Expensive chains, lavish lifestyle and flashy clothes. They all dominate the culture of hip-hop. Despite this, Christian rappers are creating a counter-culture which offers creativity and passion.
Although some say they carry too much religious overtones, Christian hip-hip artists like Lacrae, Trip Lee, and other independent rappers are showing that they too can become respectable hip-hop artist.
Breaking the bad image
Although Christian hip-hip is creating more avenues in mainstream, they still have some baggage to carry. In my own opinion, this genre took a huge punch to the gut after top rapper William “The Ambassador” Branch left The Cross Movement due to “moral failure.”
This is not to say Cross Movement didn’t have their own problems. For example, the “holy hip-hip movement” led by The Cross Movement created a field of stereotypes in the public’s eye. Below average content and poor music videos from the movement placed a stigma on Christian rappers wanting to make it big.
However, today Rapzilla is one online magazine looking to overshadow the bad stereotypes by promoting good hip-hop music. The Editor-in-Chief, Chad Horton, was featured on The Christian Post earlier this year and spoke about the entrance of Christian hip-hop in mainstream.
In the article, Christian Hip-Hop: The future of Christian Music, he said, “I think [today], for the most part, the quality of music and presentation is better than any other time.”
The disconnect and future
Despite the positive attempts by rappers to repair Christian hip-hop’s image, Horton still believes this genre has a long way to go before it is widely accepted in the music industry. He admits, “99 percent of rappers promoting Christ do not have a record deal.”
This means independent Christian hip-hop artists still need day jobs to produce and sell albums. Horton says that one of the main reasons Christian hip-hop has yet to impact the world is due to a disengage church.
“I definitely think that local churches should pay more attention,” he asserts. “Hip Hop is no different than any other form of music that is praising Christ and impacting people’s lives, especially the youth.”
The failed connection to reach out to Christian rappers and to embrace Christian rap has, according to Horton, harmed the message of Christian rappers. Although these hip-hop artists carry a message about hope, without proper mainstream exposure, Christian rappers will continue to be independent artists that eventually fade away.
Maybe down the road Christian hip-hop will be seen as a legitimate art form. For now, it will have the opportunity to continue simmering and sizzling due to the creativity and energy of passionate Christian rappers.