Top 10 Most Influential Reach Records Songs

When discussing a topic so contentious and debatable, it's important to establish ground rules and criteria. While others will focus on other more recognizable songs to be included in this compilation, this article aims to point out the most "influential" for the artist, label and the Christian Hip Hop movement as a whole, NOT best. Because of this criteria, many of the newer offerings have been left off this list, as it is difficult to determine a classic if enough time has not elapsed to prove its credentials. Also, these songs are in no particular order. With that being said, let's get into it.

10."Man Up Anthem" (The Reach Records relay pass)

"Man Up" makes the list because it's the only song containing every artist Reach Records has ever signed. The warrior chant served as a sort of baton pass from the accomplished Reach veterans to the sure-handed "new school" stable of artists. The creative collage of 7 different styles, was an effectively clear anthem for a call towards authentic Biblical manhood. "Man Up" became the soundtrack for music, a movie and the movement of a legion of goldly men.

9."Just Like You" (Lecrae gets honest)

While most people would point to Rehab's other transcendent cut "Background", this track was arguably more influential. This autobiographical take of Lecrae's life was presented in a more personal way than we had previously heard from him. Instead of solely pointing towards the errors of modern cultural worldview, Lecrae essentially puts himself on trial. He unpacks his influences in the first 2 verses, then confronts his depravity/need for a Savior in the 3rd. It is not a surprise that this was used as an instrumental for the "Man Up" movie trailer. This song is like a movie all by itself. The track also was a bridge to two different styles of Lecrae's lyrical articulation: theological and sociological. Mixed together the final product is a beautiful blend of life and doctrine.

8."The Invasion (Hero)" (106 & Park recognized)

This Trip Lee anthem is arguably the most recognizable and accessible song in his illustrious catalog. Certain tracks have the ability to captivate the audience with the first few notes, and countless venues have experienced this reality through "The Invasion". Backed by the stellar vocals of soulful songbird Jai, Trip was even able to crack his second spot on the 106&Park scene.

7."We Can Be More" (Grown Folks music)

While Sho was the most eclectic Reach artist in the history of the label, the grown folks anthem "We Can Be More" has the feel of a timeless classic. Beyond finding itself in countless wedding reception playlists and engagement proposals, the two-step track communicated something more than the common "youth group" driven content the collective was used to delivering. With the velvet vocals of veteran crooner J.R., Sho cracked the code with this track, spawning a series of copycat love songs and mindsets geared for marriage.

6."Don't Waste Your Life" (Created a movement)

If Christian Hip Hop had a historic Top 10 countdown, this guaranteed rooflifter would have a secure spot in the Top 5. To begin with the song was placed on Lecrae's most critically acclaimed album "Rebel". Not to mention, it was one of the first overt modern mergers between theology and hip hop, taking its title from the popular John Piper book. And on replay value and concert hype alone (with the stellar international flow of a Dwayne Tryumf feature), this is easily one of the best songs produced in modern Christian.

5."Make War" (Difficult Doctrine lived out)

Tedashii is known for being the power-puncher of the label. His songs are typically bigger, louder and rowdier than his Reach compadres. And "Make War" was no different. In this track, T-dot brilliantly displays a difficult doctrine to live out: killing sin. In no previous time had war on the inner man been so obvious or seemed so necessary. The desperate plea, punctuated by a powerful verse from Flame, is still a classic in Tedashii's catalog.

4."Go Hard" (Another level of crossover appeal)

Beyond the obvious appeal of hearing this song performed live in a concert, "Go Hard" contains some of the most aggressive lyrics ever put on a Christian Hip Hop song. "Lord, kill me if I don't preach the Gospel" has been repeated by Christians of all ethnicities, ages, backgrounds and denominations. It had the theological weight and accessible appeal to reach the masses. The song was also famously played by Dwight Howard during pre-game warmups in the Orlando Magic arena. Lecrae and Tedashii bottled up electric energy, and it exploded onto this classic.

3. "Represent" (The first unashamed anthem)

I had forgotten the impact of this song until it was played last year on the Unashamed Tour to a raucous crowd reaction. This was literally the first unashamed anthem. The success/surprise of this chant was its "in your face" delivery, which was foreign to many in the still-growing Christian Hip Hop genre. It signaled a clear shift from the less accessible theological expository rap of the late 90's/early 2000s to more aggressive chants for the concerts. Without the success of this song, many of the Reach anthems we have grown to know and love may never have been released.

2."Cash or Christ" (Unapologetic doctrinal stance)

Trip Lee's "Cash or Christ" was easily the most recognizable and controversial song of his debut album "If They Only Knew". The Tony Stoneproduced banger took aim at the beef between God/money as idols in an indirect but piercing way. For young Trip Lee, this was a precursor to the theological weight we could expect from him in the future. Mixed with Lecrae's trademark flow, Christian Hip Hop was put on notice that then youngster was going to unashamedly speak the truth regardless of popularity.

1."Jesus Muzik" (Started it all)

Most recognizable song in Christian Hip Hop history? Probably. Most influential song? Almost certainly. Few people seem to be unfamiliar with the chopped and screwed chorus on this classic and the impact had ripple effects for countless artists. The announcement on Lecrae's After The Music Stops album was simply that music was no longer going to be a one-sided conversation. No longer would 106&Park have a monopoly on musical excellence. It was part theological treatise, part dirty south anthem, part rebellious response to culture all "rapped" together.

Seeing that Reach Records is celerating their 10th anniversary, the team here at Rapzilla finds it more than appropriate to wish the legendary label congratulations for their amazing contribution to the Christian Hip Hop movement. Whether or not you agree with the list above, one thing is for sure: Reach Records has had a prolific decade-long run. We give honor to whom honor is due and sincere thanks for providing so many of us with the soundtrack to our lives as we aim to glorify God.

Okay, let the debate begin. What are the top 10 most influential Reach Records songs of all time? Fire away!

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