Disclaimer: The debate of what is Genuine Hip-Hop is an infinite battle so I wont try to solve it; and I say that to emphasize how much more complicated it becomes when you add religious or socially “traditional” ideas to it. For the time being, I’ll define Christian Hip-Hop as a an American genre that uses rhythmic or traditional Hip-Hop elements and rhyming that affirms and articulates Christian ideas. Your Welcome to all the specific persnicketies out there:)
“Long as I got breath in my Nostrils, it’s Gospel” – Cross Movement, “I am that I am” (The House Of Representatives) 1999
These were the very memorable lyrics I would repeat when I was a little girl driving in the backseat with my Dad. And while these hold a special place for me- spiritually and with respect to nostalgia, they also helped break ground to a new subgenre; and that is Christian Rap. Cross Movement, or what my dad likes to call ” The Christian Wu-Tang Clan” was my first exposure to Christian Hip-Hop and Rap. This genre was my everyday music. As I became older, I had my phases from Ambassador to Da’Truth to now Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Bizzle and my recent obsession J. Givens. And while I could go on with my personal favorites- I realize I’m not the only one. Avid listeners and discoverers of Christian Rap are also Avid listeners of Secular Hip-Hop as well.
In recent years, The commercialism of Hip-Hop and Rap has increased; cementing it’s place in mainstream culture and with that-there has been some negative side-effects. Though many issues regarding Hip-Hop is debatable, I’m sure if not all, then most can agree that the image, content and ingenuity of Hip-Hop has changed. Its origins of storytelling and genuine aggressiveness has lost its luster in the respect that most Hip-Hop today’s sole purpose is to entertain. That need for awareness and identity has drowned in the “black hole” of “profitable execution.”
With that said, the growth of Christian Rap and its evolution of style has created that form of genuine storytelling and passion that Secular Rap has somewhat lost. It’s rapid popularity is a result of many things- but the main reason I believe it has found acceptance is because it stresses the need to be “aware.” Even for people that disagree with the message or isn’t interested in Christianity at all- there is a mutual respect. And Christian Rap doesn’t only focus on Jesus; That social commentary and expression of one’s perspective in an discouraging environment is relatable. Christian Hip-Hop and Rap challenges the “intellectual man” for everyone. Their honesty and place as confidante and friend for the listener has taken a way more intimate role. I would even say that because of Christian Hip-Hop and Rap’s influence, Secular Rap has stepped its game up when it comes to being socially conscious. “Secular Hip-Hip Saviours”like Kendrick Lamar ( MY GOD, HIS GRAMMY PERFORMANCE), J.Cole, Chance The Rapper, Jay-Z have emphasized America’s social status and the need for progression.
Many Christian Rappers today don’t consider themselves “Christian Rappers” just because of the stagnancy and hinderance it creates between society and the artist. America has a tendency to misrepresent people and ideas, and Christianity is definitely a victim of that. This makes Christian Rap significant to American Culture where we support and celebrate the “Average Joe.” Christian Rap is way more specific in it’s purpose to reach “the lost”- and that can take many translations- but at the source it is to reach anyone they can. Unlike popular Secular Rap, there is no elite club or “better than you” mentality emphasized. Christian Hip-Hop signify our likenesses more than our differences as people-which often isn’t the mentality shown to the general public.
If you are “woke” and appreciate encouragement and progressiveness, you should check out some religious based artists. Though I’m a Christian, I listen to some Muslim, Russian and New Zealand Rappers because they are like minded when it come to being socially conscious. Get out of your comfort zone, and Expand your mind! #100