White Guys Who Listen to Christian Rap and The Girl Named World

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.

Bryan Daniels

Try to rap along with LeCrae here to one of his best songs; if you succeed give yourself a hug:

“Don’t Waste Your Life” by LeCrae

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

29 thoughts on “White Guys Who Listen to Christian Rap and The Girl Named World”

  1. As soon as I became a believer about 9 years ago as a freshman in college, and could no longer justify listening to Eminem “for the beats”, some friends of mine showed me Cross Movement. From there, it was on to Ambassador, Flame, Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Da Truth. Over the years, I can mark my walk with certain songs that helped define a season for me. The way they fit an entire sermon’s worth (or 2!) of truth into one song astounds and encourages me. Rap lyrics have a certain tendency to get stuck in you head unlike any other genre of music and they’re music has helped me “meditate day and night” on the truths that bring life to my soul. I’m now a “worker” in East Asia and I use these “phat beats” to get people’s attention here (of course, they don’t understand what’s being said) and then I ask them if they’d like a translation. Boom, witnessing to some guy who never had previously heard of Jesus. God is so good! All that said, PTL for these poets over beats who God has taken to use for His purposes.

    1. Wayson,

      Good thoughts! I’d be interested to know (if and what you’re comfortable in sharing) what type of “work” you’re specifically doing over there. You can message me through the “contact form” for private correspondence. Peace!

  2. I’m a white guy who grew up on the East side of San Antonio, TX. So all I ever heard growing up was eminem, Dre, Tupac, South Park Mexican, etc. When I got saved it took me awhile to get into Christian rap because I thought it all was wack! I must say, I would put Flame, Tedashii, or Lecrae on the same lyrical or hype level as any secular rapper today. Flame’s newest CD is awesome, it’s called Captured (I buy all my cds off Amazon.com where they are usually $7.99) All of the whole 116 crew are tight and there are many other Christian rappers that are very talented now, not just the handful like there were a few years ago.

    1. Good comment, Nathan.

      I agree, the quality of many of these Christian rappers either rivals or exceeds their secular counterparts. But their challenging message is never going to quite be mainstream enough for them to get that cred, which why I respect them all the more.
      Had family that used to live in San Antonio…probably my favorite Texas city.

  3. I personally would warn anybody listening to Christian Rap not to just nievly swallow everything they say as truth. I have found many flaws in the lyrics of even the most open quote trusted name in this field close quote, that of CMR. If you do hear the Lords voice then you will favour His word over all. Only then will you see what the truth is. Remember these people are just men like eminem dr dre and so on they can make mistakes. God alone is your refuge, the strong tower to take cover in. let me give you an example one lyric from Higher Definition by Cross says that they are conscience of how they spends Gods loot! They have used this word simply because it rhymes, but why? What’s the motive, has this word described Jesus, has the holy spirit been consulted on the use of this word and approved the description of God as a thief a robber a looter. I dont think so. Jesus says in His own words that every word will be judged that falls from our lips. So exactly how much thought has gone into that rap where God is concerned? It makes one wonder. Is it a bunch of hoods making money hip hop style out of christian America, lets face it, hip hops roots are in the theft of other peoples music and the manipulation there of. So why would God support that philosophy? Also the use of a card game typically found among gamblers of the world to promote Christ??? That is just a couple of points you ought to question and only with the word of God. I know this is deep so you may want to take your time to think these things over even pray about them but remember what Paul said that to follow Christ first is the way and before all men.

    1. Thanks for the comment Stephen!

      I would agree everything must be weighed with the perfect standard of Scripture. That includes Christian rap, Christian country, Christian rock, Southern gospel, sermons etc. These are just men, but many are blood bought born again Christian men, and they have a calling to use their gifts just as a Chris Tomlin uses his. I don’t think one type of music is more holy or culturally valid than another, as long as lyrically they are biblically legit then the rapper has a worthwhile ministry in his music.

      Admittedly, I don’t listen to Christian rap much. I used to listen to Cross Movement and every now and then I listen to LeCrae, other than that I don’t care for much of it anymore. As with everything, we should cling to what is good and discard what is bad according to the Word and our Spirit guided conscience. God will make every thought and word bow down to him in the end, even those of rap lyrics. Thanks again for the thought provoking comment and subscribing!

