The following post is part of a series called Summer Worship Ideas put together by Natalie Hill and Kevin Kusunoki. You can access other posts in this series via this link.
The origins of rap can be traced to West Africa, where stories were often told in a rhythmic pattern to the beat of a drum. This oral tradition made its way across the Atlantic with the slave trade and became a staple in the development of African-American music. James Brown, a major figure in African-American music, is often cited as the “father of hip hop”.
In the mid 20th century, Caribbean music started to become heavily influenced by American music and deejays began ‘toasting’ over beats. They simply made announcements at parties like where the food was, where the next party was going to be, or what the weather was like. Various DJ’s would creatively embellish these announcements with rhyme.
The combination of these two influences brought about the advent of rap music. Today, it is often impossible to turn on the radio without hearing rap. One scan through the Billboard Top 100 charts and you may struggle to identify a song without an element of rap. It has become a tremendous influence on culture. However some would argue that rap’s influence has been more detrimental than helpful.
Christian rap is a relatively overlooked genre in Christian circles. That could be because of the general demographic associated evangelical Christianity, or the affiliation of that style of music with negative cultural influences. Whatever the reason may be, you won’t hear Christian rap being played on Christian radio stations; which is unfortunate because there are some really good Christian rappers out there, whose lyrics are drenched in thick theology. Please take time to really listen to these artists, they write some of the most convicting and uplifting raps.