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In the Press: Church using hip-hop to build a stronger Community

Published on January 8, 2011

By Andre Lamar
Community News
Posted Jan 07, 2011 @ 03:39 PM

Although many view hip-hop as a destructive tool that glorifies sex and drug use, one church recognizes the subculture as a way to help strengthen its community.

On Jan. 7, Abundant Life Christian Center in Newark will kick-off the New Year with the Friday Night Live Youth Concert, featuring Christian rappers such as King Cyz and Encore. Seventeen-year-old Devan Britt, also known as Encore, believes he and his peers will encourage teens through their positive rap lyrics at the free concert.

“There’s a lot of people that are struggling,” said Britt, who is a member of Abundant Life’s youth group. “Everyone needs somebody to push them, once in a while, and I want to be that push.”

For better or worse, today’s youth are heavily influenced by hip-hop, said Aaron Hynson, the church’s youth pastor. But one of the differences between the genres is that secular rappers are mostly known for writing rhymes that glorify material possessions and cynicism. However, religious rappers record tracks that offer honesty, hope and peace to listeners, he said.

Truthfulness is also a significant characteristic that distinguishes Christian rap from its worldly counterpart, Hynson said. Furthermore, some secular artists have manipulated audiences into believing they are uneducated, thuggish entertainers.

“Some rappers have [college] degrees and are doing positive things in the community. But it’s not reflected in their music,” he said. “If you’re helping in your community, why not put that into your music?”

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