Growing up from a Christian background you are usually surround by a constant sound that is energetic. Filled with passion given towards a higher power, on a Sunday it is the music you are subjected to. We call this gospel music filled with mass choirs led by a musician who doesn’t really sing but directs the choir. You hear it before church, during and after unless you are asking for chest pains by playing Metro FM. Not knowing any better you are told and reminded of the contrast which Hip hop music stands for, be it slut shaming. Promoting of lustful behavior basically it is music that would not please God at all. Purely off the basis of the different messages being portrayed by the artists. To the gospel community hip hop does not serve any good purpose. To the hip hop community gospel does not uplift them to be drawn into what is being said. See the difference is that where one can change, another can’t (Lyrically)
How does this barrier get broken? Should it even be broken is the ultimate question as the genres don’t serve the same purpose (but can). Anyone who believes they don’t, is one who underestimates the power of music. As we have seen so many different sounds having different effects on people, each person seeks out their own “gospel” a person who listens to a rapper can say something along the lines of “this is the gospel” what that gospel purely is on them. Another person will listen to gospel and say “this is the word” see what I am getting at? Most people who listen to hip hop could easily relate to a line Kanye west said of: “I told God I’d be back in a second, Man it’s so hard not to act reckless” showing not only belief in a higher power by a rapper who is accustomed to a way of being that is not seen worthy by the one he believes in. Highlighting that even those who don’t exult in the name of the Lord still acknowledge his presence, respect it.
This from a rapper who to most in the Christian community would not be accepted based on lifestyle, music made etc. Do we then try to conclude that rappers are trying to find an escape for the hardship that is the world through their music? Or do we say music is their escape through expression about everything around them, a cry if you want, a prayer to someone else. We have seen that announcing a certain faith and living through it isn’t that easy. Imagine if Kanye went full on Christian Rap, granted he would attract more listeners. Maybe even lose a few but his life will be under constant introspection, questioning as towards the reason of the change ultimately not everyone will be pleased with what you are doing. Looking at Chance the rapper we see someone who blends both a traditional rap sound and a more gospel element. More in his latest album ‘Colouring Book,’ showing us that a rapper can give a sound that pleases a general audience or in this case.
In his former mixtapes, we see him give minor cues of a human searching for an understanding on what is happening around them. Someone will question that do rappers then only seek favor from God for their own musical advancements? Someone could easily say yes by referencing R. Kelly, another could say no by mentioning The Game who had an album titled ‘Jesus Piece’ having no indication of seeking to gain an audience for their benefit. It’s mostly subjective with no definite answer and that’s okay, music is made to make people question it.
Each artist has a set purpose for their music, who it’s for, why it was made and what it represents about them. Current rappers tend to give a lot of praise to a higher power not only through music, based on where they are currently are in life. Feeling they owe it someone who put them in that position. Which in itself is not bad at all because musicians shed light on their current situations. Not saying that rappers making Gospel is a phase, stating that hip hop is always growing with involvement of Christians musicians such as Kirk Franklin (who does a fresh ass Milly Rock might I add). Stating the importance of having no limitations on what music is supposed to do, who it attracts. There is the gospel in hip hop, whichever way you want to look at it.
By: Thube Nkutha