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Religion And Rap Music: An Analysis Of Church Usage

Published on February 11, 2022

Holy Hip-Hop, Christian gospel rap, or just Christian rap – Christian rap music goes by many names but it all refers to the same musical genre: rapping about Christianity in a way that is acceptable to Christian ears. Some would even like to see Christian rap enter into the church and play alongside traditional hymnals, while others think it has no place there even with its clean lyrics and devotional structure. Whether or not you agree, Christian rap music has found a place in some congregations and is increasingly becoming recognized as a vehicle of attraction in evangelistic efforts. This is a breakdown of the church’s usage of Christian rap up to the present.

The Emergence Of Christian Rap In Worship

Christian rap music remains an underground segment of the commercial music industry with no one identifiable marketing niche. It’s marked by upbeat lyrics about faith and the overall Christian experience. The consumers who tap into the artform the most are almost exclusively Christian, male, and young. Christian rap music has, since its emergence in the early 80s, faced a similar love-hate relationship with the church as gospel music did in the 60s and 70s. Both drew on contemporary popular musical styles to be used as an outlet for Christian expression by their artists, and both have had limited success at endorsement by the Christian church who have viewed them, for the most part, as too secular and mere distractions from the bible and what constitutes appropriate worship.

Those who denounced secular styles of Christian music in the church haven’t missed out on being criticized themselves. It has been pointed out that there was a time when musical instruments were not allowed into the worshipping halls, and now it is hard to find a church that doesn’t have a piano, guitar, or drum. The protestant church itself, which is the denomination of Christian rap, for the most part, grew up in opposition to the orthodoxy at the time – Catholicism. Filling pews with the youth has been a struggle in modern times, yet many evangelical missions and proselytizers have found Christian rap as a way to reach new members in urban environments who are attracted to a more modern mode of worship.

Christian Rap In The Church Today

While Christian rap music has in no way been widely accepted into the halls of liturgical choirs today, it is a growing phenomenon. Not much work has been done to map its growing usage in the church, but within New York alone there were as many as 150 houses of worship using hip hop to some degree by the early 2000s. The famous Hip Hop Church of Harlem started by the legendary secular-rapper-turned-minister Kurtis Blow is a well-known example.

In almost every major city you can find similar examples of new-age congregations that cater to administering the word to people who have embraced Christian rap as a relatable form of glorifying God, and one that has given them a newfound excitement in attending Sunday services.

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