I’ve had an interesting relationship with hip hop over the years. The first hip hop track I remembered really falling in love with was “Mo Money, Mo Problems” by Biggie. A friend gave me a cassette tape where he recorded it off the radio and I was hooked. The video had guys in matching baggy jumpsuits and lots of cool lights. There was something about their bravado and swagger that drew me to them.
As I grew older, I started falling in love with the artistry and word play. I discovered Nas, Jay Z, and Eminem. I’d memorize their lyrics and imagine performing their songs and mimicking their style. As I was entering high school, the style of Hip Hop from Atlanta became mainstream, and artists like Lil Jon, Ludacris, and Crime Mob were being played at every football game in the city. There wasn’t a game where I wasn’t humming some sort of hype anthem song to get me ready to play.
When I was 17, I put my faith in Christ. I really wanted to glorify God with my life and kill sin that hindered me from honoring Him. I was convicted about the music I was listening to. A lot of it glorified violence, misogyny, and perpetuated a gang and drug culture that was incompatible with my new found faith. At that time, I thought hip hop and Christianity were polar opposites. And examples of “Christian hip hop” back then were, quite frankly, embarrassing. For example:
So I abstained from hip hop. I thought the genre was too sinful to be redeemed and the attempts to do so were corny and awkward. It wasn’t until my second year of bible college where I met a young guy named Kevin who loved hip hop and changed my mind about everything. He introduced me to hip hop music that was not only artistically well done but God glorifying. He introduced me to guys like Lecrae, Shai Linne, Ambassador, and Flame. He showed me pastors that I respected endorsing the genre and having them perform in their churches. My eyes opened wide. I was impressed with their artistry and the content. As a bible college student learning theology, some of their music actually helped me pass a couple of my classes.
What really started stirring my heart for Christian hip hop was its ability to take topics or current events and paint pictures for people that they couldn’t see before. These Christian artists showed me how mainstream hip hop’s glorification of drugs and drug culture is all a facade and how drugs actually ruin lives and families. Christian hip hop also showed me the reality of persecution and martyrdom in ways I’d never seen before. It even exposed to me false teachers, context for the crimes in urban areas, and taught me how to love my wife.
The same Kevin who introduced me to Christian hip hop ended up being a hip hop artist himself. He goes by KB, and he has allowed me to be part of a lot of cool things. I was able to play drums for him at a few of his performances. I was able to host his CD release show in Tampa. He even had me in one of his music videos. My friendship with him surpasses music. He is a true friend and brother in Christ but what brought us together in many ways was hip hop. One of the most fun nights I ever had was when he pulled me on stage in front of over 6,000 people for one of the major tours he was on.
That was fun! And if there is anything else my journey to Christian hip hop has showed me, it’s that Christians can have fun. The word “joy” is used in the bible 218 times. The joy we receive from Christ should overflow into all we do. The music we listen to does not need to be dry or stale. Christian Hip Hop brings me joy! That’s why I’m super excited about the Social Club concert happening at epikos on February 13th. Social Club is composed of Fern and Marty from South Florida. Social Club has performed alongside music acts Andy Mineo, Family Force 5, and many more. I can not wait for them to be here! I am also excited to see the Milwaukee natives Cory Cifax and Donney Wright opening up for them. Plus, epikos’ very own The Bridge will be performing!
If you want to get tickets for the concert or find more information go to socialclub.epikos.org