The Cross Movement has three separate and distinct eponymous components that comprise its ministry. The first component is the Christian hip hop group known as The Cross Movement (CM) which were composed of several rappers: The Ambassador (William Branch), The Tonic (John Wells), Phanatik (Brady Goodwin), and T.R.U.-L.I.F.E (Virgil Byrd), Cruz Cordero, Enock (Juan James), and Earthquake (Cleve Foat). The CM also frequently collaborated with the Christian disc jockey, DJ Official (Nelson Chu).
The CM’s niche has been to translate biblical and Christian theology into rap music by using the same hyper-aggressive lyrics, sampled orchestral riffs, alliteration, and virtuoso delivery of many mainstream rappers without the self-aggrandizing and violent lyrics, or the materialistic imagery stereotypically associated with many rappers.
The second component to the Cross Movement is the record label, Cross Movement Records (CMR), which is responsible for producing and marketing the albums of the CM, its individual members’ solo albums, and other Christian hip hop artists such as Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and FLAME. The third aspect of the Cross Movement is the incorporated, non-profit group called Cross Movement Ministries (CMM), which aims to use creative ways to spread the Christian gospel message within hip hop culture.
Since its inception, the CM has chosen to define itself as the Christian or holy division of hip hop culture as opposed to the hip hop or rap division of Christian culture. Within the genre of rap music, there are various subgenres such as gangsta rap, Conscious rap, old school rap, crunk, and reggaeton, but all of it falls under the rubric of rap and, by extension, hip hop. In choosing to define their music as simply being another subgenre – i.e., the Christian rap subgenre – of hip hop culture, the CM attempts to “keep it real” in order to maintain the validity needed to influence members of hip hop culture who may or may not be Christians. In their 2003 release, Holy Culture, the CM stated their reasoning is based on a passage from the Bible, John 17:15-19 in which Jesus said to God:
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
As the word sanctified means “to set apart”, the interpretation maintained by the CM is that they are instructed by Jesus to remain a part of hip hop culture while being set apart from the majority of the followers of hip hop culture in order to influence it from within to conform to the mores and moral code preached by followers of Christ. The acceptance of this interpretation has been mixed, however. Despite their claim to be a part of hip hop culture, the CM has slowly found more acceptance, though not total acceptance, in the Christian community than in the secular hip hop community as the majority of their concerts are held at churches or church-sponsored events as opposed to secular venues.
In 2006, the CM received a Grammy nomination for “Best Rock Gospel Album,” as opposed to any of the traditional hip hop or rap categories. Additionally, the CM has generally only been recognized at Christian and Gospel awards shows such as the Dove Awards or Stellar Awards as opposed to hip hop-only award shows such as the Source Awards or the Vibe Awards.