When hip hop music was first developed 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 the society in the 1980s and since then, they have continued to release quality faith-based tracks.
Most Christian rap songs today lack the sonic innovation of secular rap because the competition is low. Nonetheless, this sub-genre of music continues to be more widely accepted today. Some Christian rappers have soared great heights in the music industry and have been honored with globally coveted awards, such as Grammy Awards.
Best Christian rappers
Christian rap songs are typically based on Biblical scriptures. Besides evangelizing, they are also entertaining.
Who started Christian rap? Stephen Wiley released the first original Christian rap was in 1985.
Since then, Christian hip hop artists have been coming up with carefully selected lyrics that promote the word of God and inspire people at the same time.
Fans of Christian rap music should know these best Christian rappers and listen to their music because it is fantastic.
Jonah Sorrentino, commonly known as KJ-52, was born on the 26th of June 1975, and he grew up in Ybor City in Tampa. He started writing hip hop music at the age of 12 years.
This Christian rapper turned to Jesus 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, but they did not capture the attention of people. 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 so far, he has released ten others which are;
- 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)
Some of his starter Christian hip hop songs are All Around the World, Daddy's Girl, Do What I Do, and Gimme Dat.
14. Canton Jones
In his college days at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he was a member of Glee Club, so he got the chance to sing for celebrities such as Bobby Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder.
He was also in the church choir of the World Changers Church that is headed by Creflo Dollar.
He caught the attention of people after doing a solo presentation at church. So far, he has released the following albums;
- 20 Years 3 Months 12 Days (2002)
- The Password (2004)
- Love Jones (2005)
- The Password: Access Granted (2005)
- Kingdom Business (2008)
- Kingdom Business 2 (2009)
- Kingdom Business Pt. 3 (2010)
- Dominionaire (2011)
- God City USA (2014)
- I Am Justice (2016)
Toby McKeehan, commonly known as TobyMac, has released some of the best Christian rap albums in the world today. He has won multiple awards from his Christian hip hop jams.
The artist grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs, where he fell in love with hip hop. He went to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he met Kevin Max Smith and Michael Tait.
The three boys formed the music group dubbed dc Talk. The group ended in 1999, and TobyMac went solo. His releases so far include the following;
- Momentum (2001)
- Welcome to Diverse City (2004)
- Portable Sounds (2007)
- Tonight (2010)
- Christmas in Diverse City (2011)
- Eye on It (2012)
- This Is Not a Test (2015)
- The Elements (2018)
So far, he has won three Grammys. He won the first in 2009 for Best Rock Gospel Album, the second in 2013 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and the third in 2016 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
Travis Tremayne Tyler, commonly known as Thi'sl, was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, on the 17th of March 1977. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and the hardships he was exposed to in his early years did not allow him to experience a good childhood.
Later on, he chose to save himself from street life and to focus on positivism. He dedicated his life to telling his story and inspiring people through faith-based hip hop music.
Today, the 43-year-old is particularly interested in helping people from Missouri. He believes that the church has a role to play in community healing.
Some of his tracks have performed very well in the Billboard 2000. So far, his studio releases include the following;
- Chronicles of an X-Hustler (2009)
- Beautiful Monster (2011)
- Free From the Trap (2013)
- Fallen King (2014)
- Against All Odds (2016)
11. Black Knight (BrvndonP)
Brandon Peavy was born in Sacramento, California, and he graduated from Pleasant Grove High School in 2010. He pursued a Bachelors's Degree in Audio Engineering.
The artist's father is also a musician, so he was exposed to different genres of music at an early age. The young man started playing the drums at two years.
Years later, his uncle inspired him to pursue music. So far, the 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.
He changed his stage-name from Black Knight after his mother told him that his name was the only thing he owned. He chose to derive his new stage-name from his birth name.
So far, his music collection releases include the following;
- BrvndonP (2016)
- Live in LA (2017)
- Barely Finished (2017)
- Better Late than Never (2018)
Bizzle's birth name is Mark Julian Felder, and he was born on the 21st of July 1983. He caught the attention of the world in 2010 when he released the song dubbed You Got Some Explaining to Do.
The song called out renowned rapper Jay Z for his negative references towards Christianity and Jesus in his music. 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 also took offense because the civil rights struggle of blacks was used as an analogy of 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. The albums that he has released so far are;
- 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)
7. Derek Minor
Derek Johnson, Jr. was born on the 16th of December 1984 in Pontiac, Michigan. He first used the stage name PRo before changing it to Derek Minor.
As a child, Derek did not have good relationships with both his step and biological fathers. He swore to help his mother by making it big either through music or education.
Today, he is not only a rapper but also a record producer, actor, entrepreneur, and screenwriter. He is the co-founder of Reflection Music Group.
He 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 dubbed Gravity.
So far, he has released several albums as a solo artist;
- The Blackout (2008)
- Redemption (2010)
- Dying to Live (2011)
- Minorville (2013)
- Empire (2015)
- Reflection (2016)
- The Trap (2018)
Tedashii's birth name is Tedashii Lavoy Anderson, and he was born on the 8th of March 1977 in Lufkin, Texas. He is a staunch believer in Jesus and he has released five albums so far.
A very deep voice characterizes his style of hip hop. He makes his tracks catchy by manipulating the schemes and patterns of the flow. In 2013, he lost his one-year-old son.
After the loss, he struggled a lot spiritually and documented this struggle in his fourth studio album, which was released in 2014. In 2016, he released an extended play dubbed This Time Around, and his other studio releases are;
- Kingdom People (2006)
- Identity Crisis (2009)
- Blacklight (2011)
- Below Paradise (2014)
- Never Fold (2019)
Aaron McCain, commonly known as Canon, is from Chicago, Illinois. He was born on the 1st of March 1989.
Rapper Lecrae mentored him in hip hop music by tagging him along on his tours. He worked as a full-time-hypeman for Lecrae.
He then signed under Reflection Music Group and released his first extended play in 2012. In 2014, he released his second extended play which performed very well on the Billboard charts, and his albums so far are;
- Loose Canon (EP): Volume 1 (2012)
- Mad Haven (2013)
- Loose Canon V2 (EP) (2014)
- Loose Canon, Vol 3 (2016)
6. Trip Lee
William Lee Barefield III, commonly known as Trip Lee, was born on the 17th of December 1987 in Dallas, Texas. Besides rapping, he is also a singer, author, poet, and a young adult pastor at Concord Church.
The 32-year-old artist first caught the attention of people when he featured on the Reach Records website when he was only 16 years old. He released his debut album shortly after his high school graduation.
What struck people the most was his distinct southern sound and lyrics that were saturated with the gospel of Jesus.
Although he has released many albums, his third whose title is Between Two Worlds, contained some of the best Christian rap songs to date. It won the award of Best Hip Hop Album at the 2011 Stellar Awards and was nominated for two Dove Awards.
The titles of his studio releases are;
- If They Only Knew (2006)
- 20/20 (2008)
- Between Two Worlds (2010)
- The Good Life (2012)
- Rise (2014)
In 2011 and 2013, the rapper was nominated in different categories for the GMA Dove Awards, but he did not win any. In 2014, he won the award of Rap/ Hip Hop Album of the Year for his album, The Waiting Room, at the GMA Dove Awards.
Kevin Elijah Burgess is KB's real name, and the artist was born on the 21st of July 1988 in St. Petersburg, Florida. He signed with Reach Records in 2010 and is also the head of the rap group known as HGA.
After graduating from high school, he joined a Bible college where he met other rappers. Together, they formed HGA, which is an acronym for His Glory Alone.
Lecrae spotted and was interested in HGA, so he featured the group in the jam dubbed Go alongside Tedashii. Afterward, KB released songs as an individual artist, but he is still a member of HGA.
As a solo artist, he has released a few albums, an extended play, a collaborative album, and a mixtape;
- Man Up (2011) - Collaboration with 116 Clique
- Who Is KB? (2011) - Mixtape
- Weight & Glory (2012)
- 100 (2014) - Extended Play
- Tomorrow We Live (2015)
- Today We Rebel (2017)
He has also released several other singles, including Lincoln, DNOU2, and Hold Me Back in 2019 and Die Rich in 2018. The latter featured Ray Emmanuel.
Did you know that Flame was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album for his fourth studio album? Marcus Tyrone Gray is Flame's real name, and he is a rapper from St. Louis, Missouri.
He was born on the 16th of September 1981. When he 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. He released four albums with this record label before launching his own, which is known as Clear Sight Music.
So far, he has released ten albums, the latest being 2020;
- 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 New York-based hip hop artist as well as video director, music executive, and producer. The star, who was born in Syracuse, New York, on the 17th of April 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 his studio down and allowed himself some time to reconnect with Jesus and to strengthen his faith.
Afterward, he re-launched his music career. He has since released some albums as a solo artist;
- Heroes for Sale (2013)
- Uncomfortable (2015)
- Magic & Bird (2017)
- Work in Progress (2019)
NF was given the name Nathan John Feuerstein by his parents on the 30th of 1991, which was his date of birth. He comes from Gladwin, Michigan, United States of America.
His parents' marriage ended when he was young, so he was raised by his mother in his early years. Later, his father took him away when he realized that his mother's boyfriend was abusing Nathan.
In 2009, his mother died from a drug overdose, so he dedicated his jam, How Could You Leave Us, to her. As a child, he would use rap as an escape.
Today he recognizes that his bad experiences then shaped the God-loving person he is today. The 29-year-old has released a few albums so far;
- Moments (2010)
- Mansion (2015)
- Therapy Session (2016)
- Perception (2017)
- The Search (2019)
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.
Who is the best Christian rapper? His name is Lecrae Devaughn Moore, a man who was born on the 9th of October 1979 in Houston, Texas, United States of America.
Besides rapping, he is the head and co-founder of Reach Records, which has signed most 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 take him to church On Sundays. At the time, he thought that church was for older people only.
In his younger years, the two time Grammy winner was sexually assaulted by a baby sitter, and he also abused substances. To cope with the pain caused by abuse and neglect, he turned to music.
He uses his experiences to encourage and inspire young people through rap music, and his albums are;
- Real Talk (2004)
- After the Music Stops (2006)
- Rebel (2008)
- Rehab (2010)
- Rehab: The Overdose (2011)
- Gravity (2012)
- Anomaly (2014)
- All Things Work Together (2017)
- Let the Trap Say Amen (2018) – This was done with Zaytoven
- Restoration (2020)
The best Christian hip hop artists have faced their share of struggles before and even after becoming famous. Their stories encourage other believers not to give up when faced with troubles. Who among the Christian rappers above is your favorite?