1985. Stephen Wiley released Bible Break, and it rose to number 14 on the Christian radio charts. Often considered one of the first Gospel rap songs to be released, “Bible Break”, opened the door to a new genre of music that would take another 20 plus years to faithfully be allowed to be performed inside of most churches.
2004. Ben Washer and Lecrae, an upcoming Christian rapper, at the time, founded Reach Records, while moving on from late 90s start-up, Cross Movement Records. Reach Records is one of the most recognizable Record labels for Christian Hip Hop to present day. Four years later, Lecrae is the first CHH artist to have an album rank #1 on the Billboard Gospel Charts and hold it for multiple weeks.
Throughout the years, Christian Hip Hop has continued to find its space and footing within the world of music and culture. Originally, ridiculed and considered blasphemous by many Christians and non-Christians, it has now become the music of at least two generations.
Like secular Hip Hop, it has multiple sub-genres and extremely talented artists to match. Also reflecting mainstream rap, the women of CHH are many yet few are widely known. One of the first women to do Gospel rap, Lady J, ironically, began writing the same year, Stephen Wiley released his first Gospel rap song in 1985. However, because of lack of resources and support, very little is known about Lady J.
CHH has been featured in NBA, NFL, and every-day commercials. Some CHH artists have become household names, creating family brands for themselves, such as Beleaf (Glen Henry). Christian Hip Hop is played on a variety of radio stations nationwide and can stake claim to at least 5 terrestrial or online Christian Hip Hop radio stations in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California, and New York. Reaching beyond American borders, there are Christian Hip Hop artists in the UK, South Africa, and China.
Christian Hip Hop, birthed in the 1980s, has influenced generations of people worldwide, and it will continue to grow. Not only bridging the gap between all walks of life, but also sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the light of God in the process. CHH may fly under most radars, but you may want to tune in now because it is a sound that will truly and positively change the world for God.
For the seasoned or new CHH listener, what artist drew you into the world of Christian Hip Hop? Let us know!