Christian Hip-hop (CHH) is largely an underground genre, but...
Here at Premier Gospel we love to celebrate and champion Gospel music (the clue is in the name ha!). There are artists however who are successful not in the Gospel industry but in the mainstream world and these same artists still hold strong Christian beliefs.
We take a look at 10 artists who are doing their thing in the mainstream world while still clinging on to their firm beliefs in Jesus. Now one may argue that the apparent actions of some of the said individuals don’t match up to what they say their beliefs are, but if they say they’re a Christian then who are we to judge?
Tori Kelly is an 22 year old singer who shot to fame at just 16 years old when she appeared on American Idol. She didn’t win the competition but after a fairly positive campaign she went on to work on her own music. In June 2015 she released her debut album Unbreakable Smile which went on to become her first Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Tori said “My faith is a huge part of my life. I don't force it into my music, but it's in my experiences so it comes through. People pick up on what they want to pick up on, but any way strangers connect to a song that I wrote is awesome.” Check out Miss Kelly singing ‘How He Loves’.
Nick Brewer is a 26 year old rapper from London and recently signed a major record deal with Island Records, a subsidiary of Universal. Since the deal Nick has released 2 EPs and his latest single with Bibi Bourelly is tipped to be his first breakthrough hit. Nick said in a recent interview "I'm a Christian and it plays a big role in the music I make and what I talk about. I'm not trying to force my beliefs on anyone, I just want to make good music." Take a listen to Mr Brewer's song 'Miss Online Superstar' ft JP Cooper.
Apart from featuring on Nick Brewer’s single JP Cooper is known for his super smooth vocals and incredibly well written personal material. His standout single ‘The Only Reason’ is the love song of choice for many couples and his musical offerings have blessed listeners far and wide. Andrea Thomas, writer for Soul Features said “I would never confine JP’s style to the genre of ‘Gospel’, but he has a distinctive ability to express topics pertaining to Christianity and his faith in a way that is so unconventional, refreshing and skillful.” 'Closer' is an emotional song that explores the pain of loss.
Justin Bieber is a household name and has been for a long while now. The singer who burst onto the scene at just 13 years old - when he was found by Grammy award-winning singer Usher - has built up a strong fanbase of millions and millions of teenagers all over the world. One thing that has constantly stood out is the singer's openness about his faith in Jesus. He is known to regularly attend Hillsong church and often mentions on his social networks how God has helped him. Here he talks about just how much his faith means to him.
Controversy seems to follow Kanye West everywhere he goes but for some reason, Jesus has always been a consistent theme throughout his career. One of his first breakthrough singles was called ‘Jesus Walks’, although years later in one of his albums, Yeezus, he appeared to equal himself to Jesus. While his doctrine may be an obvious stumbling block for some, Kanye does give God glory on occasion. His recent wedding to Kim Kardashian West was officiated by Miami-based preacher Rich Wilkerson Jnr.
Michelle Williams…do we need an introduction? She was one third of one of the most popular girl groups the world has ever seen. Destiny’s Child have to date sold more than 60 million records. Michelle was always known as the one that was slightly more open about her Christian faith than the others, and this was made evident when the group split. The solo material which followed was more Christ-centred and her song ‘Say Yes’, featuring her old band mates Kelly and Beyoncé, was one of the biggest hits of the year.
Hawk House were previously known as A Yellow Man. Since their rebrand they have signed a major record deal with Virgin Records and continue to spread experimental hip-hop across the globe. They’ve been described as the UK’s answer to The Fugees which is a big title to live up to, but they’ve managed ride the pressured course so far. Their tracks are commonly known to contain Christian themes and, with all three members having grown up in church, this has become an integral part of why they do what they do. “Moses had a rod but it is lyrics we part waves with” is a line from one of their most popular releases ‘Tidal Tendancies’.
Kendrick Lamar has had an incredible past few years heavily cementing himself as one of the most talented rappers in the world. Sold out shows across the world, millions of album sold, and a fanbase which has grown enormously, he captivates his audience by openly talking about the everyday struggles of life. He doesn’t shy away from issues such as violence and racism and through all this it is clear to see that his viewpoint is shaped by his Christianity.
These are the opening lines to his critically acclaimed album Good Kid Maad City: “Lord God, I come to you a sinner, and I humbly repent for my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that you raised Him from the dead. I will ask that Jesus will come into my life and be my Lord and Saviour. I receive Jesus to take control of my life that I may live for Him from this day forth. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me with your precious blood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”