Guest / Limited Access /
Holy Hip-Hop Grows Up

If you wanted to trace the roots of Christian hip-hop, I'd tell you all about dc Talk.

At age 13, following a Geoff Moore and the Distance concert, I stood up to commit myself to Jesus, despite the voice inside my head that said the boys in my youth group would think I was a dork for doing so. Riding home in the backseat that night, I felt my heart "strangely warmed," and I've been a Jesus freak ever since.

Soon after that concert in 1996, I naturally wanted to listen to music about Jesus—and being a teenager in the mid-'90s, I had plenty to choose from. This was arguably the golden era of contemporary Christian music (CCM), when you could hear Jars of Clay's "Flood" and Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me" on secular radio, and Tooth & Nail Records and bands like MxPx and Starflyer 59 made it possible to be both cool and Jesus-y.

dc Talk's Jesus Freak album had recently gone double platinum, debuting at 16 on the Billboard charts. Mixing rock, pop, and hip-hop, it was a derivative of Nirvana and A Tribe Called Quest, calling American Christians to stand up for truth when debates about prayer in public schools threatened to silence them. (Then again, we always had See You at the Pole.) I listened to the CD nonstop.

That dc Talk copied secular artists for evangelistic ends fit them neatly into the history of ccm, a subgenre born in the late-'60s that often takes the best of non-Christian music and baptizes it with biblical lyrics. But the Christian hip-hop scene has evolved. As this month's cover story suggests, a new crop of artists—including the one on our cover, Lecrae—is transcending CCM's copycat ways by mixing beats and ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedLecrae Brings Reformed Rap to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show
Lecrae Brings Reformed Rap to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show
(UPDATED) Performance with The Roots was the first by a Christian rapper on late-night TV.
TrendingChristian Pundit Dinesh D'Souza Sentenced to 5 Years Probation
Christian Pundit Dinesh D'Souza Sentenced to 5 Years Probation
Former president of The King's College avoids prison time for campaign finance violations.
Editor's PickPowers in the Hood
Powers in the Hood
It takes more than good intentions to do urban ministry—it requires spiritual armor.
Comments
Christianity Today
Holy Hip-Hop Grows Up
hide thisMay May

In the Magazine

May 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.