I can’t believe I haven’t even posted about Christian rap yet.
Listen, Christian hip hop– or CHH— is a hobby for me. I know it sounds weird to say a music genre is a hobby, but it is. I barely keep up with myself more than I keep up with CHH. I love everything about it. I’ve always loved rap music, but I don’t like the kind of things it promotes. I try to be as cognizant as I can of my own witness. CHH is literally rap music, but it’s also about Jesus and faith and life and things like that.
A lot of people, if they have heard of it at all, have only heard a few songs, quite often by Lecrae. Most of the time, people try to talk to me about it, and they always tell me it’s “corny.” And I do concede– a lot of it is. I was just telling my buddy Harrison (S/O to Matt Hoppes, my bro-in-law, for the usage of “my buddy…”) here at PC the other day– out of the whole genre, I would say about 20-25% is the good stuff. The rest of it kinda sucks. I mean, don’t get me wrong, advancing the Kingdom is great, but at the end of the day, no one will listen to it if it’s bad. Unlike secular rap, there is a lot less money involved. The list of “guys who have made it” is significantly lower. There are a few major groups and labels, and then a lot of independent guys. The genre has just really come into its own since about 2012, with the release of Lecrae’s Gravity.
I always tell people to just give this genre a chance. The new stuff is really good. It really is. And it has such good content. If you’re a Christian, it’s got something for you. If you don’t, it’s still got something for you.
Trigger warning– I’m about to nerd out hard on this post.
Let me give you a top 5 rundown of my favorite artists.
1. Andy Mineo
Andy Mineo is a solid artist. He has been the most consistent with projects that incorporate faith and talent. He is one of the most talented writers of CHH. He’s got some bangers. He’s got some ballads. He has done some really solid features. His voice is unique, and he varies up his flow a lot. Andy’s music has character to it. Nothing he has ever made sounds like anything else he’s made. Check him out in this song (side note: Wordsplayed, who also appears in this song, is one of the CHH elite as far as talent is concerned.). This is my favorite song of all time– all facts.
Nobigdyl. is one of my favorites for two reasons. First off, he has very versatile music. His instrumentals are always very different and very organic. Secondly, he is one of the best writers in CHH. He’s got some really good lyrics in the majority of his music. Nobigdyl. is one of the best at incorporating his faith into his music without it being corny and awkward. And he never makes you question what he’s about.
3. 1k Phew
1k Phew is actually fairly new to CHH. He has only one full-length album out to date. I like this guy because he is what I call “Christian Trap.” He’s from the east side of Atlanta, so his music has a very characteristic Atlanta trap sound to it. But he has also taken hold of the new auto-tune rap comeback. He’s got a unique voice, a great heart, and a lot of talent. His music is probably one of my best ministry tools. It sounds just like the mainstream, but the content is way different. If you want bangers, this is the guy to check out.
Almost anybody who listens to CHH or has heard of it likes Lecrae. He’s by far the most successful CHH artist up until now. Lecrae has great content. Consistently, he comes out with new music that really challenges ideas of faith. He is also an artist that has gotten exponentially better, musically, with every release. After Gravity got him major mainstream clout, he has continued to put out quality music. His best complete project (in my opinion) so far is Church Clothes 3. Lecrae doesn’t really have a style– he has made one of everything. This is the number one recommendation to anyone who is new the genre, purely based on volume of music out. This man is killer.
5. Ty Brasel
To be honest, this is a bold statement for me. Up until recently, with the release of the latest album, Ty Brasel was not really one of my favorites. Traditionally, his music has not really interested me. But his latest release of Destined for Greatness (Side A) has had me jump on the bandwagon. This entire album is absolute cash. Ty has this interesting style of R&B-ish rap. He doesn’t really rap, but he doesn’t really sing. He’s got a great testimony, and he has come really far from what he used to sound like. Despite being new to my library, I can’t wait for new stuff from this guy.
People who almost made the list with a song to check out:
Other artists I highly recommend:
- Jon Keith
- Joey Jewish (Joey Vantes)
- Derek Minor
- Aha Gazelle
And here’s just an absolutely great song: