I have been a fan of the site for 5 or 6 years and have never really been prompted to respond. The level of intellectual conversation has been intimidating, to say the least. However, because of my love of hip-hop, I am quite motivated to post up in here.
I'm preparing for a shellacking after I fire a couple shots over the bow, but nevertheless, I'm committed to putting myself in argument's way for the sake of something I believe in deeply.
so in an attempt at preemptive defense; let me start by giving you a short, personal background:
started writing raps in '86
started a group in '91 - Future Shock
put out a demo in '93 - after a couple years of doing live shows
toured with LPG in '94 and '95
co-founded Tunnel Rats in '94
signed with Brainstorm Artist Group in '95 and began releasing records in the "CCM" market '96 (our first album was exec prod by the late, great Gene Eugene.)
"retired" in '06, but still active in hip hop as of Dec '10, opening for Kurtis Blow.
currently working in Social Services for the YMCA - developing hip hop and arts based community programming.
For context, we've (future shock) opened for blackalicious, visionaries, super natural, LMNO. Gigged with LA Symphony - knew them long before they were LA Symphony, the Procussions, DeepSpace 5, Cross Movement, Grits, Boogie Monsters, Pigeon John - after he left LA Symph- and the list goes on.
Sorry to take time with the "bio", but i feel it's necessary to show that I'm not speaking from inexperience - in CCM market or general market.
I have a problem with the whole topic "Hip-hop (Is rap crap?). Does any art form have the ability to become anything more than what its artists intend for it? How is it that Hip-hop is not neutral? The title is more of an indictment - requiring a defense rather than discussion. It immediately puts my position (that rap is far from crap) behind the 8-ball.
@ mrmando: you offended me bro. i know the easy thing to do is to trash "christian rap". for whatever reason it's the "ugly duckling" of CCM. so "fish in a barrel" to you....but you shot out of ignorance. I don't know what your reference point; questioning if anyone "can lay down a solid rhyme", but i guarantee two things about it: 1) limited in scope and 2) out of date.
The reality of Christian's in hip hop is that MANY of them are leaving/have left the CCM world because of misconceptions like yours. It's hard to get any traction when CCM expects the next DC Talk, or KJ52 or whatever. Most are struggling to identify themselves as artists, who have a Christ-centered worldview, rather than "Christian rappers" for the CCM market.
Another thing to consider is that even within our tiny niche, there are those who would feel it necessary to further exclude themselves by creating "HHH Culture"-Holy Hip Hop Culture. That is to say that the single reason these self-identified "Holy Hip Hoppers" chose to rhyme is for pure evangelism. No room for art. Just pure evangelism. These acts are wildly popular among the denominations, therefor have a high visibility in the "Youth Group" Church culture as an accurate representation of "Christian Hip Hop". These well-intentioned individuals actually demonize other Christians in hip hop who don't offer theology through their songwriting.
So there are many struggles getting "a solid rhyme" done by Christian artists to the Church at large. But there are mature, intelligent, polished and relevant Christian MC's - I offer you: shad, propaganda, odd thomas, sojourn, life savas, othello, mr j, DeepSpace 5 (mars ill, manchild, playdough, listener, sintax the terrific, freddie b, sivion), sareem poems, cookbook & uno mas, the breax, ajax starglider, zane one, jurny big, peace5.86 - for starters. Then go and check out sphereofhiphop.com for more "solid rhyme" done by Christians.
These are artists, using their God-given talents, for the expansion of the Kingdom by unconventional means. There are labels that are exclusively devoted to this; Humble Beast, End of Earth, AudiSketchbook, syntax, illect, etc. I think the problem is that it takes work to find these gems. But just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
@ SDG - i'm sure i'm not as smart as you, but it sounded to me like most of your argument was socio-economic class-based, veiled by a "hip hop culture" theme. sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's how it felt to me. didn't seem to be about hip hop music/"Is rap crap?"
@GregP - you sounded like an intellectual looking for street cred. you made some good points though.
I think the great minds on this board, for the most part, treated this topic haphazardly. Without any real experience, study, or understanding you're left to your own reasoning, which for the most part is more theoretical, intellectual and ultimately irrelevant.
Please feel free to fire back. I would love to grow through discourse, dialogue and argument
for more independent intelligent hip hop, check out:
(don't know how to post the video) .
I'm the white guy with the dreadlocks.