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Christian hip-hop
Stylistic origins East Coast hip-hop, West Coast hip-hop, Christian music, Christian rock, Gospel music
Cultural origins 1980s, United States
Typical instruments Turntable, vocals, sampler, synthesizer, drum machine, piano
Mainstream popularity 1990s—present

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 members of the church and/or simply entertaining.

HistoryEdit

The first commercially released and distributed Gospel rap album was Stephen Wiley's 1985 album Bible Break, distributed by Benson Music Group. 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 and S.F.C. (Soldiers for Christ). 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.

The 1990s saw the continuing trend of funky rap artists blending faith and rap, such as D.O.C. (Disciples of Christ) who emerged out of 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. 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.

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.

Artists and styleEdit

Sometimes faith may be evident in part of a song or other times an entire song or album may focus on Christian beliefs. 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.

Others, such as Tunnel Rats, LPG, Brethren, Manafest, GRITS and Skribbal, choose to be simply hip hop artists who are expressing themselves since they are Christian. 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[who?] 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.

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, and Dirty South (Pettidee).

Christian hip hop is also embraced and performed by UK artists such as Melvillous, and Simply Andy & Just C. The GL Live music event 2010, held in the UK saw a fusion of Christian rappers both American and British celebrate their faith together whilst demonstrating their own unique styles.

Reaction and acceptanceEdit

IndustryEdit

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

PerformancesEdit

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.

MarketsEdit

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.

In Australia, a multi-denominational group of Christian hip hop artists, led by Mistery from Brethren, have started a hip hop church Krosswerdz. 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. 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.

CrossoverEdit

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 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". This also led to the single being disparaged by VH1 as No. 26 on their "Top 40 Worst Moments in Hip Hop", 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. It was also featured as the theme song for the second season of MTV’s hit show The Buried Life.

Forms and subgenresEdit

Catholic hip-hopEdit

Main article: Catholic hip-hop

In the early 2000s many 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". Various well known artists in the Catholic hip hop scene include Alkalyte, Massmatics, Sammy Blaze, Move Merchants, Flip Francis, Paradox, Manuel 3, M.A.S., Point 5 Covenant, Paul Jisung Kim and Fr. Stan Fortuna. Catholic hip hop exists in the underground hip hop scene, and is yet to be noticed by mainstream hip hop labels.

LinksEdit

See AlsoEdit

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