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A high school in Beaver, Pennsylvania, recently went into security lockdown over a rap lyric. Actually, rap here is a stretch. It was the theme song of a 20-year-old sitcom starring Will Smith.

A school official called a student's voicemail ...

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Displaying 1–13 of 13 comments

Karl Nova

June 10, 2013  12:42pm

I think this article was a great attempt but it is quite evident that the writer's knowledge of hip hop is lacking. You see even though hip hop appears to have one dominant narrative and most only know it for the narrow stereotypical gangster image that is promoted in the mainstream, a view into the beginning of Hip Hop will reveal that hip hop began as party music. It began in block parties in the disenfranchised areas of New York. The first decade of hip hop was mainly escapist and tilted towards partying and having fun. It seems the writer only approaches hip hop with his limited knowledge and therefore the article suffers from a narrow kind of view. Hip Hop is not just some braggadocio gangster narrative from those who have experienced fatherlessness. It is a myriad of things from political protest to partying and escapism all the way back to spiritual reflection and back to angst and I am just talking about so-called "secular" rap. Good attempt but dig deeper next time. peace

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Rick Brumfield

May 18, 2013  10:49pm

I am honestly saddened by the narrowness in parts of this article. There was rap & hip-hop long before the sub-genre of gangsta/thug rap. Much of it was not angry, overly violent, or overly misogynistic. It was more akin to the R&B, blues, jazz, rock-steady, & disco it was birthed from. There was swagger, to be sure, but it was more light hearted, more varied & experimental. Grandmaster Flash, Cold Crush, Sugar Hill Gang, early Fresh Prince, Young MC. Focusing on the stylings of Tupac & similar, and essential defining rap as such, does it a disservice. Most don't even deal with the 4 elements of hip-hop. You also left out a litany of underground, & often Christian, rappers/groups who don't fit the thug mold: L.A. Symphony, mars ill, deepspace5, Sivion, the Procussions. These guys are more in it for the art, the experience. They don't often rap straight up theology, but how many non-seminary, un-churched college kids even know propitiation, Calvinism, Arminianism or the like?

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Tim Childs

May 14, 2013  3:51pm

Some Christians think that Christians should only listen to 'Christian' music, whatever that means! Do you eat 'Christian' sandwiches. or wear 'Christian' shoes' or buy from Christian only stores? Of course you don't! I find Christian pop and rock music boring, mentioning no names, and perhaps an excuse for those who couldn't make it on the strength of their talent and music alone, to get all religious and so sell records to a captive audience, who perhaps think that God only likes Christians who listen to it! Life is more complex, and I, no doubt like many Christians if they are honest, like all kinds of secular music and like all kinds of movies and books that are not particularly Christian; and why not? If someone disagrees with this perspective, please explain why; I'm willing to have a dialogue. And Christian hip-hop; why not after all? If you don't like something, don't listen to it or buy it; simples!

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May 14, 2013  3:39pm

I also appreciate Russell Moore's wisdom in seeing the big picture of Christian hip-hop's influence and potential influence. Oh, if it were as big in my Cleveland, Ohio, neighborhood as "worship music" is in the suburbs... One caveat: as an old-school Christian rap fan, I was disappointed to see that in his brief history, he missed Chris Cooper, aka Super C, and his Soldiers for Christ. Along with P.I.D., they were important in the early 90's for establishing the street-wise art and wisdom of Christian hip-hop after the heartfelt but artistically poor beginnings of folks like Mike Peace, DC Talk's Heavenbound, and Stephen Wiley.

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Simon Bolivant

May 14, 2013  2:43pm

This is the best article I've read on Christian Hip-Hop. Christ followers who rap really do fit into the evangelistic and discipleship callings of the Church universal. Mr. Thompson said Christian hip-hop is not new-true. But the monergistic/Calvinistic strain is a recent development for sure. I'm 40+ now, I grew up with Hip-Hop and God graciously called me as a teen to follow Christ. I WISH I had half of the music that's available now back in the day. The best line in this article: "Hip-hop itself, even in its rawest, most "secular" version, is unwittingly Calvinist, because it has always had a realistic vision of sin." That's so true and it helps show the importance of checking lyrics for the thought process of these rappers. The best book I ever read on hip-hop was Jesus and Jigga: Where Hip-Hop Meets Scripture by Eric J. Dolce. The author's ability to dissect Jay-Z's lyrics and shine biblical light on the song's subject matter was outstanding...

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Jonathan Nichols

May 12, 2013  11:22am

Thank you, Mr. Stalcup, I appreciate your sharing. Thi'sl appears kind, genuine and sincere, and seems to carry a passion to serve. My understanding of hip-hop - which admittedly is lacking - is that it is a reaction to injustice. If that is true, hip-hop has just reason to react and speak up. However, the right to speak does not grant one automatic wisdom and that is what I had meant to argue. My limited exposure to hip-hop includes depictions of arrogance and unkindness. We who claim Christ as Savior, regardless of culture, have a Father to whom we submit. We are to measure our words and actions against His standards. Our speech should glorify Him, not ourselves. The Gospel does not lead Christians to be mean, self-centered or explosively angry. If these are common characteristics to specific groups, there needs to be doubt of credibility. Anything truly from God will stand up to criticism, so learn to critique! The true will stand, the false will be exposed.

