In recent years there has been a lot of discussion around the emergence of The Christian Hip Hop Artist. I began to notice the discussion hit the mainstream in 2011 when Lecrae participated in the Cypher, one of the segments synonymous with the BET HIP HOP Awards. For me this was an absolute moment of triumphant celebration. To see what I thought was a Christian Hip Hop Artist take the mic, and flow with all of the lyrical mastery, and linguistic gymnastics, that true Hip Hop has always been known for was phenomenal. In that moment, I was not only able to appreciate his style, I was able to hear the Word of God presented through a genre that I had grown up with, in a way that felt reminiscent of the early 2000's. In 2003, The Hans Soul Holy Hip Hop Show, that aired on Power 99FM, Friday nights from 8pm - Midnight, was it for me. Two years prior, I had re-dedicated my life to Christ, yet my love for the perfect verse over a tight beat had never changed. It had been there since Hip Hop's inception and while spiritual growth would no longer, in good conscious, allow me to co-sign to some of the mental and emotional degradation that was coming through the music, my yearning for the gift of this genre that originated in my youth was still there. Like an answer to an unspoken prayer, I was introduced to "Cross Movement".
My introduction to this group of biblical word smiths, was not physical, it was spiritual, emotional, and mental. It was a much needed watering of my mustard seed sized faith. I like many Philadelphians, was in my bag for sure. It was one of the highlights to my Friday night. I was able to play music that bobbed my head while my soul got fed. This brings me back to the title of this blog The Christian Hip Hop Artist. You see for me and many like me, who both love hip hop music and love Christ, the Christian Hip Hop Artist is the Street Preacher. Much like the Apostle Paul, who has given us thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament the CHH artist, is fluent in the dominant language of the culture and completely immersed in Christ, where as making them an authority and a viable means in which to deliver the Gospel we as Christians have been commissioned to give. In short, the Christian Hip Hop artist is a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Hip Hop is their form of delivery for the sermonic text. For the rapper who shares their faith through their art but does not want to be labeled as a Christian Rapper, I say thank you and much respect. There is a distinction between you and Ministers of the Gospel, much like there's a distinct difference between motivational speakers and preachers. The difference is the calling that has been placed on one's life and the answering of such a call.
The bible tells us in Matthew 22:14, that many are called (invited, summoned), but few are chosen. Basically, everyone invited to the party won't stay. Everybody who shares their faith is not a minister. While everyone can and are encouraged to share their faith, there are few who are sincerely cut from the same cloth as the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8), and that's okay. We need the distinction to be made so that rather than going to someone who is not a Christian Hip Hop artist to ask them about Christian Hip Hop artist, we can now take the more logical step of speaking with someone who is a Christian Hip Hop artist about being a Christian Hip Hop artist. Being close to or around Christian Hip Hop artist, does not make one an authority on who and what Christian Hip Hop artist believe, represent, or are motivated by, no more than me, as an African American woman would be considered an authority on the Black male experience. I can offer an opinion based on my extensive interaction with Black men, however, if one really wanted have an informed discussion of true authenticity, of what it's like to be a Black man in America, I would suggest you talk to a Black man in America. Only a Christian Hip Hop artist can legitimately communicate the burden they carry for those outside of the safety and covenant of God, who dwell within the urban context. A Christian Hip Hop artist will accurately convey the leading of The Holy Spirit, for them to advocate on behalf of the marginalized through their musical gift. It is worth repeating that we no longer have to get second hand information when it comes to hearing the heart of the Christian Hip Hop artist, we can actually speak to them directly. There are several people who come to mind like NoFlesh the Urban Theologian out of Atl, Da' Truth out of Philly, and also Philly's own Ambassador215, who was not only one of the founding members of Cross Movement, he is apremier solo artist who's music has blessed millions around the world and has inspired Christian Hip Hop artist by the tens of thousands, to stay in the game...
I had the most awesome and unique opportunity to interview Ambassador for my show and I must say it was both a pleasure and an honor. It was a pleasure because he has a regular way about him, that makes you feel quite comfortable. He's an interviewee who practices active listening. He's not just concerned with the message he wants to get out, he's also concerned with how you think and feel on the topic of discussion. It was an honor because anyone who knows me knows I am an avid history buff, the call on my life utilizes the arts to communicate the Gospel, and Amba's music is in heavy rotation on my show. Needless to say, I considered this conversation and the future synchronization of the complimentary aspect of the mission in media to the Creative Art of Christian Hip Hop, a real privilege.
During this two show interview Amba and I spoke for a little over seventy-five minutes on the importance of keeping Christ central in Christian Hip Hop and not confusing an artist who expresses a suggestion of faith within their work as a Christian Hip Hop artist. The interview was both enlightening and encouraging as those of us who have followed him for years have always appreciated. He takes the specifics of the broader conversation and gets us to hone in on a more concise and accurate depiction of what we are, and are not witnessing within popular culture as it relates to the Christian context. He does this lovingly, truthfully, with all sincerity, and without being judgmental. He has encouraged us to sit with the scriptures, and take an honest look at what the mandate is from Christ. What we as Christians refer to as The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
I will leave you with this: In the Spirit of Luther, which has inspired Ambassador's latest collection of relevant T's,
"Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world”
- Martin Luther
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus."
- Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This is dual energy used by Christ to inspire His Ambassador....
To listen to the interview with Ambassador visit chantanichole.com
To check out a playlist with some of my favorites from Ambassador please visit newworldstation.com
Stay Tuned for more to come....