having labored over my hiphop for over a decade, working tirelessly to convince the world that christians can be fresh, i find it a bit discouraging to read through this thread.
it seems that very few people have a true sense of the current state of creative and/or artistic hip hop. not many people seem to know of any artists that are truly craftsmen, christian, and RAPPER. that's frustrating because almost everyone i know is just that, an artist and a christian.
almost 10 years ago we, FUTURE SHOCK, released a record under Brainstorm Artist Group. Our album, Remember the Future, was executive produced by the late Gene Eugene. It came at a time when we, as christian hiphop kids, were fed up with the message of the "secular" music scene, and unimpressed with the offerings of their "christian" counterparts. it was around that time that people like pigeon john, and la symphony, and other west coast underground heads began to seriously push into the culture of hip hop and work for change. our good friend pigeon john called a few months ago and left us a most encouraging message. he was listening to our first record, Remember...., and was convinced that we should re-release it because "people need to hear this album". very lofty praise, indeed. we were deeply influenced, musically speaking, by the native tongue's, roots, freestyle fellowships, etc. we thought that the key to expressing our christian worldview was by reflecting the image of a creative God. we labored over content and meaning, on phrasing and depth, creativity and relevance. we were convinced that we would affect change in the market place. needless to say the market place was underwhelmed with our effort. we sold only 2,000 units. we were just one group of many who were in it to see lives changed, but also keenly aware of our artistic self and uncompromising in message and method. for those who aren't aware, things have changed dramatically.
now, pigeon john is making serious strides within the culture of progressive hip hop. pigeon, along with; la symphony, mars ill, listener, ds5, etc., are now sharing the stage with some of the culture's most influential acts. what's impressive to me about that is not that the "message" is now accessible to the intelligent underground, but rather, these artists are accepted on merit of their skill and creativity. that may sound backwards, but trust that it is quite an accomplishment AND it is quite a powerful witness. as a result, direct or indirect, we are seeing people like moodswing, adeem, qwel, cats from living legends, and others develop relationships with artists that they respect and admire AND are christian. this is victory.
american hip hop, and pop culture for that matter, has been innundated (sp?) with the "gospel message". pushed to the point of nausea, they have heard the rhetoric and SEEN the hypocrisy. they only respect authenticity and sincerity. the gospel must be lived out in full view of the culture. we have been able to reach people through our art by staying true to who we are as christians, letting our worldview inform our art, and not compromising the integrity of the culture of hip hop.
in some ways i have been hanging on to music, doing hiphop, in hopes of the christian community recognizing the artform as intelligent and creative expressions of faith. and it is because of that hope that i was able to find this site and share so much common ground with intelligent, informed people of faith. i hope you can return the favor and check out some intelligent, artistic people of faith who happen to express their worldview through hip hop.
thanks for your time