The Evolution of Christian Rap

The first Christian Rap I ever listened to was “Nu Thang” by DC Talk. The year was 1990, I was ten, and I listened to the tape on my Sony Walkman, which, I might add, had the ever fancy auto-reverse feature. Kind of a big deal.

Anyway, “Nu Thang” was fun. It sounded more hip-hop-MC-Hammer-ish than a track of serious rhymes and beats. A quick look at the lyrics gives a fairly accurate feel for the song.

“Ya know He’s doin’ it
God is doin’ a nu thang”
(Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.)

Pretty deep.

Now, fast forward 20 years.

Christian Rap has completely evolved. I am now pleasantly surprised by the quality of rap that artists like Lecrae and Trip Lee are producing. These new artists (I’m thinking particularly of those associated with the 116 Clique) combine theologically dense lyrics with catchy beats and decent rhymes.

The emergence of these new artists has not only been a positive development for Christian Rap, but for Christian music in general. Even within Christian circles, critics have long complained of Christian music’s shallow and thin lyrics.  But that criticism is difficult to level at this new crew of artists. These new rappers are using the speed and word-density of rap to maximize content. They are rapping through Paul’s letters in the album 13 Letters. I’ve also heard John McArthur referenced in song, and as you will see below, Lecrae has further popularized the theology of John Piper in his music.

So if you’ve never checked out Christian Rap, or if it’s been a long time…like 20 years, then I invite you to take a look.

Here’s a good example of what’s new in the world of Christian Rap…

Lyrics to Don’t Waste Your Life :

(feat. Cam & Dwayne Tryumf)

[Hook: Cam]
Don’t wanna waste my life

[Verse 1: LeCrae]
I know a lot of people out there scared they gone die
Couple of em thinking they’ll be livin in the sky
But while I’m here livin man I gotta ask why, what am here fo I gotta figure out
Waste my life
No I gotta make it count
If Christ is real then what am I gone do about
All of the things in Luke 12:15 down to 21
You really oughta go and check it out
Paul said if Christ ain’t resurrect then we wasted our lives
Well that implies that our life’s built around Jesus being alive
Everyday I’m living tryin show the world why
Christ is more than everything you’ll ever try
Better than pretty women and sinning and living to get a minute of any women and men that you admire
Ain’t no lie

We created for Him
Outta the dust he made us for Him
Elects us and he saves us for Him
Jesus comes and raises for Him
Magnify the Father why bother with something lesser
He made us so we could bless Him and to the world we confess him
Resurrects him
So I know I got life
Matter fact better man I know I got Christ
If you don’t’ see His ways in my days and nights
You can hit my brakes you can stop my lights
Man I lost my rights
I lost my life
Forget the money cars and toss that ice
The cost is Christ
And they could never offer me anything on the planet that’ll cost that price.

[Verse 2: Dwayne Tryumph]
Armed and dangerous
So the devil jus can’t handle us
Christian youth them a stand wid us
Livin’ n driven
Given a vision
Fullfillin the commission he handed us
London to Los Angeles
Da rap evangelist
Ma daddy wouldn’t abandon us
“I gotta back pack fulla tracts plus I keep a Johnny Mac”
So are you ready to jam with us
So let’s go, gimme the word an let’s go
Persecution let’s go
Tribulation let’s go
Across the nation let’s go
Procrastination bes go
Hung on the cross in the cold
Died for da young and the old
Can’t say you never know
Heaven knows
How many souls are going to hell or to heaven so we gotta go in and get em

[Verse 3: LeCrae]
Yeah do it for Christ if you trying to figure what to do with your life
If you making money hope you doing it right because the money is Gods you better steward it right
Stay focused if you ain’t got no ride
Your life ain’t wrapped up in what you drive
The clothes you wear the job you work
The color your skin naw we Christian first
People living life for a job
Make a lil money start living for a car
Get em a house a wife kids and a dog
When they retire they living high on the hog
But guess what they didn’t ever really live at all
To live is Christ yeah that’s Paul I recall
To die is gain so for Christ we give it all
He’s the treasure you’ll find in the mall
Your money your singleness marriage talent and time
They were loaned to you to show the world that Christ is Divine
That’s why it’s Christ in my rhymes
That’s why it’s Christ all the time
My whole world is built around him He’s the life in my lines
I refused to waste my life
He’s too true ta chase
That ice
Heres my gifts and time cause I’m constantly trying to be used to praise the Christ
If he’s truly raised to life
Then this news should change your life
And by his grace you can put your faith in place that rules your days and nights.

[ These are Don’t Waste Your Life Lyrics on ]


Published by

Derek Griz

I am a Christian, a husband, a father, and a pastor (Immanuel Church). I write from those perspectives. Connect with me on Twitter (@derekgriz).

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