When hip hop music first emerged in America, it was associated with the gangster lifestyle. Over the years, this notion has been demystified. Many Christian rap artists now use this genre of music for evangelization, encouragement, and inspiration. Christian rappers started sprouting in society in the 1980s, and since then, they have continued to release quality faith-based tracks. Today, some Christian rappers have soared great heights in the music industry and have been honoured with numerous globally coveted awards.
Since Stephen Wiley released the first original Christian rap track in 1986, the genre has had numerous artists. These musicians have been coming up with carefully selected lyrics that promote the word of God and inspire people at the same time. Here is a look at the top Christian rappers today.
Bizzle, originally known by his stage name Lavyss, is perhaps one of the most controversial Christian rappers today. The artist's birth name is Mark Julian Felder. He was born on July 21, 1983, and caught the world's attention in 2010 when he released the song You Got Some Explaining to Do.
The song called out renowned rapper Jay Z for his negative references to Christianity and Jesus. In January 2014, he caused a stir again when he released the single titled Same Love (A Response.) The song was a response to Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. In the lyrics, he criticized the media for promoting homosexuality and using the blacks' civil rights struggle to support gay rights.
In 2013, he won the Music Video of The Year, Rap Single of The Year, and Hip-Hop Album of The Year awards at the Kingdom Choice Awards event.
Here are some of the rapper's best tracks.
Crowns and Crosses (2016)
Light Work (EP) (2018)
Light Work 2: Bars & Melodies (2019)
9. Derek Minor
Derek Johnson, Jr. was born on December 16 1984, in Pontiac, Michigan. He first used the stage name PRo before changing it to Derek Minor.
Growing up, Derek did not relate well with both his biological father and his stepdad. The latter was a drug user, a fact that led to the strained relationship between him and a young Derek.
Today, Minor is a rapper and a record producer, actor, entrepreneur, and screenwriter. In addition, he is a co-founder of the world-renowned Reflection Music Group.
The rapper also produced Anomaly, which won the Rap Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year at the 2015 Stellar Awards. He also won a Best Gospel Album Grammy Award in 2013 for producing the album Gravity. Here are the rapper's album releases.
The Blackout (2008)
Dying to Live (2011)
The Trap (2018)
By Any Means (2021)
Highlight Tapes, Vol. 1 (2021)
Tedashii is inarguably among the best-known Christian rappers today. He was born Tedashii Lavoy Anderson on March 8 1977, in Lufkin, Texas. He made his music debut in 2005 as a part of the 116 Clique associated with the renowned label, Reach Records.
While the rapper's energetic delivery captures most people's attention, his lyrics often hint at a deeper story behind his music and himself. The artist's style is characterized by his uniquely deep voice.
Here is a look at Tedashii's music albums.
Kingdom People (2006)
Identity Crisis (2009)
Below Paradise (2014)
Never Fold (2019)
Toby McKeehan, commonly known as TobyMac, has released some of the best Christian rap albums in the world today. He has also won multiple awards for his Christian hip hop jams.
TobyMac was born to devout Christian parents on October 22 1964, in Virginia. When growing up, the artist fell in love with hip hop. In 1987, Toby formed the group DC Talk with Kevin Max Smith and Michael Tait. The group ended in 1999, marking the beginning of Toby's solo career.
TobyMac has won a whopping eight Grammys, the first one being back in 1993. In 2008, he won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album, in 2012 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and in 2015 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
Here is a look at Toby's album releases.
Re: Mix Momentum (2003)
Welcome to Diverse City (2004)
Renovating->Diverse City (2005)
Portable Sounds (2007)
Alive and Transported (2008)
Christmas in Diverse City (2011)
Eye on It (2012)
This Is Not a Test (2015)
Hits Deep Live (2016)
Light of Christmas (2017)
The Elements (2018)
The St. Nemele Collab Sessions (2019)
TobyMac Collection (2020)
Live in Denver (2021)
6. Trip Lee
William Lee Barefield III, commonly known as Trip Lee, was born on December 17 1987, in Dallas, Texas. Besides rapping, he is also a singer, author, poet, and young adult pastor at Concord Church.
The 34-year-old artist first caught the attention of people when he featured on the Reach Records website aged 16. He later released his debut album, If They Only Knew, shortly after his high school graduation.
