“Hip hop can’t be holy”, “there’s no such thing as holy hip hop”, “Hip Hop in Church?!!”….these are but few of the many statements that have been lashed in my face over the close to 10 years that I have been a part of this community herein referred to as Holy Hip Hop.  Nowadays I can almost guess the kind of reaction I’ll get from individuals if I introduce myself as one having an affiliation to holy hip hop.  I will delve into some reasons for these reactions but first let’s deal with definitions.

Before we can define Holy Hip Hop we must first define hiphop. Black American history has divergent etymological views as to what the term ‘hip hop’ originally meant but all researchers generally agree that hip hop is a culture that originally grew out of four artistic expressions; i) Emceeing, which we now call rap (Rhythm And Poetry) ii) Deejaying iii) Beat-Boying or break dancing and iv) Graffiti art. It was activity around these artistic expressions that gave birth to a lifestyle characterized by a language, style, mannerisms of a distinct nature that has since grown to be identified as hip hop culture. The culture has since taken on other elements as it grew beyond small groupings of people that had similar ideologies into different cultures with individuals of different ideological backgrounds. So it’s important to note early on that before hip hop evolved into   a culture, it was purely just art like any other form of art. Another thing that goes without saying but is often overlooked is that hip hop is more than just music or art, it is actually a lifestyle. It is thus the art and the lifestyle that form the foundation for the legitimacy of holy hip hop.

With that sorted we can now construct a definition of Holy Hip Hop. In simple terms holy hip hop is hip hop culture conformed and submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is hip hop with an additional and overriding element of conformity to biblical standards. You can safely say the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the additional element. The semantics around the terms hip hop and rap have seen the two terms being used interchangeably though rap was originally just one element within the grandeur scope of hip hop culture. After the birth of hip hop in the early 1970’s, holy hip hop crept onto the scene about a decade later. Limited space does not allow me to into names of the progenitors and so on. Let’s proceed.

Engaging the culture

So why Holy Hip Hop? What’s its relevance? We acknowledge here that art is a gift that heaven has bestowed upon humanity-each gift given without revocation, Romans 11:29. It is entirely at man’s disposal and he can use it how ever he pleases. The sinful and depraved nature of man has caused us to pervert many gifts that God has given us. Technology, science, sport, nature, music, the list goes. The art forms that formed hip hop have not been spared and thus we have observed with sadness how influential figures have gone and made a mess of these gifts. The image that the hip hop culture now carries is one of violence, vulgarity, misogyny, sexual perversion etc all popularized by radio, television and the internet. And that’s the image people carry in their minds the moment they hear the word ‘hip hop’. They forget that behind all this filth, lies an art that has been perverted. If one can grasp the history and inception of hip hop, they’ll better appreciate individuals who have totally surrendered their lives to Christ and have said, ‘My gifts and talents are yours for your glory Lord, therefore use me as you please.’

The Message of Hope

Holy Hip Hop starts right there, with surrendering your life completely to Christ’s Lordship then further allowing him to fulfill his purpose for your life via your gifts and talents. It involves sharpening one’s art in order to exhibit excellence at all levels. It requires that those who endeavor to propagate the Gospel via hip hop to hip hop heads and others, take maximum responsibility for their actions as evangelists and teachers holding themselves to the strictest biblical standards. Remember Paul’s words to Titus; “Young men (and women) likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,  Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”  Titus 2:6 and to Timothy he said, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1Timothy 4:12

That’s the biblical standard for a minister of the Gospel, the Bible said it, I’m just regurgitating it. It is very difficult to attain to such without proper discipleship and proper discipleship is difficult without seating under solid biblical guardians and stewards (Galatians 4:2). Secular hip hop is flooded with pride and rebellion against authorities, our swag should be humility and submission. What the devil is using for evil we are to use for the edifying of the body of Christ and to the glory of his name. It’s a known fact that the average young person listens more to their favorite rapper than they do their favorite preacher. There, lies an opportunity to deposit a life giving word into a soul and set the stage for God’s work. Hip Hop Culture is a mission field like any other and it’s ripe for harvest. God has raised a crop of urban missionaries equipped with tools that will penetrate the culture to the core and inject the good news of Christ in the hearts of men and women held in bondage by its vices, bringing them to freedom in Christ.

Regardless of who you are in the body of Christ or what talents you possess, one thing you will not dispute in your heart is that the Gospel of Christ is a life changing message of Hope for all humanity. Those in the hip hop culture and those without. So whatever it takes to get the message of hope across, Paul says go for it. “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men,that I might by all means save some.  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”1 Corinthians 9:22. This we ought to do bearing in mind….., “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 . Your favorite rapper is NOT the standard, the Bible is.

I hope that in this brief discourse your eyes are open to the rational and biblical reasons for our need to engage the hip hop culture using the arts that God has blessed us with. If we see art for what it is, we will appreciate what God is doing to reconcile our generation back to himself (Colossians 1:20). We ought to be glad and rejoice that he has chosen us as Co-laborers in this great work (1 Corinthians 3:9).  We dare not sleep when God is at work, lest we miss march and henceforth mismatch ourselves into derision. Watch and pray he says (Matthew 26:41).

Woe unto us if we excel in these arts and attain all sorts of accolades and yet we trivialize or completely forget to preach the Gospel. Woe unto us.

Grace and Peace.



~ by thenativez on September 19, 2013.

2 Responses to “THE LEGITIMACY OF HOLY HIP HOP: By Gabby G.P”

  1. Awesome. Holy Hip Hop is making great strides. Thank you for sharing. Very well said.

  2. Great article! Holy Hip is growing as a genre and is slowly getting the recognition it deserve. There are new artists like the Yung Saintz that are pushing the genre forward and taking it to new heights.

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