At first glance, the modern worship movement seems to be heralded by a select number of singer/songwriters or “arena” acts. Groups like Hillsong, Elevation Worship, Chris Tomlin, and Passion have been dominating the charts and airwaves for decades. Yet, all the while, other sub-genres of worship have been simmering, and it looks like one of them is ready to boil over.
Christian Hip-Hop isn’t anything new, nor is it not being recognized. Artists have been using rap and hip-hop for decades to deliver a fresh and often more candid message, though not until recently has the genre seen the same crossover success achieved by its folk and rock counterparts. Whether you’ve been listening for years, or are new to the idea of Faith based rappers, here are some artists worth considering.
Jonah Sorrentino has released records under the name KJ-52 (pronounced “five-two”) for nearly twenty years, and continues to pop up all over the Christian Hip-Hop scene. He came to his musical fruition when his passion for all things hip-hop came up against his passion for God. Realizing much of what he heard in mainstream hip-hop was “junk,” he began writing his own songs about his personal struggles and salvation. With messages geared towards those who feel like something is missing, or that they don’t belong, it’s easy to see why KJ-52 has continued to be a mainstay in the hip-hop scene.
Trip Lee has been in the hip-hop scene for longer than it may seem. He’s recently reached more mainstream success, but always roots his songs in Holy principals. In the track Unashamed, from his 2017 release The Waiting Room, Lee directly responds to criticism that he’s been moving away from the gospel.
Still gotta serve my God, no lie
On themic I might testify, oh my
Tear down what we got so high, they try
Love what got here, glad that we got here,nah it won't die
Andy Mineo is somewhat of a prodigy. While still in high school, he was signed to a record label as a producer/rapper under the name C-Lite. A few years into his musical career, he realized he was straying from his spiritual foundation, and rebooted his career, shedding his moniker, and fully embracing Christian Hip-Hop. Mineo has won two Dove awards and is consistently found on Billboard’s Christian charts. He currently serves as a deacon for Christ Crucified Fellowship in Washington Heights.
AKA Zachary Mwai Mwang, Proud Refuge is proving himself as one of the best new rappers out there. At only 22 years old, he’s released two albums, owns and runs GBA Records International, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
This guy is everywhere. Lecrae seems to work with every other Christian Hip-Hop artist, and then some. He’s seen crossover success in mainstream hip-hop as well, collaborating with artists like Ty Dolla Sign and Kendrick Lamar. He’s influenced Tim Tebow and Steph Curry. He’s hosted TedTalks and received an honorary doctorate from Canadian Christian College. Lecrae is an ambassador of the Gospel for a whole new generation. Definitely keep him on your radar.