When hip hop music first emerged in America, it was associated with the gangster lifestyle. Over the years, this notion has been demystified. Many Christian rap artists now use this genre of music for evangelization, encouragement, and inspiration. Christian rappers started sprouting in society in the 1980s, and since then, they have continued to release quality faith-based tracks.
Today, some Christian rappers have soared great heights in the music industry and have been honoured with numerous globally coveted awards.
Top 15 best Christian rappers
Since Stephen Wiley released the first original Christian rap track in 1986, the genre has had numerous artists. These musicians have been coming up with carefully selected lyrics that promote the word of God and inspire people at the same time.
Here is a look at the top Christian rappers today.
Jonah Sorrentino, commonly known as KJ-52, was born on June 26, 1975, and grew up in Ybor City in Tampa. This rapper got born again when he was 15 years old after years of rebellion and substance abuse.
In his early years as an artist, he released a few demo CDs that, unfortunately, failed to capture people's attention. In 1998, he stepped down from his position of youth minister to focus on rapping full time.
He released his debut album in April 2000 and has since then released 16 more. Here is a look.
- 7th Avenue (2000)
- Collaborations (2002)
- It's Pronounced Five Two (2003)
- Soul Purpose (2004)
- Behind the Musik (2005)
- Remixed (2006)
- The Yearbook (2007)
- The Yearbook: The Missing Pages (2008)
- Five Two Television (2009)
- Dangerous (2012)
- Mental (2014)
- Jonah (2017)
- Jonah Part 2 (2018)
- Mostest Wonderfullest Time of the Year (2018)
- What Happened Was...(2019)
- Victory Lap (2020)
- One Year Ago (2021)
14. Canton Jones
Canton Jones was born on January 9 1977, in Deerfield Beach, Florida, United States of America. He came from a musical family and started singing at only five years of age. Additionally, Jones is a pastor at Free Life Church.
In his college days at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he was a member of the Glee Club and got the chance to sing for celebrities such as Bobby Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder.
Canton was also in the church choir of the World Changers Church, by then headed by Creflo Dollar. He caught the attention of people after doing a solo presentation at the church. So far, he has released 13 albums. Here is a look.
- 20 Yrs. 3 Mths. & 12 Days...(2002)
- Love Jones (2005)
- The Password: Access Granted (2005)
- Kingdom Business (2007)
- Kingdom Business, Pt. 2 (2009)
- Kingdom Business, Pt. 3 (2010)
- Dominionaire (2011)
- Kingdom Business 4 (2012)
- CJ Talks (2012)
- Lust, Drugs & Gospel (2014)
- God City USA (2014)
- I Am Justice (2016)
- Kingdom Business 5 (2020)
Aaron McCain, commonly known as Canon, is from Chicago, Illinois. He was born on March 1 1989. Rapper Lecrae mentored him in hip hop music by tagging him along on his tours. At the time worked as a full-time hype man for Lecrae.
Canon was then signed by the Reflection Music Group and released his first EP titled Loose Canon: Vol. 1 in 2012. In 2015, he released his second extended play that performed very well on the Billboard charts.
The rapper currently has five albums to his name.
- Loose Canon: Vol. 1 (2012)
- Mad Haven (2013)
- Loose Canon, Vol. 2 (2014)
- Loose Canon, Vol. 3 (2016)
- Going Up (with Byron Juane and Derek Minor) (2019)
- Whole Team Winning (with Byron Juane and Derek Minor) (2020)
Travis Tremayne' Thi'sl' Tyler was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, on March 17 1977. Shortly after his birth, he and his family relocated to St. Louis, Missouri.
At the age of 14, Travis began rapping under the name Uncle Y. However, his music at the time was largely influenced by the gang activities in which he was involved. After a while, he left his street way of life and focused on gospel hip-hop.
Here are some of the rapper's best tracks.
- Let's Get to It
- Tears feat. Ellie Holcomb
- King Without a Crown feat. Corey Paul & Swade
- Majestic feat. The Social Club
- Go Get It
- All That Comes with It feat. Laquan Green
11. Black Knight (BrvndonP)
Brandon' BrvndonP' Peavy was born in Sacramento, California, and he graduated from Pleasant Grove High School in 2010. He pursued a Bachelor's Degree in Audio Engineering.
