Hip Hop Music

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Hip Hop Music

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. People either loved or hated the halftime show of the Superbowl LVI featuring an all-star cast of Hip Hop and Rap stars. Millennials rejoiced; Boomers booed.

Hip hop music is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans, Latino Americans, and Jamaicans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records (or synthesized beats and sounds), and rhythmic beatboxing.

In the US, Hip Hop artists have spoken out in their lyrics against perceived social injustices such as police brutality, poverty, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs. Political hip hop has been criticized by conservative politicians as divisive and promoting separatism due to some hip hop artists' pro-black and anti-establishment lyrical content. Musicologist Robert Walser disputes this, arguing that many white youths who are exposed to hip hop as children are more likely to have positive relationships with African Americans and resist racism from their parents or other sources out of respect for black artists they admire.

Overseas, Hip Hop music is often associated with social critique such as war, profiteering, and corruption. Notably Hip Hop emerged in the Soviet Union towards the end of its existence.

Christian Hip Hop

Christian hip hop (originally gospel rap, also known as Christian rap, gospel hip hop or holy hip hop) is a subgenre of hip hop music characterized by a Christian worldview. It emphasizes the use of positive and uplifting messages to promote faith and belief.

Christian hip hop music, blending rhythmic music and faith-based lyrics, first emerged on record in 1982 with a track entitled "Jesus Christ (The Gospel Beat)" by Queens, New York, artist McSweet. The first full-length, Christian hip hop album, Bible Break, by Oklahoma artist Stephen Wiley, was released in 1985 with the title track becoming a hit on Christian radio in 1986. Other early Christian hip recording artists from the mid-1980s included P.I.D. (Preachas in Disguise), who recorded to funky rock rhythms, as well as JC & the Boys and Michael Peace.

The most prominent Christian rappers have been TobyMac, who was the first rapper to have success in the mainstream Christian music scene, Lecrae, NF, KB & Emcee N.I.C.E. who have emerged recently on the mainstream rap scene, and Kanye West, who began making Christian hip hop and gospel music in 2019. Christian rap has almost exclusively come out of Protestant traditions in the United States, although there is a small Catholic rap scene that has recently emerged.

Sample lyrics from "I'll Find You" by Lecrae

I'm hanging on by a thread

And all I'm clinging to is prayers

And every breath is like a battle

I feel like I ain't come prepared

And death's knockin' on the front door

Pain's creepin' through the back

Fear's crawlin' through the windows

Waiting for em' to attack

They say "Don't get bitter, get better"

I'm working on switching them letters

But tell God I'mma need a whole lotta hope keeping it together

I'm smilin' in everyone's face

I'm cryin' whenever they leave the room

They don't know the battle I face

They don't understand what I'm going through

God bless you all,

Rev. Curtis Ehrgott


Image Credit: Photo of Lecrae By Raymond McCrea Jones, under CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63638267