CHRISTIANITY, HIP HOP AND LECRAE
Christian Hip Hop is a crazy paradox. On one hand you have Christianity (a church culture), where as a whole Hip Hop is out of place and alien when it comes to a traditional worship service. On the other hand you have Hip Hop culture, where freedom of expression through the four elements of deejaying, rap, break dancing and graffitti is the culture, where there are no rules, and where outspoken Christianity (more than any other religion) is shunned.
The reality is, Christianity is NOT Hip Hop to the average non-Christian fan. Why? Because to the outsider it represents CONTROL and sometimes even delusion. On the flip side, Hip Hop is NOT Christian to the average church goer either. Why? Because it represents an OUTSIDE CULTURE of the world. It’s the language and sound of the streets, where it was born. So what then? In comes Christian Hip Hop, which is essentially.. HIP HOP FOR CHRISTIANS. It has become a separate entity of its own because it is ultimately shunned by both Christianity and Hip Hop. It’s too Hip Hop for Christianity and too Christian for Hip Hop. So taking from the creative and innovative rebelliousness of Hip Hop, after the Christian feels rejected by both the church and the Hip Hop community, he then creates his own platform, an integration of Christianity, along with its church culture, and the Hip Hop culture, led by the most popular of the two, the Gospel and Rap. Put the two together and you have Christian-Hip Hop, a rapidly growing sub-genre of music and sub-culture in today’s society.
The point is, Hip Hop, Christianity and Christian-Hip Hop are just as they are typed out.. separate. Hip Hop has its own culture, Christianity has its own culture, and Christian Hip Hop combines the two cultures, creating a culture of its own, where the gospel is the ongoing theme through out every song. Once a Christian emcee strays from that formula, it has been proven to my witnessing that the said emcee’s motive and faith will come into question.
Lecrae is a good example to cap this all off with. He’s a good brother who I’ve met a few times and shared the stage with a while back before he was the Lecrae that many know of today. In short, through attention grabbing record sales, in his last couple of projects he was able to broaden his fan reach from a predominant Christian/ Christian Hip-Hop one into the general Hip Hop market by collaborating with known staples in the general (non-Christian) Hip Hop industry through features, a mixtape and his own recently released album. Now there’s one more entity separate from three forementioned that I won’t get into in this article, and that’s the Music Industry, a beast of its own. Back to Crae. Through years of grinding and most recently coming under scrutiny for his non-Christian Hip Hop collaborations, this brother done went and won a GRAMMY!… for GOSPEL Album of the Year. See Gospel music has been the genre of music that has widely been known to outsiders to embody Christianity and black church culture, but since the Grammy’s did away with the bunched together “Best Christian Rock/ Hip Hop Album” category, the next best thing was the Best Gospel Album, an award and ceremony not even held in the same building as the televised Hip Hop categories. Go figure.
Like I said, Christian Hip Hop is a crazy paradox.
Side Note: Christian Hip Hop has become the more general and modern term for the genre and sub-culture. It is not an official category in Radio, Retail or any other part of the mainstream record industry. Other titles would be Gospel Rap, Gospel Hip Hop and even Holy Hip Hop. Many Christians who rap or are fans reject the title of “Christian Hip Hop” because it contains the term “Hip Hop”.