When Lecrae first won his Grammy in 2013 for ‘Gravity’, it was seen as a victory for most Christians in the music business, however, there were a few haters – mainly in areas of thinking about whether Lecrae was being too ‘mainstream’ and not staying relevant to his Christian faith, some asked;
‘Was he straying into worldly themes’?
‘Was he still a Christian’?
‘Was he now, Illuminati’?
As Christians and as Christian artists, especially within the Hip Hop/Rap world, we have been struggling with this for a while. The UK and US alike, have been trying to stay relevant through music trends and at the same time, keep their orthodox faith in check.
Guvna’B‘s, ‘In a Box’, explained this perfectly; the need to represent Jesus through cultural Rap music without neccessarily being judged as only, a ‘Christian Rapper’ (CHH), but to actually be recognised as a musician who loves to use music as a language and happens to be a Christian too.
Personally, I understand both sides of the argument; from the religious Christian, who worries daily about becoming part of ‘the world’ and doesn’t want to over-engage their environment in case they slip and fall into sin – to the modern evangelistic, who realises that we have to get out of our comfort zones to reach the lost, the broken and the poor in spirit, as Jesus came to save (Mark 2:17 NLT). We have to bridge the gap to show the love of Jesus and music is one of the best ways to do this as it is transcultural – which means it reaches people across seen and unseen cultural borders.
As it stands, here in 2017, the US CHH scene is progressing into a new era, as more artists like NF, Lecrae and Social Club, get deals with mainstream record labels and the industry, along with the churches, are realising that it’s good to be relevant through music and that they can still hold a living as true Christians.
– Over here in Blighty, the scene is still growing, we can but pray, that more church leaders and leaders within the Christian music scene, will welcome that being a Christian artist doesn’t have to mean that every song you rap about is evidentially, ‘God based’ and yet they can still be relevant. We should pray that the mainstream can open up to accept Christian artists as artists who make great music and are Christians as well, rather than straight away, putting them into a box.
Ultimately it is a personal feeling which I leave you to ponder;
“If a Christian Hip Hop artist (or any genre artist), makes music, should it be solely about Jesus?”
“Should mainstream producers/directors/artists, only view someone who is a Christian and an artist, solely as a ‘Gospel artist’?”
You decide, but I urge you to pray about it first before you answer.
Written by Andy Oliver.
Andy Oliver is the founder of 70×7 Clothing & Music. He manages UK Grime artist, GhostLotus and J.Walker and takes bookings for other artists. Apart from running his 70×7 Clothing label, he is also the presenter of HopeJamz Hip Hop show on HopeFM and organises music events around the UK.
Andy lives in Dorset with his son, Noah and is a firm believer in Jesus Christ.