It’s no small feat to answer the question "Is Christian Hip Hop is wack?". Saying that Christian Hip Hop is wack is almost like a “yo mama” joke for people like myself who grew up on it. I’m personally invested in this genre through buying albums and concert tickets, as well as evangelizing through Christian Hip Hop. It’s challenging to be completely objective as well as comprehensive in answering, "Is Christian Hip Hop is wack?". I’m not trying to make a blanket assessment about a multi-faceted genre with thousands of emcees across the world, most of which I have never heard of. But lovingly, I’ll try to dissect the trends I noticed in Christian Hip Hop and make a conclusion.
Is Christian Hip Hop Wack? My 4 Arguments:
YES, Christian Hip Hop exchanged poor quality beats for poor quality lyrics.
Ambassador’s 'Christology' album should be within the canon of Christian Hip Hop. Albums around this time were more than music, but introspective diaries boasting of God’s love and transformation. These emcees didn’t waste time using the gimmicks of the world because the burden on their heart to preach the gospel. Songs were attached to real stories, experiences, and emotions. But unfortunately, these songs were attached to beats that were head-nod worthy at best. Christology always puts me in this emotional tug of war where the beats make me want to hover over the pause button but the lyrics make me want to turn the volume up.
In 2011, that emotional tug of war reversed. There are so many beats that make me want to get my stanky praise dance on but I find myself wanting to dance to a song about nothing. Copy and pasting “Jesus” where the world would say something offensive about God is not lyricism. Using the newest catch phrase or dance within the context of a biblical principle you just heard last week is not lyricism either. With the plethora of inexpensive production tools, the barriers to making beats are a lot lower. But Garage Band is no substitute for getting God’s Word in your heart and growing in spiritual maturity.
YES, not enough Christian emcees study to show themselves approved.
You may not have heard of him but, Stefanotto is one of the Christian emcees I’m most excited about because he recognizes the ministry of excellence. As we were discussing if Christian Hip Hop is wack, Stefanotto wisely pointed out the complacent “2 mites mentality” in Christian Hip Hop (Luke 21:1-4). Some think that consistently giving their wack beat or simple verse to the Lord is fine because God honors a heart that serves Him. However, though God accepts us for who we are, He loves us too much to leave us where we are. Stefanotto also mentioned that if emcees don’t “study to show themselves approved”, they could do a greater disservice to the lives they want to impact (2 Timothy 2:15). Every day, Christian emcees rhyme about the greatest gift anyone could ever receive: the gift of salvation. If that gift is wrapped in an inferior presentation, it can make listeners erroneously perceive that the gift is also.
NO, what about Lecrae and ‘nem? They brought hot beats and made a movement.
I don’t know about you, but Lecrae was an answer to my slave moan. With his 2005 'Real Talk' debut, he helped raise the level of production which made Christian Hip Hop more accessible to the masses. Often times, musical excellence produces confidence; confidence produces boldness, and boldness produces cultural movements. Lecrae helped remove the “wack beat shame” that was prevalent among Christian Hip Hop listeners. No longer did we have to tell our unsaved friends “the beat is not that great, but just listen to the lyrics”, because Lecrae’s production was the bait that lead to the lyrics.
This infusion of boldness became the rallying cry for the 116 Clique. Now, Christian Hip Hop culture is not just a musical art form, but it’s a devotional, a clothing company, a church community, and a prayer movement anthem. Lecrae looked beyond his albums and into his life to impact the culture and that is amazing to see today.
My Final Answer: The “Wack Question” is Becoming Irrelevant
In my opinion, Christian Hip Hop is no longer Hip Hop’s nerdy little brother. There are definitely wack Christian rappers that we can name, but any genre that produced Wacka Flocka Flame has no right to claim perfection. When we begin to see Christian Hip Hop as a part of the body of Christ, we move from accusing this “mini church” to cherishing it to flawless beauty. As a music writer and fan, I feel that Christian Hip Hop has matured past the “wack” discussion. At this point, we as a community need to encourage intimacy with Jesus so that everyone in the Christian Hip Hop ecosystem is growing in their calling and relationship with Christ. **The views expressed in this article are the those of the author and do not represent all staff at Rapzilla.com.**