Gospel rap has always been a tricky concept. Though relatively young as a genre – picking up steam over the last 20 years or so – it has faced its struggles. The mere mention of “faith” is a turnoff for many fans who see hip-hop as an escape from real-world issues. And, we can’t ignore the sad fact of quality control – there have been tons of underwhelming artists whose lack of skill overshadow their message.
To that end, the terms “gospel rap” and “Christian hip-hop” have become tainted, often unfairly linked to a perceived preachiness or cheap, substandard music.
To battle those stereotypes, a new generation of artists have shied away from the gospel rap label entirely, instead considering themselves hip-hop artists whose faith is reflected in their works. Let’s take a look at 10
Christian rappers hip-hop artists whose powerful reflections on their beliefs deserve a home on your playlists.
Some are on the rise, others helped pioneer the genre. And they all have a story to tell.
Easily the most recognizable name on the list for mainstream music fans, Lecrae has pushed Christian rap further than any other artist in recent memory. His willingness to incorporate current trends into his sound makes his music very assessable and his messages more prominent.
Gotta go with my personal fave here. T.R.U.T.H. has spent the last decade reigning as Christian hip-hop’s most consistent artist, dropping new material seemingly every other year and topping gospel charts along the way. Consistency and quality have been the hallmarks of his career.
Fresh off the heels of his new album Perception, NF continues to shine as one of the genre’s brightest stars. NF wears his emotions on his sleeve as he tackles weighty, relatable themes. NF seems to use his music to search for answers to the questions that weigh him down – and he’s happy to take his listeners along for the ride.
The homie Bizzle has never been one to shy away from controversy – he’s lobed lyrical bombshells at both Jay Z and Macklemore in the past. That boldness has been the centerpiece of his nearly decade-long career, where his honest, revealing bars have always been his hallmark.
With just two albums under his belt, Swoope still has plenty of room to grow and he’s brimming with potential. Proving that Da Art of Storytellin’ is still alive, Swoope smartly engages his listeners with lyrical prowess and impressive songwriting skills. I still believe Swoope is next up.
Trip’s a key member of the 116 Clique, which includes standouts like KB, Andy Mineo and Lecrae so you know he’s got heat. And he’s proven it time and again, perhaps most significantly on his stellar 2014 release Rise.
Sho’s The Narrative generated a lot of buzz last year and it’s not hard to see why. His punchlines hit fast and strong but they’re layered with keen wisdom and insight into the world around him.
If lyricism is your thing, get to know Shai Linne immediately. Quietly considered one of the best lyricists in all of hip-hop (no matter the iteration), Shai pairs his theology with impeccable delivery. He’s never at a loss for words, which makes his music so profound.
One of my many criticisms of Christian rap is that, frankly, it’s boring. The artist formerly known as Playdough know the importance of keeping things fun. His group outings with acts like Deepspace5 and Ill Harmonics rarely disappoint.
Soup the Chemist
Though he’s kept a relatively low profile over the years, we’ve gotta salute Soup as one of the pioneers of modern Christian hip-hop. Formerly known as Sup, his work with SFC – Soldiers of Christ – laid the foundation for an entire generation of artists.
This is just scratching the surface of course. Who are your favorites? Show Jurny Big, The Ambassador, Braille and the rest some love in the comments below.