Christian Hip Hop Music; A Controversial Musical Approach

With origins dating back to the late 80’s, out of the Bronx in New York City, hip hop music has become the second most requested genre falling a close lead behind classical music. With 30% of all music purchased in the last year, hip hop is, historically, common in and among block parties of New York City.

Especially popular among the 16 to 24 year old age group, hip hop music lends its roots to the West African and African American musical backdrop. Progressing into what is known today as gangsta rap, hip hop music has remained increasingly popular around the world. In the religious sector, the move to incorporate hip hop music, using Christian lyrics, has hit a niche in a new listening audience and is well received by young adults and some religious leaders across the country.

Christian hip hop, as it is commonly known, made its first debut on the scene in the 1990s with many artists utilizing the familiar beats of hip hop while incorporating their own spiritually based lyrics. To add to the complexity of this new style of hip hop, many Christian artists began incorporating rock, techno, reggae and R & B into the unique Christian hip hop sounds.

The move to incorporate Christian Hip Hop into churches across the country has taken on a life form of its own. Evangelical Christians find the acceptance of Christian hip hop, within the praise and worship programs, increases the attendance and involvement of the youth. With lyrics deep in faith and spirit, the number of artists on the scene of Christian hip hop has significantly increased resulting in a whole new line of fan based materials for the young adult and teenage music and religious sectors. This, in combination with the increase in church attendance, has found many religious leaders searching out this new genre of music.

With the positive impact Christian hip hop has provided in the evangelical community, especially to teenagers and young adults, there remains a negative connotation with the term “hip hop”. For some evangelical Christian leaders, the fear of being guilty by a sort of gangsta rap association is of constant concern.

For these religious leaders, the balance of appealing to an ever growing congregation demand while remaining true to traditional values, may lead to a complex environment in which to pray and hold services. However, with the diligence of many youth group leaders, in addition to the youth themselves, evangelical Christian leaders find the Christian hip hop music, in moderation, provides an additional avenue in which the young adults of today are provided with more inspiration.

As hip hop of all classes continues to grow, the statistics of 30% sales may well surpass the classical music market within the next several years. With the addition of the Christian hip hop sector, and promotion by religious leaders, the potential growth of hip hop music may very well push this genre into the number one music selection.

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