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History of Gospel Rap

What is Christian Rap?

There are many names for Gospel rap — Holy Hip Hop, Christian Rap, Gospel Hip Hop and even Christ Hop — It doesn’t matter what name you give it, the basics are the same. Christian rappers use their music to share the gospel (the good news) and to reach places that other styles could never enter. Many mainstream hip hop artists have made acknowledgements of faith (including Kanye West, Ma$e, DMX, and Will Smith) but are not typically considered Christian hip hop artists, as the themes of their lyrics do not typically reflect spiritual faith (frequently glorifies sex, drinking, violence and drugs). Their lyrics contain content considered blasphemous by some Christians. Gospel Rap focuses on Jesus Christ who can deliver you from all of those things. The purposes of Christian Rap is evangelization.

There is actually some debate as to how and where holy hip hop got its start because it was an emerging subculture with very little historical documentation. In the early mid 80’s Holy hip hop first became public, mainly in Nashville, TN (Christian music’s capital) and through the Los Angeles underground. According to, one of the first explicitly Christian songs was a track titled “Jesus Christ (The Gospel Beat)” by rapper MC Sweet, released in 1982. Additionally, the first album which was entirely focused on Christian themes “Bible Break” by artist Stephen Wiley, released in 1986. P.I.D. (Preachas in Disguise), who recorded to funky rock rhythms, as well as JC & the Boys and Michael Peace are early Christian hip recording artists from the mid-1980s.  According to, “Christian rap has almost exclusively come out Protestant traditions in the United States, although there is a small Catholic Rap scene that has recently emerged, and there are also small Christian rap scenes in the UK, Australia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and many other countries where Christians reside and hip hop music is popular.”

Gospel Rap Today

From a niche with few artists who achieved great success and artists who were ignored by both the Christian and secular music industry, today, the genre enjoys more popularity. Rappers like: T-Bone, Lecrae, Andy Mineo, TobyMac, KB, Propaganda, Lazarus, Group 1 Crew, Flame, Trip Lee are enjoying technological advances to exponentially expand their audiences. podcasts like Holy Culture Radio, HeadzUpFM and The Wade-O Show provide a pipeline playlist to a target audience ignored by traditional airwave media.

Under Christian underground rappers and hip hop groups, conventional hip-hop as crunk usually more respect than pop-rap.

With the rise of the genre, the Christian Hip Hop videos and DVDs are also increasing in popularity.

Christian Rap Playlist: