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Worship is Holy Hip Hop’s Missing Link

Published on March 4, 2011

For some reason, the more I see Holy Hip Hop grow, the more nostalgic I become. When I first became a Christian Rap fan as a curious B.B. Jay listener in 2000, the main topics that artists discussed were testimony and evangelism.

At the time, you had Corey Red & Precise who got delivered from some serious situations at the time of their conversion. Hearing about emcees getting delivered from a life of drug dealing was so prevalent it seemed like being a reformed thug was a prerequisite for being a Christian rapper. Though we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, it was as if you didn’t have THAT testimony, then you couldn’t reach the streets. Fortunately, Da T.R.U.T.H. changed that.

As Corey Red & Precise was giving Holy Hip Hop street cred, Cross Movement was giving Holy Hip Hop theological cred. Their purely evangelical approach was bringing souls to Christ and winning over traditional minded people who felt that God couldn’t use Holy Hip Hop. However, though Cross Movement never encouraged this, some of their fans began to judge other artists who did not have an overtly evangelical approach. This created unnecessary division between the “Jesus per minute” counters and the spiritual backpackers who enjoy digging for nuggets of truth in their music.

As Holy Hip Hop became more accepted (and that Craig G. Lewis debacle died down), no one had to justify Holy Hip Hop anymore. You can talk about romantic topics or your everyday life as a college student. Kingdom life topics began to emerge as people searched for practical applications of the Bible. The only dark side of the kingdom life focus is getting caught up in the performance of it all and not a relationship with Jesus Christ. Though I never witnessed this before, there’s a gimmicky “Crank Dat Jesus” persona in Holy Hip Hop now. Watch ME do this Jesus dance! Watch ME praise Jesus! It’s interesting that the watch ME component can overlook the person of Jesus Himself.

Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with the testimony, evangelism, and kingdom life topics in Holy Hip Hop, there is something wrong when these topics are an END when it should be a MEANS. The only thing that can keep us from making these approaches an END is by operating in a spirit of worship. Before asking “What are we doing?” let’s ask “Who are we doing this for?” If it’s not for the person of Jesus Christ, we’re creating Hip Hop that is divorced from the heart of God.

Hip Hop should not ultimately connect to the artist’s heart but the Lord. When we focus on what we are doing, we are limited to the natural and hit a ceiling of our own shortcomings. But when we focus on God, we free ourselves to do what we were created to do, which is worship.

Imade Borha is a Soul music blogger/freelance writer over at imadeintruth.com.

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