The definition of rap lyrics in three words are drugs, sex, and money, right? Wrong. While that may be true for most mainstream rap, dozens of Christian rappers are proving that rap is more than just a sick beat—it's about creating a message that leaves you searching and wanting more.
While most people don't even know that Christian rappers exist, there are dozens who repeatedly are at the top of the charts, speaking truth, and creating awesome beats that make even the old man with fuzzy white hair sitting in the back of the pew (church bench) tap his foot and nod his head.
These Billy Grahams (popular evangelist) come as they are in their everyday street clothes, pants pulled up, Bible in hand, and preaching with fresh lyrics like no other and beats that make anyone want to dance. I promise you will be blown away. Below is a list of Christian rappers and their unique songs addressing temptation, lust, and pornography, crime, pain, racism, life struggles, anger, forgiveness, God, and the Gospel (to name a few).
With millions of YouTube viewers and concerts quickly sold out, Lecrae is one of the biggest names in Christian rap and hip-hop history. He is played through mainstream stations, has his own page on MTV.com, bestselling albums, a Grammy award, and co-owns Reach Records.With a near-death experience, Lecrae "woke up" discovering he was given a second chance. With a fatherless life, aborting a baby, and promiscuous decisions growing up, Lecrae has turned from his past and now seeks to better the lives of others through his relatable and easy to understand lyrics. He's passionate towards preserving the responsibility of fatherhood among men, and in 2013 helped partner in the multimedia initiative This Is Fatherhood as part of the Obama administration's Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. He discusses racial tension and injustice, getting raped, a troubled childhood due to a lack of a father, and many other issues in his songs.
Here is a list of a few of Lecrae's most unique lyrics to the rap industry and heart-challenging lyrics:
"Tell the World"
This song currently has more than 10 million views. Lecrae plainly raps of his experience discovering God and the difference God has made in his life.
"Your love’s so deep you suffered and took pain, you died on the cross to give me a new name. I was low, down, and dirty, but you cleaned me, Lord. You adopted me, you keep rocking me. I'm a tell the world, and ain’t nobody stopping me."
"Good, Bad, Ugly" This song shares his darker moments with rape and abortion and the ugly truth everyone keeps hidden.
"Just Like You"
In this song, Lecrae describes growing up without a father and looking to gang members for acceptance. Much later, he learns there's a bigger meaning to life and that his decisions impact those around him.
NF (Nate Feuerstein)
NF, or Nate Feurerstein, his name and previous stage name, is a (rather handsome) 23-year-old from Michigan who experienced a troubled childhood. His mom died due to drugs and suicide, and he was physically abused, as he describes in his lyrics. His struggle with anger is easily sensed by his intense lyrics and raw emotion.
His unpredictable lyrics song by song keeps the listener finding themselves going from the next song to the next anxious to hear what he shares and says next. NF stands by his lyrics, as a Christian, clinging to the hope of Jesus to deliver him from the darkness surrounding him. He takes rap to another level, sharing vulnerable stories of his past and the yearning of the human heart in desperate need of saving.
"All I Have" NF pours out his passion for rap as an outlet. He wonders if pursuing rap is wasting his time dreaming but admits that "this is all I have," his only consistency in life.
With over 1,500,000 views, NF exposes the hidden secrets we keep from showing in this song. Living as he describes in a coma, day by day feeling like there's no purpose, he calls the listener to wake up and start living. Starting with the slow sound of a piano, it quickly picks up to an intense rollercoaster of life pain. With powerful lyrical content and truth that speaks to every human being, it is no wonder this young rapper is climbing up the rap and hip hop ladder.
Trip Lee, or William Lee Barefield III, is not only a Christian rapper but an author, pastor, fellow rapper to Lecrae in Reach Records, and founder of Brag Ministry. He entered the record label as a teenager. In the beginning of 2015, his fifth album, "Rise" immediately scored high on iTunes upon release. To compliment his album, he wrote the book, "Rise: Get Up and Live in God's Great Story," diving into sex, porn, lust, and why Millennials struggle staying in church. His song, "Lazarus," was chosen by Rapzilla's readers for UFC fighter Nate Marquardts entrance song for Dec. 19's UFC Fight Night.
"All My Love"
A new woman has caught his eye, but not in a way that's OK. Married to the once love of his life, Trip Lee describes the struggle of porn and lust for a man named Jay. He's loving a woman who he met online who meets his certain needs, but he must choose between this temporary high or staying committed to his wife and family.
"But the feeling is in him, he’s really driven he starts to wonder is this worth it? ‘Cause his wife said he gotta choose. She like, 'It’s her or me your family you bout to loose.' Now Jay got the blues, he wants to scream cause he love that pretty woman on the screen."
"I'm Good (Ft. Lecrae)" This song describes the persecution and mockery of Christians and Trip Lee replies with "I'm good." He's staying strong in the faith and if the door of death opens his way, he's good.
Andrew "Andy" Mineo, formerly known as C-Lite, is a Christian hip hop artist, producer, and TV and music video director. Also part of Reach Records, Mineo is reaching mainstream hip-hop and has more than 400,000 followers on Facebook.
Rapping the truth behind pursuing worthless dreams like cars, fame, and wealth saying how it's not enough. He raps "uncomfortable" topics confronting racism head-on, "my people owned people, but they don't own that," judgmental Christians, and what it takes to live a comfortable life: "so if you wanna live a comfortable life, make sure you never love nobody, be selfish and never sacrifice."
Honest and sweet, David Augustine Jr., or Dee-1, is rising to the top for reasons unlike Lil Wayne or Kanye west. Dee-1 is open raps purity, honesty, and brings a unique sound to the genre. Waiting for sex till marriage, almost dying by the gun in a robbery, and saying no to money, Dee-1 does not fit the typical rap stereotype.
"My Student Got Murdered (Both Sides of the Gun)"
In this emotionally gripping song, Dee-1 expresses his pain and sadness for young people dying in the hood and no one there to guide them. Unlike singers of all genres and especially of rap, Dee-1 cries in this video, showing the sincerity behind his lyrics and the love in his heart.
"What I look like sitting here watching the news, I know the killer, I know the victim, I'm so confused my head hurt. Funerals ain't fun, loved him and him like a son. Now they both gon' miss Christmas, both sides of the gun."
"I'm Not Perfect (I'm a Christian)"
Dee-1's lyrics in this song are clear and his message is simple: he's unashamed to be a Christian. He understands that being a Christian isn't easy, but he chooses to stay true to God and himself. He shares that being a Christian doesn't mean perfection, tells the Christians to stop judging, and chooses purity over lust. With a catchy beat, and honest lyrics, Dee-1 defies the typical rap definition.
"I'm in the room playin' music for some industry folks. I feel like they could take me to the next level. Tryan impress 'em and show 'em my talent special. Look, the conversation turns religious. It's so convenient to say 'I believe in God' and keep it real vague and not specific. Do I not wanna offend nobody? Do I not wanna go in detail and risk 'em talking crazy 'bout me? No sir, I'm not afraid to proudly claim my Christianity."
If you enjoyed any of the above Christian hip-hop artists, you may want to check out others in the genre including: Tedashii, KJ52, Flame, KB, Sho Baraka, This'l, Propaganda, Eshon Burgundy, Json and Da' T.R.U.T.H.