If you are new to Christian rock, please read this
post about the definition of Christian rock and some of the biggest questions about Christian music.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Christian Hip Hop

For this post, I want to take a look at the genre of Christian rap, also known as Holy Hip Hop.  Christian rap is really defined as rap music with an evangelistic goal.  Rap music consists of a vocalist that uses spoken or chanted vocal style.  Most rappers today also incorporate some level of singing vocals into their music.

Christian rap is a relatively new genre, beginning in the mid 1980s.  The first Christian rap album was Bible Break by Stephen Wiley, which was released in 1985.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, other notable rap artists arose including DC Talk, Kirk Franklin, and T-Bone.  DC Talk is arguably one of the most popular Christian groups of all time.

In the last decade, Christian rap has exploded.  There are numerous artists both in the Christian and secular markets.  Now, entire record labels are even devoted to Christian rap.  Recently, other hip hop genres have emerged and are slowly becoming more and more popular.  Rap rock is definitely a growing trend in which artists fuse rap with driving rock songs and singing vocals. 

The first artist I want to share with you is Manafest.  His albums are more rapcore and rap rock than any other hip hop genre.  Originally from Canada, Manafest is currently signed to BEC Recordings.  His music is slowly becoming more popular in the United States.  But in Canada, he has already received awards and nominations in the Juno Awards and the Canada Covenant Awards.  The song I want to share with you is off his sixth album The ChaseAvalanche is all about hitting rock bottom.  Your whole world is crashing around you, like an avalanche, and all you can do is pray to God for strength.

Second, is Group 1 Crew.  The unique feature about Group 1 Crew is that they have three vocalists:  two male rappers and a female vocalist.  They are relatively new, only released two albums since 2007.  So far this group is not widely popular, but they are slowly becoming very prevalent on Christian radio.  The song I want to share with you is off their second album, Outta Space LovePlease Don’t Let Me Go is one of my all time favorite Hip Hop songs.  This song is about the power of God’s love.

The third artist is Tedashii.  Another relatively new artist, Tedashii has released two albums since 2006.  He is also a member of the Christian rap group 116 Clique.  Tedashii is unique for having a deep rapping voice.  The song I want to share with you is called Make War, off his second album Identity Crisis.  The beginning of the song features a clip from pastor John Piper.  Make War is a rally cry for all Christians to stand up and make war against sin and Satan.

The fourth artist is KJ-52.  KJ-52 is Jonah Sorrentino’s stage name.  He has released a total of seven albums since 1997.  KJ-52 is known for collaborating with many rock musicians and vocalists including: Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch, Rob Beckley from Pillar, Jon Micah Sumrall from Kutless, Toby Morrell from Emery, and Kevin Young of Disciple.  The song Run For Cover is off his album KJ-52 Remixed and features vocalist Trevor McNevan.  Featuring driving guitars and a hard beat, this song is about standing up for your faith in Jesus Christ.  Plus, it has a lot of great pop culture references.

Fifth is probably the most famous Christian rapper, TobyMac.  Toby started his career with DC Talk.  After the group broke up, TobyMac began a solo rap rock career.  His solo career has been very successful, releasing four albums with numerous Christian radio singles.  His live album even received a Grammy award.  Boomin is off his third album Portable Sounds.  This song features a driving rock sound mixed with clean and rap vocals.  Boomin is really a party song. It describes the members of TobyMac’s band and how they have a good time rocking for Christ.

The final rap artist is Lecrae.  He has released five albums on Reach Records.  He is also a member of the Hip Hop group 116 Clique alongside Tedashii.  Lecrae’s fourth album, Overdose, garnered much popularity and peaked at number sixteen on the Billboard 200.  The final song I want to share with you is called Don’t Waste Your Life, off of his third album.  The title pretty much sums up the main theme of the song.  Choose to live your life for Christ, instead of wasting it on worldly things.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at Christian Hip Hop music.  If you enjoy this genre, some other artists to check out are Rapture Ruckus, John Reuben, B.Reith, and 4th Avenue Jones.