The 5 most important songs in the history of Christian Hip Hop
(this list is focused at the impact these songs had from a Christian Radio stand point)
DC Talk – Jesus Is Just Alright (1992)
This song was the biggest song from their Free At Last album which was RIAA certified Platinum. The group was also one of the first Christian acts to perform on Late Night TV when they performed this song on Jay Leno in 1993 which exposed Christian Hip Hop and Rap to a HUGE audience. Christian radio LOVED this song and played the day lights out of it!
Souljahz (AKA Washington Projects)- All Around The World (2004)
After the early 90’s and the DC Talk (rap) era, Christian Hip Hop and Rap mostly disappeared from the airwaves at Christian Radio. Artists like L.A. Symphony, Kj-52, Cross Movement, Gospel Gangstaz, Grits, and John Reuben had minor successes getting on the radio and furthering the genre but never had any impact on the chart. That all changed in 2004 when Souljahz blazed their way all the way to the top of the Christian CHR chart and becoming the only artist to ever have a CHH song get #1 status. They also grabbed 5 Dove award nominations that year.
Lecrae – Jesus Muzik (2006)
After the success of Real Talk, Lecrae released his second studio album on August 15, 2006. After the Music Stops charted at No. 5 On the Billboard Gospel Albums chart, No. 7 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart and No. 16 on the Billboard Heatseeker Album charts. The album was also nominated for a Dove Award. Although this song didn’t see a ton of Christian radio airplay it had in my opinion the most impact in the recent popularity surge CHH has seen. This is really the song that put Lecrae on the map with the Christian music audience. The buzz surrounding this song had Lecrae on the lips of everybody who liked Christian Hip Hop. It essentially launched Lecrae’s platform.
Lecrae – Background (2010)
Background was the first official Christian Radio single from his album Rehab. Rehab debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it one of the highest selling Christian Rap/Hip Hop albums of all time. This is also the first Christian Hip Hop/Rap song in a VERY long time to get added to the playlist at Christian Radio’s Air 1. Air 1 is the biggest Christian CHR radio network in the world and has an incredibly HUGE audience which is why Background is on this list.
Je’kob (Souljahz, Washington Projects) – Love Is All (2012)
In 2012 Je’kob signed with Save the City Records and agreed to release 3 EPs entitled Faith (released 07.31.12), Hope (expected to release in October) and Love (expected to release in December). His first single Love Is All has already gone as high as #12 on the Billboard Christian CHR chart and was also added to the playlist on Air 1. The size of audience this single has been able to impact is incredible and sets the stage for this style of music to make its way back to the airwaves at Christian Radio. Time will tell.
(notable mentions – Ambassador – My Clothes, My Hair and DJ MAJ – Love both saw significant airplay at Christian radio and had some pretty big audience impressions)
What are your top 5 songs? Do you agree with this list?