The artist's father is also a musician, a factor that contributed to BrvndonP's exposure to music at an early age. The young man started playing the drums at two years.
To date, BrvndonP has had the chance to share the stage with the likes of Canon, Chris Lee, Rhema Soul, Alex Medina, Dmaud, and many others. In 2016, he released a self-titled music collection, BrvndonP. Currently, he uses the stage name BrvndonP.
Here is a look at some of his EPs and studio albums.
- BrvndonP (2016 )
- We Live It (2016)
- Off the Record (2016)
- No Fakery (2016)
Bizzle, originally known by his stage name Lavyss, is perhaps one of the most controversial Christian rappers today. The artist's birth name is Mark Julian Felder. He was born on July 21, 1983, and caught the world's attention in 2010 when he released the song You Got Some Explaining to Do.
The song called out renowned rapper Jay Z for his negative references to Christianity and Jesus. In January 2014, he caused a stir again when he released the single titled Same Love (A Response.)
The song was a response to Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. In the lyrics, he criticized the media for promoting homosexuality and using the blacks' civil rights struggle to support gay rights.
In 2013, he won the Music Video of The Year, Rap Single of The Year, and Hip-Hop Album of The Year awards at the Kingdom Choice Awards event.
Here is a look at Bizzle's albums.
- Tough Love & Parables (2011)
- Best of Both Worlds: The Album (with Willie' P-Dub' Moore Jr.) (2012)
- The Good Fight (2013)
- Well Wishes (2014)
- Surrender (2015)
- Crowns and Crosses (2016)
- Light Work (EP) (2018)
- Light Work 2: Bars & Melodies (2019)
9. Derek Minor
Derek Johnson, Jr. was born on December 16 1984, in Pontiac, Michigan. He first used the stage name PRo before changing it to Derek Minor.
Growing up, Derek did not relate well with both his biological father and his stepdad. The latter was a drug user, a fact that led to the strained relationship between him and a young Derek.
Today, Minor is a rapper and a record producer, actor, entrepreneur, and screenwriter. In addition, he is a co-founder of the world-renowned Reflection Music Group.
The rapper also produced Anomaly, which won the Rap Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year at the 2015 Stellar Awards. He also won a Best Gospel Album Grammy Award in 2013 for producing the album Gravity. Here are the rapper's album releases.
- The Blackout (2008)
- Redemption (2010)
- Dying to Live (2011)
- Minorville (2013)
- Empire (2015)
- Reflection (2016)
- The Trap (2018)
- By Any Means (2021)
- Highlight Tapes, Vol. 1 (2021)
Tedashii is inarguably among the best-known Christian rappers today. He was born Tedashii Lavoy Anderson on March 8 1977, in Lufkin, Texas. He made his music debut in 2005 as a part of the 116 Clique associated with the renowned label, Reach Records.
While the rapper's energetic delivery captures most people's attention, his lyrics often hint at a deeper story behind his music and himself. The artist's style is characterized by his uniquely deep voice.
Here is a look at Tedashii's music albums.
- Kingdom People (2006)
- Identity Crisis (2009)
- Blacklight (2011)
- Below Paradise (2014)
- Never Fold (2019)
Toby McKeehan, commonly known as TobyMac, has released some of the best Christian rap albums in the world today. He has also won multiple awards for his Christian hip hop jams.
TobyMac was born to devout Christian parents on October 22 1964, in Virginia. When growing up, the artist fell in love with hip hop. In 1987, Toby formed the group DC Talk with Kevin Max Smith and Michael Tait. The group ended in 1999, marking the beginning of Toby's solo career.
TobyMac has won a whopping eight Grammys, the first one being back in 1993. In 2008, he won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album, in 2012 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and in 2015 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
Here is a look at Toby's album releases.
- Momentum (2001)
- Re: Mix Momentum (2003)
- Welcome to Diverse City (2004)
- Renovating->Diverse City (2005)
- Portable Sounds (2007)
- Alive and Transported (2008)
- Tonight (2010)
- Christmas in Diverse City (2011)
- Eye on It (2012)
- This Is Not a Test (2015)
- Hits Deep Live (2016)
- Light of Christmas (2017)
- The Elements (2018)
- The St. Nemele Collab Sessions (2019)
- TobyMac Collection (2020)
- Live in Denver (2021)
6. Trip Lee
William Lee Barefield III, commonly known as Trip Lee, was born on December 17 1987, in Dallas, Texas. Besides rapping, he is also a singer, author, poet, and young adult pastor at Concord Church.
The 34-year-old artist first caught the attention of people when he featured on the Reach Records website aged 16. He later released his debut album, If They Only Knew, shortly after his high school graduation.
Although Lee has released many albums, his third one, titled Between Two Worlds, contained some of the best Christian rap songs to date. It won the Best Hip Hop Album award at the 2011 Stellar Awards and got nominated for two Dove Awards.
Here is a look at the rapper's studio albums.
- If They Only Knew (2006)
- 20/20 (2008)
- Between Two Worlds (2010)
- The Good Life (2012)
- Rise (2014)
- The Waiting Room (2016)
Kevin Elijah' KB' Burgess was born on July 21 1988, in St. Petersburg, Florida. His family then relocated to southern Illinois, where KB grew up for about eight years.
After graduating from high school, he joined a Bible college where he met other rappers with whom he formed the hip-hop group HGA, which is an acronym for His Glory Alone.
KB signed with Reach Records in 2010 and later worked alongside the world-famous rapper Lecrae on the track titled Go. Since then, KB has released numerous tracks as a solo artist. However, he is still part of HGA.
As a solo artist, he has released a few albums, an extended play, a collaborative album, and a mixtape. Here is a look at the rapper's music albums.
- Weight & Glory (2012)
- Delegated & Dedicated (2013)
- Tomorrow We Live (2015)
- Today We Rebel (2017)
- His Glory Alone (2020)
Marcus Tyrone Gray is Flame's real name. The American Lutheran Christian hails from St. Louis, Missouri. He was born on September 16 1981. When Flame was much younger, he would write raps as his devotionals, especially in his free time. He later converted these devotionals into hip hop music.
It was not long before Cross Movement Records noticed him and offered him some support to publish his music. Flame released his debut self-titled album under the recording label. He went on to release four more albums with the label before launching his own, which is known as Clear Sight Music.
Here is a look at Flame's album releases.
- Flame (2004)
- Rewind (2005)
- Our World: Fallen (2007)
- Our World: Redeemed (2008) – This collection was nominated for a Grammy as well as GMA Dove and Stellar awards.
- Captured (2010)
- The 6th (2012)
- Royal Flush (2017)
- Forward (2015)
- God Knows (2018)
- Extra Nos (2020)
3. Andy Mineo
Andy is a video director, producer, music executive, actor, minister, and Christian rapper. To most people, he is best known for being a part of the group 116 Clique. The rapper was born in Syracuse, New York, on April 17 1988, is currently signed to Reach Records.
Although he was always a believer in Jesus, Andy realized that he was spiritually weak after his campus years. He shut down his studio at some point, giving himself some time off to strengthen his Christian faith.
Afterwards, he re-launched his music career and has since released some albums as a solo artist. Here is a brief look.
- Formerly Known (2012)
- Heroes for Sale (2013)
- Uncomfortable (2015)
- Magic & Bird (2017)
- Work in Progress (2019)
- Never Land (2014)
Nathan John 'NF' Feuerstein was born on March 30 1991, in Gladwin, Michigan, United States of America. His stage name, often stylized as ИF, is derived from his first and last names.
The rapper was brought up by his mother for much of his childhood after her divorce from NF's father. Fans of Christian rap can easily recognize NF's music from his catchy beats and relatable lyrics. However, his father later took custody of him after realizing that his ex-wife's boyfriend was abusing Nathan.
In 2009, his mother died from prohibited substances, so he dedicated his jam, How Could You Leave Us, to her. The track highlighted his emotional confusion centred on wondering why his mother loved drugs more than she loved him.
Today, NF says that his bad experiences helped shape the God-loving person he is today. The rapper currently has six albums to his name.
