Hip Hop with a specific focus on promoting Christ likely started not too long after Hip Hop did, however the first commercially released album in this fashion was Stephen Wiley's 1985 album 'Bible Break.' Now, 25 years later there is a viable niche carved out in the music industry. The niche has been called by several names including Christian Hip Hop, Christian Rap, Holy Hip Hop, Gospel Hip Hop, etc.
Like many humble beginnings, this niche was not documented well. Up until a few years ago with the introduction of social networks MySpace and Facebook, communication wasn't always an easy task, making it difficult to stay in touch with pioneers in this niche.
There have been efforts by many over the years to maintain community and push this niche into the mainstream, essentially utilizing Hip Hop to reach a demographic that is influenced by that culture. In the early years of the internet, circa 1994, one of the very first communities dedicated to this niche launched called TruHipHop. TruHipHop was launched by Timothy Trudeau, known to most as owner of Syntax Records. TruHipHop was a newsgroup or listserv where people would subscribe their email and dialogue. Then came chat rooms and message boards which acted as channels for artists and fans all across the world to connect and interact like never before. A few years following, websites began to spring forth that began to provide artists and labels a media outlet for the niche. Some of those websites were HipHopZone.com, HipHopGateway.com, SphereOfHipHop.com, HipHopForTheSoul.com, WTWmagazine.com, and later HolyCulture.net, DaSouth.com, and IllSpot.net.
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Cross Movement Records announces the third solo album from veteran, East-coast emcee Phanatik, original member of the pioneering rap group The Cross Movement. Phanatik creatively delivers a fun, heart-challenging project titled Party Over Here, set to hit stores on November 23, 2010.
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The 10 year anniversary of Flavor Fest was huge success... but almost didn't happen. Crossover's new facility was scheduled to go through it's final inspections on Thursday afternoon. The inspections lasted longer than expected and the 5:00pm cut off passed. In order to pass inspection the building had to have back up power for all the lighting in the entire 43,000 square foot facility. When they checked the back up generator they discovered the wires had been cut and the battery was stolen. Some of Crossover's mechanics immediately went to work as the inspector was checking the fire alarm system. Within 30 minutes they bought a new battery hooked it up and cranked it... and all the lights in the building worked! The building was passed with a temporary certificate of occupancy at 6:40pm on Thursday night in order to open up Friday morning. The Thursday night pre-event had to be moved to the Comfort Inn Conference Center.
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“Your favorite “Christian” hip-hop artist isn’t a Christian.” Have you ever heard that? What about this one: “Your favorite “holy” hip-hop artist doesn’t really rep the gospel.” Or how about this one: “Your favorite Christian emcee is okay but they talk about the gospel way too much.” And why would anyone feel like this or say something so divisive? Because of their favorite “Christian” hip-hop artist. Their favorite crew or emcee does this “Christian” hip-hop thing the right way and yours is in sin. Now, of course their favorite hip-hop artist didn’t say that their fan should feel this way about yours, but their favorite guy is right, so by default - yours is wrong.
Its a silly train of thought, but let’s face it - we’ve all seen it in our scene. We divide over camps, crews and cliques and their ideologies and if yours doesn’t line up with mine then yours is wrong. And we ALL know that among Christians, wrong = sin. So if your favorite emcee isn’t repping like Reach Records then they really aren’t repping. Or if they don’t rep like Frontlynaz then they are doing it wrong. Or if they aren’t reaching the people like the Humble Beast camp then they aren’t really doing it. Websites, message boards and Twitter arguments are the petri dishes that feed this fungus of an ideology creating the divisions we see in our “holy hip-hop” circles. Meanwhile, as people are arguing over who is really repping Christ (or being a Christian at all by some people’s judgements) the artists themselves are celebrating the contributions of the people their fans are condemning!
Streetlights is an urban audio Bible that seeks to combine the breathing words of God with authentic and quality music production influenced by the cultures of the inner city. It is a tool that can be used to hear, memorize and assist youth and young adults in studying the Scriptures. Eclectic Hip-hop beats will be composed as an urban score to the Bible. Chapter by chapter, multiple voices with many different accents will be heard reading Scripture as the beats create a canvas for the text. Imagine God's Word shining its light through mp3 players, social networking sites and speakers throughout the cities worldwide.