urban life & style

Holy Hip Hop: Can Rap Music Glorify God?

Is it possible to have holy hip hop? According to The Truth Behind Hip Hop the answer is no. G Craige Lewis claims that hip hop is a religion. However, many believe that the church can use rap music to reach out to young people. Some say that although man created hip hop, just as paper was invented by man to put the word of God on, hip hop can also be be used for God's purpose.

'Holy Hip Hop' is the title of a DVD presented by Christopher Martin, better known as Play from the rap duo Kid 'n Play. He says that he has personally witnessed how Christian rap music can be used as a powerful outreach tool to advance the gospel, positively impact and change lives for the better.

But what is holy hip hop? According to Wikipedia, gospel rap uses Christian-themed lyrics to convey positive messages and express the rapper's faith. While many mainstream rap artists include rhymes about God and Jesus, artists such as Kanye West, DMX, Nas and Tupac Shakur are not considered Christian hip hop, as their lyrics focus on worldly, often profane matters. Christian hip hop and rap artists tend to be professed Christians, and use the fact that they are urban or suburban as a positive issue to spread their faith, and like all Christian music, it can be experienced as worship. Christian hip hop has a history of being dismissed by churches as sacrilegious, or devil music. G Craige Lewis makes a living out of preaching his 'anti-holy hip hop' message. No money, no support, and no funded albums were the experience of many holy hip-hoppers, but artists such as Lecrae have brought Christian rap music to mainstream audiences.

There are several reasons for opposing it. It’s too new. It’s too worldly, even blasphemous. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style. It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances, making people act disorderly. The preceding generation got along without it.

Amazingly, this is not a criticism of holy hip hop, but was written way back in 1723 about the hymns of the day. As Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun!

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Archived Comments

  • How can anyone feel that music is evil? Music isn't evil... spirits and principalities that dwell within this earth and inhabit the mind and body of specific people could be evil. If you are a part of a culture, then you can truly understand it. It's not a race, a community, or a sex, it is a mixture/collaboration of several different components that make up a specific group. The original Hip Hop music was enlightening in the early days... freedom of expression, views, voices, mindsets, a re-birth in a sense as the Renaissance Era. Here we can give the enemy so much power by saying that something as awesome as Holy Hip Hop is evil, when in fact... God created music... the world perverted it... now Holy Hip Hop is taking it back and taking it to a level that a specific generation and "culture" can receive it. If you can't receive it... just leave it be! Is Holy Hip Hop confusion or are you the confused one? Anything that glorifies God to me is beautiful. I am a 38 year old mother from South Carolina. Knine is my brother in Christ. I know his music has touched the lives of young men and women who were lost and when they heard his music and his testimony... LIVES WERE CHANGED! Now you can take that to the bank... cause it's real! — SonyG

  • Here's a thought for everyone who disagrees with holy hip hop simply on the basis of the fact that you can't tell it apart aside from the lyrics; in Japan, there's a growing niche for gospel music to the point where Japanese folks are forming their own gospel choirs and none of them are Christians. (Only 3% of Japan is Christian.) To them, gospel music is nothing more than a sound. Similarly hip-hop music is a sound. And how foolish of us to say that hip-hop culture cannot be redeemed! According to our Lord Jesus Christ, even Sodom and Gomorrah were redeemable! (Matthew 11:22-24). — Taryn

  • Hiphop can be used for God's purpose to bring souls into the kingdom. — Baffour

  • This is what Mase and Kanye West should be doing. — Kicker

  • Holy Hip Hop is great! I love the music and the words with the beats. My niece loves to dance — now she dances to music glorifying the Lord. It's good when you hear lil' kids singing lyrics that worship the Lord. — Brittaney

  • There is virtually no difference between Holy Hip Hop and the regular Hip Hop. The "new" lifestyle, beats and looks can be termed a lot of other things, but not holy. I understand the love for it and wanting to compromise being wrapped up in the music myself for a good 16 years before Jesus saved me and delivered me — also from my huge love of secular music. I currently live in a non native english speaking country; the kids out here don't know the difference either, the lyrics don't matter — the spirit is the same! — Steve