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Aaron Thompson

May 11, 2013  10:43pm

Interesting article, but it's a shame to come at it from the angle of skepticism. First, Lecrae and others owe the broader church community no form of explanation. By and large those that seek such an explanation aren't coming out of (or close to) hip hop culture. We in anglo-centric Evangelical world aren't the gate-keepers of acceptable forms for Christian expression. And secondly, Christian hip hop is not new by any stretch. The article makes it seem like this is a new trend - but it isn't. It may be new to many CT readers, but again, that's because it isn't part of "our" community.

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May 11, 2013  12:47pm

Greetings. I very much enjoyed reading this article. I did not enjoy reading the comment by Mr. Nichols. I believe everyone has a right to their own opinion - but as Christians, if we cannot come together and support the various types of Christian Music that helps spread the Word of God, what does that say about us? Anyways, I wanted to share my story. I am a white, middle class 25 year old who grew up in a great family. My grandfather was captain of police, and my father was a police officer. Two years ago I found myself caught up in a whirlwind of smoking marijuania and drinking a 6-12 pack of beer every night. I nearly lost my job, etc, etc. Throughout this time I was listening to secular hip hop. One day, a Christian Hip Hop artists' video came up on YouTube. I was forever changed. That was January 27, 2013. Since that Sunday that Jesus saved me through Christian Hip Hop, I have not drank nor smoked. I am now a Christian. Please do not underestimated the power of Christian Hip Hop.

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Michael Stalcup

May 11, 2013  12:00pm

As a happy reply to Mr. Nichols' request in the comments to "name one" person who has become a Christian through Christian hip-hop, here's a story from an interview with rapper Thi'sl posted just last week: -- one of many more stories I could point to, both of conversions and of significant moments of Christian discipleship through Hip-Hop music. In fact, SXSW has a recent article on Andy Mineo, currently one of the most prominent Christian rappers (signed to Lecrae's Reach Records), relating his own story of discipleship around career choices: "After hearing Da Truth's 'Price Tag' [rap] song, he vowed to shut down his recording studio and never use his gifts to help record music that did not honor God. He lost all his business and income, but he found his new identity in Christ" ( I hope that is encouraging to you as you think about Hip-Hop's ability to deeply influence hearts and minds.

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Jonathan Nichols

May 10, 2013  11:15pm

Paul declares that he became all things to all people in order to win as many as possible to Christ. Is it possible that God could use some of His children through the means of hip-hop music to draw more unto Him? Yes, it is possible. But if you're going to such lengths to defend it, surely you have evidence of new Christians due to the draw of Christian hip-hop. Name some. Name one. The purpose of your article seems to be more concerned with how the Gospel can be reshaped to suit a new taste rather than how the Gospel can change people into Christ followers. The Gospel changes lives, hearts, and attitudes, not the other way around. There is no "genre" which is most Christian. All music belongs to God. How will each musician use her/his gift of music in his/her particular genre to bring glory to God as well as love to our neighbors and our enemies? Let them use their creativity to do so and let their music speak for itself.

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Toccara McCoy

May 10, 2013  3:56pm

This was such an incredibly interesting assessment of Christian hip-hop. As a young girl in church I grew up on it--two favorite groups of mine being DC Talk and PID (Preachers in Disguise). It was the only hip-hop that was allowed in the house and I learned all those healthy rap-lyrics just like I, unfortunatley, knew many secular ones. ("Talk it Out" by DC Talk helped me regain some faith in my parents strict ways as actually loving me!) All in all, I think Christian hip-hop made a huge impact on infusing other necessary chararcterstics into my spiritual makeup, such as pride in my faith, boldness, courage and guilt-free joy! As it was said, Christianity is not all about quiet, humble and simplistic cheek-turning aspects of service toward God and the brethren. Jesus Christ was also about bearing the sword of the spirit and taking a stand for righteousness and CONVICTION. Christian hip-hop can teach more than a thing or two about that! Keep it coming! This was great.

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Bob Bobo

May 10, 2013  12:05pm

Excellent read. It addresses all concerns about chirstian hip hop. Like any other style of music CCM invades it takes the chance of being hijacked by the Christian marketing machine that sucks the credibility out of it. The gospel can be used in all forms of music. the issue is the "credibility". This is even more important in Hip Hop. This style is out of urban black culture expressing frustration. And it has been hijacked by Marketers selling it to the white middle class kids over the last 20 years. Of course CCM can make great hip hop to the Lord. The key is, it has to be done by real hip hoppers that know the languauge before they started doing it. I remember a known christian songer who was provided a great song, great CCM musicians/producer, it was minor hit. The only one she ever had in the ccm pop genre. Why? It was'nt her. The feel, lyrics, was not who she was. It is all about "credibility".

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Michemas Casimir

April 23, 2013  2:30pm

Great article, beautifully put.

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