Christian Hip Hop, also known as CHH is what we are looking at today! If you are asking yourself "why the stigma behind this certain subject?", you should probably come to a conclusion that the answer to that question is not one to be assumed or brushed away. The truth is, there isn't an officially professional answer. There is a debatable discussion in between the lines of the so called "stigma." I took it upon myself to really dig deeper, not because I want to judge or create controversy but because I too am a fan of this particular genre of music. As for the origin of Hip Hop, that in itself, is something I will discuss in part two of this article. Lets begin shall we?
If you know CHH then you know it is a genre based on Hip Hop, but with a twist. CHH is about the Gospel which makes sense considering it is "Christian" Hip Hop. Hip Hop, which is derived from a history of self worth and political ambition, is a genre that was not accepted into the church for years. Now it is being embedded into the Christian community. Should this be a shock to you? No! Music is a movement in itself. It is impossible to think that all walks of life would not be present to infuse their own style of the gospel and footprint into such a community.
There is more to this story, but knowing all we do for God and His commands for us, why are so many walking away from the label of "Christian Rapper." Is it truly better to address them as rappers who are Christian? Either way the play on words cannot be good for the advancement of the Kingdom. I've spoken with a couple of artists involved in this genre. These artists are fixtures in the community as well as obviously hurt and disconnected human beings. You see, to have walked away from any such calling on your life has to come with it's reasons and if you are at all worried about the state of the Christian community then this should be insightful.
I had the chance to speak with a plethora of artists, some of which you may or may not know. Some swayed on the side of love being the most omnipresent factor to their answer. I think its important to tell you that what brought me here was the shocking statements from the artists I used to see all the time being very active in the community and who made an impact no doubt, yet months later they are posting statements to their social media sites denouncing either their faith or resigning from the all too "judgmental" genre we call CHH.
CHH has been called disgusting, dead, and confusing. Therefore, you can see why such division has made it's way into the community. Artists who understand the calling on their lives state "Alot of the things God set us out to do aren't the most comfortable." We have seen artists leave due to lack of support, money and reach.
Matthew Twine of Ministry Minded Media says this about reach.. "How and why would God expand your reach if you are not even attempting to touch the people that are literally within arms length of you?'' His question to every artist is, "Are we focused on entertaining or building relationships?"
Sevin of Hog Mob Ministries speaks boldly on this topic and the hurt we as Christians are inflicting on the Gospel itself. In reference to self gain and misuse of the platform God bestowed upon artists he states, "Using freedom to do what we are doing to each other is disgusting, we are taking this beautiful bride and trying to turn her into a whore." His plea is that we find our identity in God and not our audience.
The question still remains, why the separation and division? I have been told it is due to wealth, stage and label signing. Why denounce the "CHH" label just to sign to a record deal? Is this the Great Commission? Or are we stepping out of line just to make money?
Whether it be about the amount of support or money, some still stand firmly on the belief that their stage is "God's stage to control". But with a lack of support from other artists, many are flocking to the record label dream.
Is it that they believe they can reach the masses without the "Christian Rapper" label? Far be it for me to assume that your effectiveness could be based off of one label in a community that has lost its way from the original purpose of even uttering one word of the Gospel onto a beat that was more than likely produced by a believer. What stands to be said is that some have left this genre due to the actions of christians in the community. A lack of inner support and deceitfulness have almost destroyed what is still a new genre.
This dirty stigma is clouding something that could be so beautiful if we worked together. If you have to see the growth in self worth before you see that souls are lost and need saving, then you have already placed a mark on your brand. If you live for people's acceptance, do you die by their rejection? I didn’t want to call out artists or even name artists who see it differently, this is really a call for soldiers to stand firmly and mend the self inflicting divide that has been placed upon the Christian community before it is too late. Judging by some actions, it may already seem that way.
If you haphazardly infringed upon CHH because of ill gotten pipe dreams, you thought that Bizzle would be calling you, or better yet Reach Records would be at your door step, please know that you have been mistaken. Selfish reasoning can lead to your destruction. If you are looking for support in a genre that isn't based off of money then you are in the wrong genre. Of course dreams, aspirations and even success can be found through doors open by Christ if your heart is right.
Entrepreneurship is always welcomed and encouraged. No one said that growth and success would happen over night but when it does, God gets the glory. If you are in this genre because you love it, I pray you find that fire before it gets fanned out. At one point, people like me looked to your music for guidance and understanding. God called us to be set apart. I personally believe that respect is still needed for artists that have taken the leap from faith.
I leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis, "One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience's mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity, not because it is true but because it is good... One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing that it cannot be is moderately important."
As for your gift and why God chose you, C.S. Lewis says
So I urge you, instead of trying to figure it out... be supportive. Don’t worry about being relevant. Relevance is not what will save lives. Be present and loving. I hope you find meaning and reasoning behind this and it helps you to be insightful. I definitely took a lot out of it. We should not step away from a lane that was paved by the Creator.
Embrace it and all that comes with it.
The one thing that observers of CHH can see from the outside looking in is a lack of faith, trust, support and remaining true to the calling on your life as an artist. I recently brought the state of CHH up in our OmniGod Group Chat. The discussion was well needed because as believers we see the down fall of a genre. A culture that was once a strong presence in lives that relate to what the artist is doing. One thing my Content Manager Ruby mentioned to me about the "easy" response she sees is "when we are being tested as believers and artists, immediately we run. We get mad and instead of leaning on God, we lean on ourselves to do things our way, rather than taking the responsibility. "God gives the victory".
Let me fight forward and see what He has for us." The one question that really needs to be addressed is, "why do we crumble so easily?" This debate can cause confusion and doubt. Once that sets in, it can lead to baby believers walking away. It is important that we set aside the notion that not being supported by our own community is not the main reason you do what you do.
I was on facebook and I saw a CHH artist that walked away from it all because he found more support from the world than from the CHH community. I watched as he crushed his old cd's and cursed God's name. This was upsetting and made me question the motives of artists in CHH. I read my bible and came across a scripture trying to understand it all. We have to keep in mind that God calls His believers to be unified instead of continually fighting our own.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven."
Not only does God fix the standard and withhold or dispense satisfaction, he also appoints "seasons and times." Earthly pursuits are good in their proper place and time but unprofitable when pursued as the chief goal. God has a calling and purpose for everyone. If you leave that purpose due to lack of support from the community, then you are doing it for the wrong reason. God has a time and place for you coming up. The key is to relax and don't react in haste to negative emotions or doubt.
Psalms 35:5 "Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him."
In other words give your all to God and completely trust that He sees your work and purpose. Faith in the calling on your life has to be acted upon and we can't just be expectant of the blessing. Faith without works is dead may seem cliché but there is definitely truth in it.
Last but not least, you have to believe in yourself and the plan God has for you. Live this with love. Your heart has to be in it.
1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now abide faith, hope and, love, these three but the greatest of these is Love."
You see, loving what you do will cover the emotions of not being fully compensated for your efforts. Love is the key to understanding what you do and why you do it. In all we do, keep the same mind and judgement. The source of true unity is God's word which establishes the standard of truth on which true unity rests.