As the band's resident rapper, Toby McKeehan put the "talk" into dc Talk. There was "Christian rap" before dc Talk, but it was the trio's 1989 self-titled debut album that brought it into the contemporary Christian music mainstream (see "Rhymin' and Rappin' 4 D King," CT, June 24, 1991, p. 13). The celebrated band has moved away from rap to an edgier rock sound, but McKeehan continues to nurture his hip-hop side as co-owner of Gotee Records, a CCM label specializing in urban and alternative-rock artists like Out of Eden, grits, and Jennifer Knapp. CT's Edward Gilbreath spoke to McKeehan about the attraction of hip-hop.
Did you set out to be a pioneer of hip-hop in the CCM world?
I grew up loving hip-hop, so when I started writing music, that's what naturally came out. I don't claim to be a hardcore hip-hopper. I'm just a pop musician who fell in love with the music from an early age. I grew up in the suburbs of D.C. I wasn't facing the same things some of the people writing those songs were facing. But I loved the culture of it. I loved where it came from.
What is the attraction of rap and hip-hop styles for you as a Christian songwriter?
You can deal with issues more directly, and I think you can express yourself in literal terms more easily in hip-hop. Right now I'm writing songs for my solo record, which will be heavily rap-influenced. It's refreshing for me to get back to writing that style of music because it's like you see something you want to talk about, and you can say it like it is.
What's the attraction for white kids and suburban communities?
It connects on many levels. I think people are drawn to the way hip-hop ...1
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