    2. Two things that I would respectfully point out as wholly incorrect in your ideology:

      1)Is it a bunch of hoods making money hip hop style out of christian America, lets face it, hip hops roots are in the theft of other peoples music and the manipulation there of.

      Hip Hop’s roots are absolutely not what you claim and it is insulting to the community to assume so – the same as it is insulting to flippantly designate them “hoods”. It’s roots, just as the deemed term “christian hip hop”, come from having to create a voice where none was allowed. Ultimately, the culture of hip hop (which started simply as rap music) has absolutely been exploited to the craziest degree, but by the people who “run” the business. No different from a sports agent exploiting a 16 year old right out of high school. You’re young, you’re talented, you’re usually poor…so you’re also open to doing whatever it takes to “make it”.

      2) So why would God support that philosophy? Also the use of a card game typically found among gamblers of the world to promote Christ???
      While it may not sit well with many, Jesus did meet people exactly where they were. He never forced anyone to be as lofty as he was but he always created the atmosphere for a new mindset. There is a subset of neglected peoples that live in a way completely foreign to most — except those designated “hoods” you mentioned. They are being reached by being met where they are, through honesty and transparency, and through the living Word (i.e. the written word being applied).

      I personally know some great men and women in Christian hip-hop and they don’t take their duties lightly…which are to spread the gospel and respect the text.

      But off that soapbox, if you are truly into hip-hop you can also check out Laviosier, Bizzle…there’s a couple others whose names escape me right now.

  4. I was just recently introduced to LeCrea and his music is just wow! I too am a white, middle class class guy who loves Christian rock, country, and now I can enjoy rap in my Jetta! Great post!

  5. Great post. I too am a white guy lol… It is nice to see so many appreciating this kind of hip hop thats out there. I too had only heard about Lecrae and Trip Lee, but in hearing Lecrae’s new mixtape I have learned of alot of great uncompromising hip hop artist: Propoganda, Odd Thomas, Braille, etc… They all rap on one track called Misconception on his new mixtape and it is awesome!!!!! I don’t know I you guys have heard of them but I’m sure you would appreciate the lyrics.When I heard it I was blown away! I had to get them up on my site. you would not believe how many views on my page I have had since posting the lyrics and the video of the track… It shows how many people feel the same way we do! It’s awesome! http://fulltulip.com/2012/05/11/misconception-by-lecrae-lyrics-mixtape/ – not to promote my blog, but its on topic lol, sry! 🙂

  6. i hate to ruin the rap party here, but i guess i m too old. i hate rap beats. now i love the words you have shown here, so could they make that into an old person’s style of listening music??? i know you are laughing right now. lol

  7. Oh my gosh!
    I love LeCrae, Ambassador, 116 Clique and all of them..I was actually “rapping” along to the lyrics and bobbing my head, clearly not noticing the guy sitting next to me all confused looking..ha ha!
    I’ve also actually done a post called “A Girl Named World”..lol..I think it was listening to some of their stuff that I got the idea for the title and I wrote it in 2010..it’s not rap..but I remember the state of mind I was in when I wrote it..(here’s the link if you wana take a look: http://originalapplejunkie.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/day-thirty-a-girl-named-world/ =D)

  8. While I can appreciate the message and have even liked some older DC talk stuff, I just can’t get into rap of any kind, Christian or otherwise. I just can’t bring myself to even consider it “music.” But props to you for supporting it! 🙂

  9. HA HA! I had to laugh because my kids are amazed that I’ve discovered a couple of Christian rap artists that I like, including Lecrae whose video I posted a couple of weeks ago on my blog! Guess you CAN teach old dogs, ahem, middle-aged white women new tricks!

  10. What happened to that East LA Christian Latin gangsta rap band from the late 90s? What was the name again? Are there more? I used to live in east Hollywood…

  11. Man…I go back to the Sugar Hill days. Bryan…can make anything spiritual out of “It’s like a jungle sometimes it make me wonder why I keep from going under”? If LaCrea does not make it in the music industry, he certainly has a career as an auctioneer.

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