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HeatCasters Exclusive: 4 Artists That Should Get Kicked Out of Christian Hip Hop (And Crossover) By Imade
Another exclusive editorial from Imade as she discusses CHH and some of its more transcending artists and their potential to impact Hip Hop music overall. A dope piece featuring the theBreax, StefanOtto, Japhia Life and Jerry Blackwell.
4 Artists That Should Get Kicked Out of Christian Hip Hop (And Crossover)
Written by Imade
Before going “secular” was a cute nickname for Satan, secular was a strategic ministry. Back in the day, (like around the 1st century) a man named Paul had a dilemma: only serve the Jewish community (which was more culturally accepted) or serve the Gentiles and follow the burden that God put on his heart (Acts 13:46-48). Flash forward a few thousand years and the same battlefield remains. We all know those emcees that seem out of place in “Christian Hip Hop”. Whether it’s their inability to adhere to cultural norms or their struggle to be accepted by Christian Hip Hop gatekeepers, their man-made CHH label can often constrict their God given art. In order to avoid the inevitable crash and burn of not fitting into a genre they was never made to conform to, I recommend that the following artists pull a “Shad” and balance their CHH ministry with a more targeted focus on secular audiences.
In all honesty, theBreax is a Christian group discovered by non-Christians. Whether it was their Rawkus 50 Presents debut or Ruslan’s Eye Am Gangster Jay-Z remix album, theBreax has always been relevant in the mainstream. Even their use of satire and explicit “did he say that lyrics” *cough usually from Beleaf cough* seems more palatable to listeners who think outside of culturally Christian norms. Since their popularity in Christian Hip Hop through their “ain’t this an album?” mixtapes and their Never Arrive commercial project, feedback of their music often derails into trivial arguments over Christian cuss words like “balls” or “hella” and not the biblical principles that theBreax so passionately express . Though these discussions are inevitable, it could be a sign that these critics are not the people theBreax are ultimately responsible for ministering to. With their success in opening up for Hip Hop legends like Mob Deep and Raekwon, theBreax have a unique ministry approach that I hope they continue. Twitter Facebook Website
StefanOtto has the makeup of a quintessential “crossover” artist: a limited use of Jesus bombs, an expansive social consciousness, and production that typically veers away from the Hip Pop standard of widely known Christian Rap. With two albums under his belt including his most recent Love Means War, a persistent complaint seems to linger over his underrated career: it’s not ministry enough. This label has the ability to negate everything an artist achieved when their message has to be unearthed in order to be understood. With adept lyricism and metaphorical themes, StefanOtto’s music is not made for the microwave generation or over-eager theologians. His music lies somewhere in between. StefanOtto’s confining criticism points to a pasture in the backpacker circuit where spiritually hungry individuals search for truth. These listeners want to be engaged not just with their ears, but with their minds and hearts. With StefanOtto’s poetic, storyteller approach to Hip Hop, I feel his career can be fully valued and appreciated among lovers of Hip Hop lyricism. Twitter Facebook Website
I don’t know about you, but reading Japhia Life’s Twitter timeline makes me want to give him a Jesus Loves You Snuggie and a number to my therapist. His bemoaning on Christian music’s lack of creativity is a shared sentiment, but also a glaring indication that Japhia Life may need a Christian Hip Hop vacation. Since his first legendary project, Pages Of Life, Japhia’s career pointed to Nas more than Cross Movement. After three albums, most including dark, gritty tales of life’s struggles, it seems as if Japhia Life has hit a musical ceiling. With the production of Nazareth coming up stale in some spots (certain songs were released years before the 2010 album), Japhia is in need of a sonic revolution that bring his passionate lyrics to life. Hopefully on the forthcoming Westside Pharmacy album, Japhia can be given an inspirational muse that makes this project groundbreaking on a global level. Twitter Tumblr
Being the lovechild of Common and Joe Budden, Jerry Blackwell is the definition of a backpacker emcee. He wears baby sized snapbacks and only done one hook in his whole career. Okay, those are exaggerations, but Jerry Blackwell is a lover of Hip Hop with an unbridled purist approach. His debut album Reality Check showcased Jerry’s lyricism in the allegory, Birds & Bees, and his unrestrained fervor in the anti-abortion anthem, Have Me. Even his dedication to his future wife in the form of his latest EP, Hello Forever, has Jerry Blackwell in prime lyrical form. In these projects though, the Christian community shouldn’t be the only group enjoying his music. Jerry Blackwell’s Oxford theology studies make him a dynamic tool in reaching Christian skeptics. In his respect for Hip Hop poets, Jerry’s knowledge could be a connective tissue between Hip Hop purists and the church. It’s apparent that Jerry Blackwell’s ministry extends beyond “Youth Nite” services and into the intellectual sphere. Twitter Bandcamp
Though Christian culture has demonized secular music, it’s time to view the word ‘secular’ as a ministry approach and an audience needing to encounter God. In this new year, I hope these artists are given more opportunities to reach the lost and fulfill their potential as Hip Hop ministers.
What Christian Hip Hop artists should focus more on secular audiences in 2012?
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