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.
Revenue in this tiny niche is almost non existent with the exception of a few, which creates a problem when trying to run a business or even a hobby as a media outlet. A common story with the website owners is that they go on to start a family and just don't have the time or money to keep pouring into the website. With that said, if you've been around this niche long enough you have seen some of those websites mentioned, come and go over the years. All of the hard work that goes into creating a website brand, and generating content that makes a successful website is either lost in space, sitting on someone's dusty old hard drive, or it changes hands.
Websites have changed hands over the years which helps to continue the effort of promoting Christ through Hip Hop to a global audience as well as provide a favorite home to fans. DaSouth.com and HolyCuture.com are good examples of sites that changed hands, being saved from being shut down. There are websites and fans of those websites that haven't had the same story however. Some of those sites include HipHopForTheSoul.com, HipHopGateway.com, HipHopZone.com, WTWmagazine.com, and a few others. Those were strong website brands, with a lot of content, and community.
Rapzilla.com has struggled with knowing that there is a a great deal of content dating back more than 10 years that would provide itself as an invaluable resource to Christian's interested in the niche. With the acquisition of the domain name, brand and content of key websites HipHopZone.com, HipHopGateway.com, WTWmagazine.com and HipHopForTheSoul.com, the role of curator has been officially taken up by the Rapzilla.com team.
We spent several months trying to get in contact with the brothers that owned these websites and talking to them and sharing our passion to take up the role of curator for this community. We acquired some of the best original websites that catered to this niche community and we're ecstatic to bring it back to life under one website at Rapzilla.com