne had a lengthy exchange about Christian rap (rap being the core element of hip hop), with Dr. Aniol arguing that the style is sinful and inadequate for Christian messaging whereas Shai Linne denied that hip hop can be called sinful and that its musical messaging is relative, being interpreted differently by people from different backgrounds.[23]


Holy hip-hop has enjoyed some crossover acceptance as well. One of the early accepted artists were Disciples of Christ (D.O.C.).

One of the most notable mainstream reactions to Gospel rap was to KJ-52 (pronounced "five-two") and his single "Dear Slim", which was written to Eminem in an attempt to reach him with the message of Christ. The song became famous and controversial among Eminem fans when it was featured on the hit show Total Request Live. KJ-52 began to receive hate mail (including death threats) from Eminem's fans, though KJ-52 claimed that the song was not a "diss".[24] This also led to the single being disparaged by VH1 as No. 26 on their "Top 40 Worst Moments in Hip Hop",[25] an issue the artist addressed in "Washed Up". In contrast, the GRITS song "Ooh Ahh" received positive exposure on various TV Shows and movies, such as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Big Momma's House 2.[26] It was also featured as the theme song for the second season of MTV’s hit show The Buried Life.[27]

Forms and subgenres

Catholic hip hop

In the early 2000s some rappers in the Roman Catholic faith began including religious lyrics in their songs, as well as making careers out of Christian hip hop. Today, a number of active Catholic rappers and DJs are involved in what is known as the "Catholic hip hop scene".[28] Various well-known artists in the Catholic hip hop scene include Akalyte, Massmatics, FoundNation, Sammy Blaze, Zealous, John Levi, Move Merchants, Flip Francis, Paradox, Manuel 3, M.A.S., Point 5 Covenant, Paul Jisung Kim,[29] Father Pontifex, Isaac Nolte, Uncut Diamondz, Rob Fortin aka Miniztry, and Fr. Stan Fortuna. Catholic hip hop exists in the underground hip hop scene, and has not been noticed by mainstream hip hop labels.

See also


  1. ^ Busy R. "The Holy Hip Hop DataBASE - The ultimate online Christian Hiphop resource". Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ "MC Sweet - (Adam & Eve) The Gospel Beat (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ Kingdom Careers - Find out who we are
  4. ^ "Stephen Wiley - Bible Break". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Beats, Rhymes and Bibles: An Introduction To Gospel Hip Hop" (PDF). Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  6. ^ admin (July 26, 2010). "CMA: Danny 'D-Boy' Rodriguez". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ Cummings, Tony (January 2003). "Blessing the Martyrs".  
  8. ^ "Hip Hop Column". Gospel Flava. Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Higher Ground International Record Pool". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  10. ^ Deepa Shah (April 29, 2008). "Holy Hip-Hop: Hostile Gospel". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Preach The" Chrstian Rapper'?". Brain Magazine. Brain Magazine. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Holy Hip Hop’s Civil War
  13. ^ GMA Dove Awards History: Rap/Hip Hop recorded song of the year
  14. ^ "22nd Annual Stellar Award WINNERS (2007)". January 13, 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ - Hip Hop Under Siege?.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ - Holy Hip Hop awards Recap 2007
  18. ^ "A message to Christian Rappers". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  19. ^ "ExMinistries Arguments". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Holy Hip Hop. NOT!". Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  21. ^ - Holy Hip Hop
  22. ^ " - Is Rap Really a Canvas?". Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics - Religious Affections Ministries. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  23. ^ " - Discussion about Christian rap with Shai Linne: Introduction". Conservative Christianity, Worship, Culture, Aesthetics - Religious Affections Ministries. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  24. ^ " KJ-52 Interview — Getting It Right". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  25. ^ "KJ-52 - 2006 GMA Music Awards". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  26. ^ Shull, Adam (July 29, 2010). "Grits, Hearts of Saints bring local connections to town". Paducah Sun. Retrieved August 18, 2010. 
  27. ^ "GRITS "Ooh Ahh (My Life Be Like)" Finds Unparalleled Success as a Digital Single, Chosen as Theme Song for MTV’s The Buried Life". Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  28. ^ - "Converting Catholics to Catholicism"
  29. ^ - "Catholic Hip-Hop and Rap Music"

External links

  • Christian hip hop at DMOZ
  • Rapzilla, a Christian Hip-Hop Magazine
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