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Rap Music or “Crap” Music?

March 24, 2016

written by Erin Diaz

Unfortunately, in the Christian sphere, rap music gets a bad wrap.

I'm not really sure when this "rap is bad" stigma began in the church, but I do know that if you Google "first rap song", Rapper's Delight by The Sugarhill Gang (1979) pops up. Google (aka Wikipedia, aka a very trustworthy person) tells us this about Rapper's Delight: "While it was not the first single to feature rapping, it is generally considered to be the song that first popularized hip hop in the United States and around the world."

Basically, Google is telling us that rap began in 1979. "Christian rap/hip hop", after researching, began in the 1980's. Stephen Wiley released the first full-length Christian hip hop album Bible Break in 1985. With the words "Praise the Lord for goodness' sake, we're all about to take a bible break!" the Christian rap game began, as well as a lot of controversy.

I haven't really been around long enough to know the progression of how rap in general got a bad stigma in the church, but I think it's a major bummer. 

This is a bummer to me because I feel as though rap is important, and it is important because it has shaped a culture. There are more recent rappers such as Kanye, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar, who are known not only for their music, but for who they are as individuals, what they wear, what their music videos are like, etc. Their music has progressed a movement that rappers throughout the past few decades were the catalysts for (i.e. Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G.). Because of past artists, more recent artists have shoulders to stand on, therefore all of the aforementioned artists have had some sort of influence on what our culture is today.

When discussing recent important rappers, the Christian artist Lecrae cannot go unmentioned. Over the past decade he has won two Grammys and seven Dove awards. Along with those, he is the first hip hop artist to win the Grammy for Best Gospel Album and the first rapper to win the BET award for Best Gospel Artist. With these awards, Lecrae bridges a gap between the often negative Christian perspective on rap and the possibility that rap in all realms is not only relevant, but vital to our culture’s growth.

And this is where my mindset has to be challenged. As a "young person" and especially as a Christ follower, I cannot ignore the fact that the rap industry is influential. I don't necessarily have to love it or believe in it, but I do have to try to understand it rather than shy away from it because it may be a little out of the church’s comfort zone. By listening to it and engaging in any kind of rap from time to time, we (believers or non-believers) have the ability to see its influence on anyone.

The whole point of this blog post is to say that rap music does not have to be seen as "bad", but instead, it should be understood. Rap is not all sex, drugs and money - the genre is filled with lyrics about social issues and life in general. Rap may not be your cup of tea, but it is not something to look down upon either. It's important. It's a part of our lives.

That's a wrap.

R.I.P. Tupac (but we know you're still out there).