On Reformed Rap and Hip-Hop
Recently Christianity Today shone a brief spotlight on the “Reformed Rap and Hip-Hop” movement. Like many other aspects of Christian artistic expression, Christian rap and hip-hop has a “young, restless, and reformed” constituency as well. And apparently, this constituency is growing. This growth is due in large measure to the overall talents and popularity of those rap artist principally identified with the movement (i.e. Lecrae, Trip Lee, Flame, Voice, etc).
I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these brothers on various occasions and even conversing at length with them about ministry, vision, the gospel, and even the future. Consequently, I am excited to know that those seemingly most influential to the movement are men of the Word, desiring to disciple and be discipled in the gospel of Christ. They are brothers who seem to be serious about the truth and relating the deeper things of the faith. I would agree with Anthony Bradley‘s assessment:
Reformed hip-hop is a theologically driven masculinity movement. It says no to the prom songs to Jesus in CCM, no to the whiny emo Christian music for hipsters, and no to empty, shallow, individualistic music lacking theological content produced out of Nashville.
To Bradley’s comments, I would add that it also says no to the theologically anemic and often brainless dribble that is so-called black gospel music today. The reformed rap and hip-hop movement is providing a fresh wind of thoughtful Christians in an age and genre when many did not think such thoughtfulness could exist.
Admittedly, I am not a connoisseur of Christian rap. What I know is primarily through what my kids listen to (and they listen to a lot). Nevertheless, I am encouraged by much of it and would encourage those in the Refomed rap movement to keep doing what they are doing. I would also caution them to remember a few things as the movement moves forward and as they consider the future:
1. Remember to be intentionally doctrinal and confessional.
2. Remember to maintain the connection with and submission to the local church.
3. Remember to maintain a committment to excellence.
4. Remember life off stage is more critical and impactful than life on stage.
5. Remember that popularity and influence comes and goes, but the gospel is the same today and always.
Ultimately, it is never our cleverness or giftedness that makes the difference. It is the gospel. Let the end of reformed rap and hip-hop be the end of all things, namely Christ, his life, his death, and resurrection according to the Scriptures.