What The CHH Community Is And Isn’t [A Philosophical Examination]

Christian rapper. Rapper who is a Christian. Mainstream rapper that has Christian themes. Rapper/Hip-Hop artist that just wants to be called an artist.

The conversations on labels continue to rage on. CHH Beef happens to be a real thing. That’s a cute convo but we just might be missing the point.

For artists, if your faith is central to your identity, it’s going to leak into your music and by default you will most likely be embraced by a community called Christian Hip-Hop. Not saying that’s the ONLY community that will rock with you, but it’s an inevitable situation. Just like NBA players are a part of a NBA community that works together for the advancement of various causes. Just because Dwyane Wade is a part of the NBA community, doesn’t mean he isn’t a part of the fashion world as well. So this isn’t about boxing anyone into a CHH box. It’s about dealing with something that exists and is reality. Some people embrace this concept more than others.

The Christian Hip-Hop community isn’t a genre: 

Some will argue that Christian Hip-Hop is a genre of music but that doesn’t directly relate to this article. The Christian Hip-Hop community is what its name says it is, a community! It’s a community of Christians who are connected to Hip-Hop culture. You don’t have to be a CHH artist to be associated with it. If you make hip-hop music and share your faith, chances are you will fellowship with this group quite frequently. Hence why, Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper have become big topics of discussions in CHH due to the Christian themes in their lyrics.

Some definitions of community include the following statements. (Via Merriam-Webster)

the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself the problems of a large community

an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location 

a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society (hip-hop culture?)

a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.

This is why artists like Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Sho Baraka, NF, Shai Linne, Lecrae, Social Club Misfits, Bizzle, Andy Mineo, Thi’sl, nobigdyl, Aha Gazelle, JGivens and Konata Small, among others tend to be at the same shows and conferences, even though some don’t claim the CHH label. They’re Hip-Hop artists who have Christ at the center of their lives. The Christian Hip-Hop community makes music, infiltrates culture for the betterment of society, preaches the Gospel, and relates to each other. A lot of times they do these things together and if not, they are inspired by their peers from afar. They grow with each other at times and bounce ideas off of each other. Some who don’t want to call themselves Christian Hip-Hop, are CHH in a loose way because of their association to the community. People are complex so we can let some of these views breathe a bit.

The Christian Hip-Hop community isn’t a theological camp:

The essentials of Christendom include Jesus Christ’s death, burial, & resurrection. Also, essentials are salvation by grace through faith, love, repentance, fellowship, evangelism (sharing the Gospel), and social work. With that being said, Christianity is super diverse and the non essentials can cause heated debates (topics like predestination, expression of faith, how gifts of the spirit are handled in modern times, function of the Church and more.) Christian Hip-Hop isn’t just Reformed, Calvinist, Arminian, or Charismatic. It’s not a denomination (Baptist, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational etc). It’s an artistic community that shares the Christian faith in a broad sense. Regardless of your theological views, this should be a dope thing, because that means we can all put matters of the faith on the chopping block and grow with each other in love. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean their music and ministry should be discredited. Even if someone is theologically off and appears to be staying on certain negative paths, can’t God orchestrate it all for his glory? At the very least, a theologically off  (if you think they are) rapper can be better for our youth to listen to than booty shaking, drug endorsing, murder music right? At least, thinking is being encouraged! Understand, when you enter this Christian Hip-Hop world, you’re dealing with complexity and diversity. Christian Hip-Hop is a loose concept that doesn’t have some lead Pastor or Bishop calling shots. You might need to chill if you thought that was the case.