  • I agree with Steve with the fact that there is no real difference between Holy and regular hip hop. In my opinion, adding a couple scripture verses and including the name of Jesus does not necessarily make something holy and acceptable. God is not the author of confusion and (in my opinion) holy hip hop is very confusing, especially to young Christians. I see no difference between the way they perform, dress, act, neither can I tell from the music videos that they are glorifying God... to me it's very hard to distinguish the two. I do believe in getting the youth involved and going into the streets and spreading the word of God, however I do not think we have to conform to the world's standards and methods to do this. This would just be underestimating the power of God to change people's lives, He doesn't need all the help we may think He does. — Krystle

  • There is nothing like "Holy Hip Hop". Hip-hop is hip-hop. There is a difference between rap and hip-hop. Some people just call everything with a rap in it hip-hop, but there is a difference. Rap is a way of singing or whatever. Hip-hop is a culture that hides behind the fact that rapping is only a way of expressing themselves. You can rap, but hip-hopping is actually believing that you are a god and that Jesus Christ is the white man's God. Hip-hop is pure evil. We say this because satan has found a way to trap us teens and young adults into sin. Satan was the angel of music in heaven — now look at hip-hop. — Pauline

  • Simply put, He will give us the discernment to distinguish between clean and unclean... holy and unholy. Unfortunately, because the spirit of entertainment (if there is such a thing) has taken over our churches, no one knows what is holy and what is unholy. To call an all-night prayer session... you may get about a handful of people... but call a gospel concert for free, and the house will be packed! Standing room only. I recently went to a church's album release party and it was packed with 20- and 30-somethings... but the following week, I went to a conference that dealt with a big issue in the black community and the church, and there were only about 100 people. It is a sad commentary. — JD

  • This is what it is, the Bible teaches that all things were created to glorify God, so if all things are created by him, that means the only thing the devil can do is pervert. And that is what he has done with the music of today. Same as the television shows. Christian rap is not secular hip hop. One might say that it is poetic genius. Who are these people to limit what God can do to a culture. Come on man. Get at me. Stay blessed y'all. — Pastor Kells

  • I'm the promoter for STP, a Christian rap group based out of Lancaster, California. We don’t associate with the hip hop culture. We just do what God has put in our hearts and minds. I wanna say that in my spirit I feel right about what STP is doing. I can't speak for all the other Christian rap groups out there cause many rappers claim to represent Christ then they use the N-word in their records. That just doesn’t seem right to me. I feel like God is using our talents as a way to encourage and to bless others. — Freddy

  • To redeem means to bring back to the original state of affairs. Hip Hop's founding father is still alive today and he tells us what his intentions were in starting the movement. So if we say we redeem Hip Hop, and its origins were bad in the first place, then we are redeeming something bad. To redeem something for good means that it had to be in the first place good. Hip Hop is not that. People don't like to read their Word anyway, so it's hard to get the message across. Flesh can't comprehend the things of the spirit.e choir in heaven, before he got kicked out to hell, it made me think that he to can use music to give himself glory without you even knowing. — Steve Keys

  • I feel that G Craige Lewis's statement is correct when he informed us that God does not need to use the things of this world to get glory, God was the creator of music and if we as believers in Christ would seek the face of God and get into his presence we would not need to use the tactics of the devil to bring in the youth. We as young people are looking for the truth so that we may receive true deliverance. We have to look at it this way, if we mix the things of the world with the things of God it creates a state of confusion, and if the body of Christ agrees with holy hip hop then we say that we agree with hip hop in the eyes of the youth, which opens up a door that should not be opened. I understand that there is a desire to bring in the youth so that we may be saved and set free and what we need is a person to be an example of God’s glory and people that have the power of the Holy Spirit, that is how you will reach the youth. Prayer is the key, teaches us to seek the face of God. With the body of Christ we can't be fooled by the devil and I pray that the blindfolds are lifted off the eyes of God’s people for the devil is trying to fool many and if we don’t understand the move that is taking place right now in the body of Christ and in the worldly realm many will be deceived. In Jesus' name be set free. — Bonnie

  • I just can't get this evil thing, sure hip hop has a bad side and presents the worst kind of example to the youth, but it isn't the music in itself, its how it has been used and the spirit it carries. This can be a pure, spirit filled message, just as it can in any other musical form. Some of the best work in terms of outreach in the UK is coming from hip hop and it isn't watered down in terms of its praise or its beats... it's changing lives and these people aren't coming to know a different god's love. Peace. — Johnny G