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I love hip hop and rap music. Back when I was just a beardless chubby heathen I would listen to crazy southern rappers like Crime Mob and Lil Jon. I loved T.I., Eminem, and Nas. I remember being really young and glued to the TV over the Tupac vs. Biggie beef (I was team Biggie for obvious reasons. Bad Boy for life!) Well as the typical story goes, I became a Christian and what was mainstream for Christian Hip Hop was a joke at best. I am not going to name names because they are good brothers in the Lord and I have met some of them personally and they really do have a love for Christ and a passion for the Gospel that is seen visibly in their lives and in their work. However, I was not feeling them musically.
I went on this hardcore music path for about 2 or 3 years listening to Underoath, As Cities Burn, and For Today. It was fun but there was definitely a cultural confusion in me. I would be rocking Tall Tees in mosh pits and people didn’t know what to do with me. That is when I showed up at Trinity College of Florida and met Kevin Burgess. You may know him as rapper KB from Reach Records. He and his friends became my friends and I learned a whole new world of Hip Hop that was not only stylistically great but was also biblically sound.
Since then I have had the privilege of going to dozens of concerts and building a library of solid hip hop music that glorifies God and promotes the Gospel. Here is a top ten list for those of you who may have never stepped foot in the Hip Hop world or want a good album to give to that student that is a bit more “urban” than you are.
If you know anything about Christian Hip Hop you probably have seen or heard this guy. He has been featured on BET and has been upsetting the mainstream Hip Hop world for a while. He released Church Clothes in May as a free mixtape. It was considered the most important album in Christian Hip Hop History. It was downloaded over 100,000 times in less than 48 hours. He since dropped his album Gravity this past September at debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and No. 1 under Rap, Christian, and Independent Albums. Download Church Clothes for Free or go buy Lecrae on iTunes.
If I could define Trip Lee in one word it would be “smooth”. The guys flow is so smooth and unique that you just want to keep listening because there is no one else that raps like this guy. I love this guy a lot because he is transparent and kingdom minded. He just came out with his final album “The Good Life” and followed up with a book to go a long with it. He said he is taking a break from music. However, there is plenty of good music for us to enjoy. One of my favorite tracks and music videos of all time is The Invasion (Hero). His down south Texas swag makes him one of my favorites! His passion for Christ and desire to serve his church over music makes me even more in love with this guy! Buy Trip Lee on iTunes.
Little known fact. I am in a hip hop music video. I show up in the “Zone Out” music video with about 20 or so of my good friends from Tampa at about the 1:35 mark. I have seen KB grow up from this kid who would wear over-sized shirts and rap in church parking lots, to rocking out 10,000 per stadiums with Lecrae. His music is amazing! His album, Weight and Glory, does what the title says, tries to capture the weight and glory of who God is. If I could vouch for someone on this list, I can really only do it for this guy. I have done real life with this guy. What you hear in his music he really does live out. He has a passion to share Jesus to the world. He just happens to be gifted with the ability to rap, so he takes full advantage of that for the Glory of God. Go get his music and Zone Out for a while! Buy KB on iTunes.
Can I be really honest here. I am very critical of white rappers. Just because, for me historically, white rappers have been jokes. It can work in the secular world with Eminem. However, we have seen pure cheesiness when our Caucasian brothers begin to rap (anyone remember Carmen?). Well this guy shatters any concerns of cheesiness. He first grabbed my attention when he came out with “In My City“, which is like an athem song to see revival in your city and neighborhood. After Reach Records signed him to their label he came out with an album called “Formerly Known“. He is fun, humours word play, and just raw talent. One of my favorite tracks is Young which features KB! Buy Andy Mineo on iTunes.
Maybe it is because he is a big guy like me. Maybe it is because he just makes heave hood music. I don’t know what it is but I love Thi’sl. I actually first heard about this guy from watching a YouTube video of him sharing the gospel to a Muslim. If you want to see a good glimplse of his heart and his background, watch this mini-documentary he made. It explains his upbringing and how he went from a drug dealer selling Cocaine to a Hip Hop missionary sharing the gospel to thousands of people across the country and getting people out of the “Trap”. Buy Thi’sl on iTunes.
You may know him from his super epic video on the Gospel produced by Dare2Share. This poet/rapper/lyricist has been on many of the big conference circuits and is currently on tour with The Unashamed Tour. His latest project “Excellent” still broke the Billboard top 200 even though the album could be downloaded for free from their website. I can honestly say that there is nothing else like this out there that I am aware of in the Christian Music industry. Super original and provacative. Buy Propaganda on iTunes or download it for free from HumbleBeast.com
This group is newer but the rappers in the group have been around for awhile. They were featured on Lecrae’s Church Clothes on the track “Misconception“. They came out with an amazing album called Satellite Kite. One of my favorite tracks is Anchor featuring Josh Garrels. Buy Beautiful Eulogy on iTunes or download it for free from HumbleBeast.com.
Shai Linne is an icon. He has been in the Christian Hip Hop world since the early 2000’s. If you want good classic hip hop, turn in Shai Linne. If you want to teach propitiation and expiation to your students, turn on Shai Linne. The guy shouldn’t be a rapper, he should be a professor at a seminary. This is one of my students favorite rappers because he makes theology exciting and epic. It is hard to find a favorite track. It is hard to find a favorite Album. In 2005 he had “The Solus Christus Project” which was great. In 2008 he came out with two amazing albums, Storiez and The Atonement Two unique albums, however both saturated in scripture and theology. His most recent album, “The Attributes of God” brought a new level of production and style to Shai Linne’s already awesome discography. Buy Shai Linne on iTunes.
If there is one guy who I always enjoy seeing live, it is Tedashii. There is something about his deep booming voice and his large stature that makes his live shows so crazy. It seems like he has 1 or 2 iconic songs on every album he puts out! Though “Go Hard” is technically a Lecrae song, when I hear it, I think about Tedashii’s verse and every football game I ever played. “Dum Dum“, “26’s“, “Make War“, and “I’m a Believer” are all classics that make me want to get up and either start dancing or go work out! Tedashii is great for pre-youth group service music! Buy Tedashii on iTunes.
I love this guy. If you don’t know who he is, don’t sweat it but get to know him. Every feature he is on is pure gold. If I hear Swoope is on an album, I will go out my way to listen to that track first before anything else. His flow and wordplay are off the charts! His album “Wake Up” shook the Christian Hip Hop world with his transparency and honesty. Buy Swoope on iTunes.
There is a great website to keep up with all things Christian Hip Hop. It is pretty much the only place on the web you would ever need to go to for this: Rapzilla.com