Being a Artist/Producer since the 90’s in the Big Apple, I’ve seen a lot of hopeful entertainers come and go. For most, the hope of being a Super Star was never meant to be. Then there are the tiny few who have great potential but for some reason never took that last step to stand out of the crowd. That is, they never found their niche. Instead, they emulate what they hear on the radio, see in the videos and read in magazines. They’ve become slaves to the ever changing fads in music as opposed to being the people who create the fads. There are exceptions like LL Cool J who was always able to switch up his style to what ever was current and stay on top for over 20 years.
Now lets bring this into the context of the Christian based rap industry. The idea of finding your niche is almost completely ignored and even frowned upon. I’ve met many artists who’re going through all the motions but are not really making an impact on the audience they’re trying too or believe that they should reach(I’ll address this further down). If you ask any Christian Rapper why they do what they do, the answer would be to reach the youth and or the streets because the traditional church has not been able to do it. The dilemma is that most Christian Rappers aren’t able to reach the same people either. Just like in the general market, most weren’t meant to be artists and the talented few rarely find their niche. And if you’re wondering what I mean by niche; It pretty much means to be who you really are and to develop (you) into a marketable form. Here are some examples. Braille has a different style and content than Cross Movement but they’re all
very influential and successful in their own arenas. T-Bone knows who he and his audience is and he works his situation very well. Just look at his success. KJ52 has a different vibe and sound from either T-Bone, Cross Movement, Braille or the GRITS. Get the picture? Some work the streets well, some do the Church. Some are mainstream, some are underground but they all have a real audience and positive influence. For many years I’ve heard people claim that a Christian rapper is *supposed* to do this or that but their solutions do more harm than good to artists in the Christian Rap industry.
We all have different abilities, personalities, education, outlooks, etc… and we have to be honest with ourselves and find out who we are as artists. If you’re a theological rapper then your songs won’t really impact the streets (For some reason people get upset by this truth). If you don’t have a strong theological presence then you might be better off marketing your music to the streets but a lot of churches aren’t going to feel as comfortable with you in their concerts and won’t invite you. Don’t take it personally.
Is one better than the other? Not at all for the Church needs good artists to keep it’s members encouraged and moving forward in the Christian experience. The streets also need people who are able to do the same outside of tradition. Then you have to think our your rap style and music. Are you actively developing your own sound or do you sound current? Do you have a 90’s sound? Do you have an 80’s sound or are you all the above (Very rare and are expensive to promote). Be honest with yourself. This is how you find your proper demographic or audience. Once connected they’ll listen to you for life and you wouldn’t have to pay a PR firm to create a phony buzz for you because a real one will already exist.
Check this new track by Paradox: