It must be hard to be a Christian rapper. I would submit it’s even harder than being a white rapper…or a black hockey player…or an Asian basketball player.
It’s even a bit difficult to admit that I am a closet Christian rap fan, as I am still discovering and weighing the implications of coming out and what it will mean to my family. Of course I don’t claim all Christian rap as thoughtful and creative, just as most alternative rock fans don’t claim Creed as legends of the trade.
But after reading Tim Challies recent blog about “The Strange Phenomenon of White Middle Aged Pastors Who Listen to Rap Music,” some accolades are due from me. Though I was a middle class white guy in high school with no street cred or entourage, Christian rap was a surprising beacon of light for me in those formative spiritual years. With contemporary rap groveling and bowing to a fallen culture, I found there were still a remnant of urban Elijah’s who had not bowed their knees to Baal. The lyrics of Christian rap were Bible saturating, Christ exalting, winsome and refreshing. I would submit to you, the reader, the depth of these men’s rap lyrics makes the current CCM’s “gospel” message look like a puddle of emotional Deism.
So my late great Chevy S-1o was my sanctuary during the high school drama cycle, as I bobbed my big white head (with hair back then) to the beats of “The Ambassador” and “The Cross Movement.” While Eminem and Lil Wayne were the dominating flavors for my HS counterparts, I was listening to the exact antithesis of whatever drug, women and thug experience they were peddling.
Here’s one sample of “The Ambassador’s” lyrical tirades called “Girl Named World” that helped spurn me towards re-evaluating what the world had to offer:
I used to date a girl named, “World.”
Sis was real glamorous arrayed up in diamonds and pearls
She was the baddest, the phattest, she was established
And with her universal status – she had me livin’ lavish
She knew about my sinful habits. She used to feed them
She offered me the fruits of lust (and yep) I used to eat them
She took my freedom. Warnings came, I wouldn’t heed them
And when I mentioned God she said, “Chill you don’t need Him.”
I second-guessed this but then she pulled out those dresses, tight
fittin’ ones made by Mercedes and Lexus
Her neck just exploded with the fragrance of passion
The aroma of fame, fortune, and fashion
Snatching’ my heart she romanced me, my plans be
Lover for life make her, make her my wife, I can’t see…
breaking’ up like I can’t see me in a S girl
This is dedicated to my ex-girl
This passage is dripping with biblical principle, namely this one: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
The Ambassador concludes:
So don’t miss the crucial nature of the crucifixion
With diction I’ll stress this one
If Jesus Christ wasn’t nailed to a cross
If there was no blood lost we’d have to pay our own cost
Who can pay for their own sins
Next to God grown men become little girls with no ends
Daily my mind gets revamped
And on the Lord there’s more concentration than a camp
God stamps His divine approval
On the One who puts God the Son in the forefront on the usual
Fools will bow down to a dead president
And turn around and say there’s no God despite the evidence
I recommend we prepare for the reckoning
and dis the world cause you know she aint your friend
Repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:16-17). Sounds biblically orthodox and culturally relevant to me.
My love for Christian rap waned with my graduation from high school, and I haven’t bought any Christian rap for well over 10 years…until recently, a theologically reformed rapper named LeCrae broke that streak. LeCrae’s “Rehab” album brings me back to my “Cross Movement” days, where rap was both quality to the ears and convicting to the soul.
Now my sanctuary is a red Pacifica, and I’m still bobbing my big white bald head….but I’m doing it with my beautiful wife riding shotgun and two little white boys in the backseat. We’re all bobbing our heads to the beat, thankful that God is bringing all things under subjection to the Lordship of Jesus, even a culture that seems irreversibly broken.
Try to rap along with LeCrae here to one of his best songs; if you succeed give yourself a hug: