Mixtape's have been around since the late 70's, and many artists have found exposure and even gotten recording contracts from being featured on a mixtape. The mixtape in secular hip hop has been a proven outlet to promote your music in a cost effective way. Christian Hip Hop has been tapped into the mixtape game for several years now, however most are utilized to raise funds. With that said, I want to explore another function that Christian artists can use mixtape's for, namely, evangelism. Mixtape's can serve a similar purpose as like chick tracts. They have a message and can be handed out like tracts, anywhere to anyone.
Fire On The Altar is a website that has taken the message of repentance and revival and blended it with intimate worship, and then making mixes to spread the message. I've been exposed to some good preaching through their ministry. Its this attitude that has impacted my desire for Christian Hip Hop mixtape's, "freely you've received, and freely you give." When I first got saved I would do street evangelism wherever I went, whether on the bus to school, at the bus station, or in downtown Oceanside, CA by the Pier Amphitheater. Even when I went to bible school I continued doing evangelism in the West End and Deep Ellum areas of Dallas, TX. I never really used tracts, I preferred the personal, one on one, conversational style approach, offering prayer and sharing my faith, though many preferred to use gospel tracts.
I would like to present the gospel through hip hop, via mixtape's, as a way to evangelize. There are a lot of Christian Hip Hop mixtape's being released recently. I can easily see how handing out a "mixtape tract" could be appealing when evangelizing. You won't come off religious, and you can simply say, "Yo, check out this dope artist, it's free" or something along those lines. That's not as challenging or as uncomfortable a Ray Comfort soap-box method using the Ten Commandments to guilt sinners into a prayer. The message is in the music. If they listen they will hear it albeit in an appealing form. In my opinion this is a neglected form of outreach. mixtape's aren't neglected in CHH, however I haven't seen them passed out like tracts on a regular basis. Triple H mixtape's (which has allowed over 80,000 people to hear Christ-centered Hip Hop) is a site that offers free mixtape's so that unsaved has free music to check out while injected with the good news of Jesus. I started making mix "tapes" and passing them out to kids in my old neighborhood on the Church bus and they were feeling the music and message. I'd of course have hot music mixed with cuts and samples. It helped them get into going to church. I found that it was a good bridge into other styles of music like gospel, rhythm and praise and worship music.
From an artist perspective, the mixtape has been a way to say what they want without sample clearance or label censorship issues. The advantages for the artist are less work, little to no cost, and free exposure. The artist also gets to express themselves without the issue that would arise when dealing with releasing material full of samples through a traditional record label contract. A new trend is that of offering albums and mixtape's for free, either as promotion or because they couldn't get label backing and want to get the music to the fans.
The mixtape is here to stay and hopefully we can start making a stronger impact than that of the secular mixtape. So let's start building some teams in each city to use Christian Hip Hop mixtape's as tools for evangelism.