The Christian Hip-Hop community isn’t a replacement for a Church family and Christian living:

CHH isn’t a replacement for a Church family and Christian living, because it’s a loose concept that isn’t exclusively owned by a theological camp. You still have to know what you believe. If you’re doing Christian Hip-Hop or a part of the Christian Hip-Hop community you should be seeking truth and plugged into a healthy local Church that follows biblical teaching. The community can be a confusing world and you need to know where you stand on various issues, so you’re an effective believer within hip-hop culture. Sometimes the believers you encounter in CHH aren’t really there for you, they will be just acquaintances that you deal with for artistic and business reasons. You’re going to be let down if you think the Christian Hip-Hop community can replace a Church family. It’s not just a Reformed or Charismatic movement (though those exist within CHH). Are you being discipled? Do you fellowship consistently? Meeting with the body of Christ? Questions you should ask yourselves if you are a CHH artist and authentically want to grow in Christ. Unfortunately, some are not asking these questions and are cool with just making music and doing shows (a scenario that usually ends ugly. Check your motives). Embrace the community, don’t exploit it for your glory and fame.

In conclusion, the Christian Hip-Hop community is a group of artists, ministers, journalists, deejays, producers, engineers, event coordinators, graphic designers, fashion companies, media outlets, fans, speakers, and more. The glue that holds them together? Not a genre (though Christian Hip-Hop music does exist – music that explicitly proclaims Jesus Christ), not a theological camp,and not a single Church house. What holds the community together is the desire to know Jesus and make him known.

What are your thoughts on the CHH community? 

RELATED: Timeout From The Beef #CHH [CONVERSATION]

  • Jauquin Jamile Holmes

    Ok, which conference was this decided at that CHH is a community. Yes?? CHH has a community and those that support it at an extent (when they are able) and seemingly a community of believers and enthusiasts (soon to be believers) that enjoy the way this form speaker to them… I find it difficult not leaving the genre out of CHH. It is a MUSICAL art form primarily (not only rap)… there needs to be a genre piece so the community (sadly) can be defined better in more standard (secular) platforms. That’s my initial thought to this article. Gives the framework to the new and something to build on for those in the community… The main thing is that is where the tension is between the community and the placement as a genre… again its how platforms can see those artists and have a spot to see those body of artists… I see bluegrass for instance but not a “CHH” or “conscious rap” there is inspirational. How does this community continue to get and gain visibility in the future…

    • Paul Martinez

      Hey Jauquin, wouldn’t the genre piece in the Christian Hip-Hop community be Hip-Hop? Hip-Hop done by Christians in a way that doesn’t dishonor God? If someone does positive Hip-Hop, that’s not explicitly Christian, are they not allowed to be a part of the CHH community (even if they are believers)?

      • Jauquin Jamile Holmes

        I kind of get your thought here… yes hip hop is an established genre now. It’s not considered rock or r&b anymore. I’ll try to put it this way, back in the day the main stream way to know more of christian or gospel rtists was sound and spirit from bmg… today there is iTunes as well as media sites like Jam and Rapzilla. There is still the gap in being a big enough community to “become its own town” we need to get from a neighborhood to a town, and now become a city. The genre side can be better resolved and artist and fanbase in this community have a fundemental experience and expectation. It’s being accepted widely your “title” doesnt matter. The focus is and should be how you express Christ in a way that the audience can relate to and enjoy… in the space that is hip hop and as a community of christ centeredness. Yet there is still a gap in reaching a audience that doesn’t hear your name unless you have, good multilevel strategy or be backed by the now mature christian and gospel markets… Christian market. I still want to go to a best buy and see more than lecrea, Flame, and KJ-52. After this amout of time there is not a wide body of artists in stores and on other platforms. That’s what I am trying to convey there is still that gap… there is still that goal to reach. For the community in general and not rely on just the few that crossed over… cause I for one am tried of artist people feel like they aren’t supported by the “community” doing a few years then move on like it’s a phase of adolescence… because that is how many ministries (chruches) see hip hop and even less on Christ centered hip hop… I appreciate your article here… being a long time member of this community… pre 116… (if defining eras now…) i want to see this grow (as it is now) it’s like a lack of identity and a self listing that masks itself in humility… that’s my Quan, and this is what I’m passionate about, along with many others… prepare your insight Paul