Within the past year, several well-known Christian hip hop artists have undergone name-change surgery: Katalyst became Kareem Manuel, C-Lite became Andy Mineo, and most recently, PRo became Derek Minor (you can read his explanation here). Interestingly, all three name changes involved changing the artists’ stage names to their government names, or names very similar. In PRo’s case, Derek Minor is merely a modified form of his first name, Derek Jr. Derek Minor’s explanation above echoes a theme shared by Andy Mineo last winter: changing the stage name to the government name reflects a desire for transparency. It reflects a desire to be the same person on and off the stage, a far contrast from the sharp personal/professional divide among many secular, mainstream artists.
I think this is good for Christian hip-hop. To keep it simple, we need our artists to be as transparent as possible. We don’t want Christian hip hop theater, a smorgasbord of music labels brimming with well-trained actors who provide Christian rap parties and whose personal lives we know nothing about. We need rappers who are willing to sit with us at conferences and across the Internet, pour into our lives, and ask us to pour into theirs. We need rappers who let us know they’re united with us in Christ’s work, rappers who let us know their struggles, rappers who set examples for us as Believers. In addition, if changing one’s stage name as an artist to his or her government name helps this come about, it should happen!
Of course, I’m not implying that using a stage name different from your government name is an indication of your lack of transparency or ability to be real with people. Only an artist’s life determines that. But I am saying that Christian hip hop artists, including myself, need to do whatever it takes to break down the walls of Christian celebrity and build relationships and ministries grounded in Gospel-rich authenticity.
I’m glad Derek Minor made a move in that direction.
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