Written by "plastic"
(Josh Niemyjski)
Contributing from
www.sphereofhiphop.com
for the Music Channel
at crosswalk.com


Hip-hop, rap, rap music, Holy hip-hop, Christian rap, Gospel rap -- these are just a few of the labels that emcees in our genre carry. What sets them apart from the world is the fact that they rock microphones for Jesus Christ.

Some fans will say it technically started long before, but groups like P.I.D (Preachers In Disguise), SFC (Soldiers For Christ now Sup the Chemist), JC and the Boys, Freedom of Soul (Peace 586), Dynamic Twins, D-Boy (Rest in peace!), and a few others are the true pioneers of what we now see and hear today.

Sounds and sights have changed. Most often than not it seemed that Christian hip-hop was completely lacking in quality and also in originality to most. The sounds, not all but some, seemed to be several years behind our secular counterparts. Even with the advent of the Internet, the explosion of quality offerings really had not taken a firm grip until the last 2 years. Now it all has changed!

All styles are represented now by Christian emcees! This is a rather misunderstood item by the Christian community at large. Hip-hop is a VERY diverse culture and is as far away from dance/techno/electronic music as you can get! Unfortunately both Hip-hop and the Dance genre get lumped together as a whole when it comes to Dove Award time. Ironically, they are the two largest genres of music happening in the world scene right at this time. This has been the case for several years now.

In 1999, Hip-hop outsold Country to become the #1 selling genre in the United States. According to the RIAA, Hip-hop sold over 98 million albums total compared to #2's 93 million albums for the year ending December 31st, 1999.

I think that those statistics clearly tell the tale and show the discrepancy in the Christian music industry. I could not really say that Hip-hop ranks even in the top 5 genres in Christian music. Something needs to break here for Christians. The trends have been changing in the last two years, maybe a little slow but at least it is progressing in a positive direction.

Whether or not we choose to recognize the facts, Hip-hop music and culture influences culture more than people will give it credit! Baggy pants, many of the brands of clothing people choose to wear (Adidas) and things of this nature are direct influences from Hip-hop. MTV has long been a beacon for what goes on in youth pop culture. This is what kids are surrounded and influenced by. Regardless of some of the questionable content that they run on the network, it is an extremely accurate depiction of what youth are like and what types of music they listen to.

Hip-hop dominates the charts, in so many ways. Why is the Christian industry lagging behind? I would certainly hope that we would actually be ahead of the secular scenes rather than trying to play catch up to the new trends and styles in music.

At the very essence of all of this "music business" for us as Christians is this, we are preparing for the Lord's return and we do not have an infinite amount of time. I choose to look at it as a "sense of urgency". We need to be truly focused on the goal and the end result of winning souls to Christ and also using music as a vehicle to take that message to the masses! Hip-hop for the masses!

Urban culture as mentioned above dominates the times currently in the USA. It influences everything such as how we walk, talk and dress. Why are we missing the boat here?

It is time to become the leaders in this type of music! Hip-hop is the music of our culture that is urban, whether we like that or not. Hip-hop is a very valuable tool for ministry as can be seen by many of the artists that are currently doing so and some of them are finding incredible success at the same time.

Gotee record artists {{Grits}}, have found some incredible success in the places that really matter. Places where large amounts of people can be reached. I had the great pleasure of running a large campaign to raise support for Grits last summer to help make their single "They All Fall Down" make it into regular rotation on MTV. It made it in fact and was the beginning of a long string of successful events for the Nashville based crew. The video was seen by the right people and now they have signed a deal with Palm Records to keep releasing their great music to the general market more readily. They have the talent and skill to be the Christian artists making the most impact in the secular realm period.

The fact that Hip-hop albums currently hold 5 or 6 of the Top 10 spots on the Billboard sales charts is nothing to be ignored. Sadly, I could not say that next to any Christian Hip-hop groups chart even in the Top 25 on Christian sales charts right now. Why the discrepancy?

It is time to enter the Hip-hop arena and enter with force and talented artists that have the potential of reaching that #1 spot on Billboard charts where we find an artist like Eminem. It is not "selling out" in the least bit. We would all agree that it would be fantastic if a group like {{Jars of Clay}} or {{dc Talk}} held that #1 spot on the Billboard charts! Hip-hop is the genre of choice for most of America today.

Continue on to Pt. 2 of this story - HERE