- Moments (2010)
- Mansion (2015)
- Therapy Session (2016)
- Perception (2017)
- The Search (2019)
- Clouds (The Mixtape) (2021)
In 2016 and 2017, he bagged two prizes at the GMA Dove Awards in the categories of Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year (Therapy Session) and Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year (Oh Lord), respectively.
Top on the list of Christian rappers today is Lecrae. The artist's full name is Lecrae Devaughn Moore. He was born in Houston, Texas, on October 9, 1979, and has since become one of the most influential gospel artists of all time.
Besides rapping, Lecrae is the head and co-founder of Reach Records, a label that has signed some of the best faith-based rappers in the United States of America.
Lecrae was born and brought up by a single mother, and his grandmother would often take him to the church On Sundays. In his younger years, the two-time Grammy winner was s*exually assaulted by a babysitter. He also got into substance abuse at some point.
To cope with the pain caused by physical abuse, drug use, and neglect, he turned to music. The rapper often uses his experiences to encourage and inspire young people through rap music.
Here is a look at Lecrae's albums.
- Real Talk (2005)
- After the Music Stops (2006)
- Rebel (2008)
- Rehab (2010)
- Rehab: The Overd*se (2011)
- Gravity (2012)
- Anomaly (2014)
- All Things Work Together (2017)
- Let the Trap Say Amen (2018) – This album was done with Zaytoven
- Restoration (2020)
Who is the best Christian rapper?
Lecrae Devaughn Moore, popularly known as Lecrae, is currently the best Christian rapper. Besides his inspirational music and catchy lyrics, Lecrae's story highlights the relevance of Christianity. The rapper began his journey without faith in God.
Additionally, the rapper has managed to balance his musical journey with society's need for justice and freedom. He currently has eight studio albums and is a two-time Grammy Award winner.
Which rapper became a Christian?
Some of the modern-day Christian rappers did not grow up as Christians. As you might imagine, the genre has its fair share of people who chose to convert to Christianity either from other religions or from following no religion.
One of the most notable people is Cheryl 'Salt' James from Salt n Pepa. While she often teams up with her former band members, nowadays, you will most likely hear her spitting gospel rap verses. Other notable mentions include Kurtis Blow and Bushwick Bill.
What songs are top of the charts in Christian rap?
According to this site, here are the top Christian rap tracks in August 2021.
- Amen (Reborn) by Lecrae and for KING & COUNTRY
- Clean by Derek Minor
- Closer by SO.
- CLOUDS by NF
- LIKE YOU by Aaron Cole feat. Tauren Wells & TobyMac)
- Reasons by Hulvey
- Still 40 Deep by Wande and Hulvey
- Summer's Back by Hyper Fenton
- Talk 2 Me by Montell Fish
- We Against the World by Andy Mineo and Hulvey
How much do Christian rappers charge for a show?
As with other music genres, Christian rappers charge differently for shows. Factors such as the rapper's profile, marketing, and brand strength all come into play. Lecrae, for example, charges between $50,000 and $100,000 for a live event. For virtual events, he charges between $10,000 and $20,000.
New Christian rappers generally make less than those who have been in the industry for long.
Rappers who used to be Christian
While several non-Christians became Christian rappers, very few have renounced the faith. Still, one of the most famous renunciations of Christianity came from UK-based rapper Jahaziel in 2015.
When leaving the faith, the rapper noted that the church's involvement in the slave trade, plagiarized Bible stories and the 'brutal nature of its God' were among the reasons for his decision.
How much money do Christian rappers make?
There are barely any credible sources highlighting the earnings made by Christian rappers. However, Simply Hired alleges the figure to be about $54,175 per year.
Christian rappers continue to capture people's attention despite the genre being relatively new as compared to conventional gospel genres. The artists' relatable messages, catchy beats, and smooth lines propagate the gospel of Christ, albeit in a somewhat different way.
Legit.ng recently explored the list of the 30 richest musicians in Nigeria. The country is renowned for its vibrant entertainment industry characterized by catchy music and captivating films. Music-wise, top talents such as 2Baba, Wizkid and Burna Boy have continued to fly Nigeria's flag high in the global entertainment arena.
As one might imagine, some of these Nigerian musicians have made quite a fortune from their music careers. The likes of D'banj, Paul Okoye, and Burna Boy are among the richest artists in Nigeria.