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. [Article Originally Posted In August Of 2017]
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?