I grew up in St. Louis and the music genre of choice was usually Hip-Hop. I listened to it before football games, before work, in the car, after school, almost incessantly. Hip-Hop makes my soul leap. It gives me goosebumps, inspires and motivates, and even helps with grief. The punch lines, the wordplay, the metaphors, the passion, the beat — to me, it’s the best. When that “one part” in the song hits, It’s almost like I forget about everything else.
When I became a Christian, though, things changed. My desires shifted. How I viewed my body, money, women, and my life altered. The same rap lyrics I once loved I now viewed differently. Let’s be honest: much of the secular (for lack of a better word) rap content is contrary to the things of God. But even though I do not advocate nor agree with what many of them say, I do occasionally listen to it. And though I don’t admire them in the sense that I would want to be like them, I do admire their skill-set and can’t help but recognize it. It’s a gift from God. It’s total common grace.
Then I tried listening to some “Christian Rap.” And man, was it terrible.
One Psalmist tells us to “play skilfully” (Psalm 33:3). It doesn’t matter if we are Christian Artists; if we are not skillful, maybe we should consider doing something else. Don’t use “I want to do this for the Lord’s glory” as an excuse for incompetence. Get honest feedback from fellow Artists and examine the fruitfulness your work brings. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be competent. Because we don’t simply need more Christian Artists, but rather more skillful Christian Artists.
Moreover, though I was off to a rough start, things got better as my search for skillful, Christ-exalting Hip-Hop continued.
Someone introduced me to Lecrae. And that’s when “my whole life changed.”
Soon thereafter, I heard Trip Lee. Then The Ambassador. Then it was Shai Linne and Tedashii and This’l and J’Son. And now, its people like Jackie Hill, people like Andy Mineo, people like Derek Minor.
The list seems to go on and on. There are many outstanding record labels like Reach Records, Lampode, and Humble Beast. I’ve been to many of these Hip-Hop concerts. I met and prayed for Lecrae once. I just got back from Winterjam a few weeks ago. I see the tweets, the record sales, the blogs. Most importantly, from my view (a small view), I see the impact. From across the globe, I’m seeing and hearing and listening to stories of thousands of Christians all-over the world with a passion for Hip-Hop music who are being changed and greatly inspired to love God and love people more all because of the music. Sanctification is happening. A passion for revival is stirring. People in the urban context are relating like they’ve never related before. For the good of people and the glory of God, this music and these Artists are influencing many to become more like Jesus and share Jesus with others, and for that I can’t help but feel a deep, real, and satisfying sense of gratitude. That’s what I feel. I am so grateful to God for the Artists he is raising up, and the lives he is changing.
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