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.)
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 Whaaaaat! [Verse 3: LeCrae] Suffer 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.