Although Lee has released many albums, his third one, titled Between Two Worlds, contained some of the best Christian rap songs to date. It won the Best Hip Hop Album award at the 2011 Stellar Awards and got nominated for two Dove Awards.
Here is a look at the rapper's studio albums.
If They Only Knew (2006)
Between Two Worlds (2010)
The Good Life (2012)
The Waiting Room (2016)
Kevin Elijah' KB' Burgess was born on July 21 1988, in St. Petersburg, Florida. His family then relocated to southern Illinois, where KB grew up for about eight years.
After graduating from high school, he joined a Bible college where he met other rappers with whom he formed the hip-hop group HGA, which is an acronym for His Glory Alone.
KB signed with Reach Records in 2010 and later worked alongside the world-famous rapper Lecrae on the track titled Go. Since then, KB has released numerous tracks as a solo artist. However, he is still part of HGA.
As a solo artist, he has released a few albums, an extended play, a collaborative album, and a mixtape. Here is a look at the rapper's music albums.
Weight & Glory (2012)
Delegated & Dedicated (2013)
Tomorrow We Live (2015)
Today We Rebel (2017)
His Glory Alone (2020)
Marcus Tyrone Gray is Flame's real name. The American Lutheran Christian hails from St. Louis, Missouri. He was born on September 16 1981. When Flame was much younger, he would write raps as his devotionals, especially in his free time. He later converted these devotionals into hip hop music.
It was not long before Cross Movement Records noticed him and offered him some support to publish his music. Flame released his debut self-titled album under the recording label. He went on to release four more albums with the label before launching his own, which is known as Clear Sight Music.
Here is a look at Flame's album releases.
Our World: Fallen (2007)
Our World: Redeemed (2008) – This collection was nominated for a Grammy as well as GMA Dove and Stellar awards.
The 6th (2012)
Royal Flush (2017)
God Knows (2018)
Extra Nos (2020)
3. Andy Mineo
Andy is a video director, producer, music executive, actor, minister, and Christian rapper. To most people, he is best known for being a part of the group 116 Clique. The rapper was born in Syracuse, New York, on April 17 1988, is currently signed to Reach Records.
Although he was always a believer in Jesus, Andy realized that he was spiritually weak after his campus years. He shut down his studio at some point, giving himself some time off to strengthen his Christian faith.
Afterwards, he re-launched his music career and has since released some albums as a solo artist. Here is a brief look.
Formerly Known (2012)
Heroes for Sale (2013)
Magic & Bird (2017)
Work in Progress (2019)
Never Land (2014)
Nathan John 'NF' Feuerstein was born on March 30 1991, in Gladwin, Michigan, United States of America. His stage name, often stylized as ИF, is derived from his first and last names.
The rapper was brought up by his mother for much of his childhood after her divorce from NF's father. Fans of Christian rap can easily recognize NF's music from his catchy beats and relatable lyrics. However, his father later took custody of him after realizing that his ex-wife's boyfriend was abusing Nathan.
In 2009, his mother died from prohibited substances, so he dedicated his jam, How Could You Leave Us, to her. The track highlighted his emotional confusion centred on wondering why his mother loved drugs more than she loved him.
Today, NF says that his bad experiences helped shape the God-loving person he is today. The rapper currently has six albums to his name.
Therapy Session (2016)
The Search (2019)
Clouds (The Mixtape) (2021)
In 2016 and 2017, he bagged two prizes at the GMA Dove Awards in the categories of Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year (Therapy Session) and Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year (Oh Lord), respectively.
Top on the list of Christian rappers today is Lecrae. The artist's full name is Lecrae Devaughn Moore. He was born in Houston, Texas, on October 9, 1979, and has since become one of the most influential gospel artists of all time.
Besides rapping, Lecrae is the head and co-founder of Reach Records, a label that has signed some of the best faith-based rappers in the United States of America.
Lecrae was born and brought up by a single mother, and his grandmother would often take him to the church On Sundays. In his younger years, the two-time Grammy winner was s*exually assaulted by a babysitter. He also got into substance abuse at some point.
To cope with the pain caused by physical abuse, drug use, and neglect, he turned to music. The rapper often uses his experiences to encourage and inspire young people through rap music.
Here is a look at Lecrae's albums.
Real Talk (2005)
After the Music Stops (2006)
Rehab: The Overd*se (2011)
All Things Work Together (2017)
Let the Trap Say Amen (2018) – This album was done with Zaytoven