It’s easy to see that Christian Hip Hop is a growing entity that doesn’t appear close to reaching its peak anytime soon. While this expansion has brought more options for the loyal listener; it’s also has created a dilemma for those on a tight budget or limited time. Hopefully with this list, you’ll be more confident to take a chance on some newer projects from artists who you haven’t had the privilege of hearing. Though it may be a cultural cliche, these artists have, in one way or another, truly been “slept on”. Consider this your friendly wake-up call.
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Kairos by Armond:
The word Kairos, which may be foreign to some Christians, refers to a moment in time that has been conspired by God to produce greatness in the life of His servant. By bearing his all on every track, this veteran emcee presents a prolonged 79-minute moment filled with pain, persistence, confusion, clarity and Christ's redemption dripping from every bar. The production and feature credits read like an all-star cast carefully chosen to narrate a real-life documentary. If we're committed to "never living with our eyes closed" as the emcee passionately pleads, maybe we'll see the beauty in our journey too.
El v. Envy by JGivens:
If there's a better lyricist in Christian Hip Hop, you would be hard pressed to find him. This is not just because of the obvious favorable comparison to mainstream star Kendrick Lamar, but it's also the musicality and original flair that's characteristic of the NV native. By combining infinitely intricate patterns and jazzy sounds, Givens' excellence has catapulted himself into the upper-echelon of the most respected names in the culture.
The Resistance by Wes Pendleton & Tragic Hero:
Dynamic duos are often overstated and regularly fail to live up to their life-sized expectations. This cannot be said for this EP collaboration from Tragic Hero and Wes P. The soft-spoken emcee joined forces with the producers timeless creations to build a masterpiece that begs for a part 2. By deftly utilizing features from Alex Faith, Dre Murray and Marty Mar, Tragic gives us a refreshing release that is anything but his name.
Theo's Gift by Beleaf Melanin:
This posterity-driven project flies high above the typical 808-driven fare of modern music. Beleaf infuses the Cosby Show with some Left Coast flavorings, all in honor of his newborn son, Theo. Most group artists find it difficult to become individual entities. But for the career member of theBreax crew, this solo shift is as smooth as his lyrical delivery. A few well-placed features from Andy Mineo and Eshon Burgundy put icing on this cake, making it ready for listeners to eat.
InDependence by KamBINO:
If there's one thing we know about KamBINO, it's that he can rap. But even the greatest emcees will be challenged to live "in dependence" to a God who governs over them. Don't let the title fool you, Kam is still going to grab you by the collar when he bodies the track. This time, the topics are heavier, the stakes are higher and the call is stronger. As listeners model his dependence, they may be startled to realize that they're actually freer than they've ever been.
Favor Over Fury by Yaves:
Though he was formerly known as the "Street Pastor", Yaves is still doing plenty of preaching on this project. From the piercing "Speak" featuring Swoope to the pure "Dying to Live" featuring Ruslan and the posse cut "Problems", his songs are both accessible and convicting for listeners. With the contributions of his features and his solid solo work, Yaves produces what is widely being considered his best work to date.
Commissary by Sevin:
Any list of top Christian Cali rappers that doesn't include this Hog Mob member can't be serious. Beyond lyrical agility and bar patterns, few emcees are as eager to open up their lives to the scrutiny that comes with transparent tracks. You can't accuse Sevin of that. With surgical precision, he filets every beat placed on his plate and manages to convict the listener's heart at the same time. Though his content may not be for the youth group kids who frequent unashamed concerts, this divine delegate still has anything to be ashamed of with this release.
Two by The Battery:
For those "hip" to the game, the production-rapping tandem of Peace 586 and Jurny Big have been blessing beats for quite some time. For newcomers, this release serves as a welcome diversion from the mainstream sounds of Christian Hip Hop. With precision percussions, syrupy smooth spitting, and some well-placed features from former Tunnel Rats family (Propaganda, Sev Statik, Shames Worthy, and Playdough); this 9-track album does their Illect Recordings roster proud.
LUNAR by Cheno Lyfe:
This Good City Music artist released his sophomore album just in time for the summer season. For the South Florida native, this album is filled with Florida neighbors like SPZRKT, Social Club, Pettidee, Giel and more who take the project "to the moon". With a backdrop of beats exclusively made by Smash and G-Roc, Lunar listeners likely won't plan to come back down to earth anytime soon.
Hear Ye Him by No Malice:
How can a member of the legendary mainstream group The Clipse really be "under the radar"? It may seem impossible, but the recently redeemed rapper is still a new name when it comes to the Christian Hip Hop circle. Spitting like a veteran rookie, No Malice peppers his songs with usual skillful flavoring combined with a newfound mature perspective. In light of his full rejection of the devil's sinister plan for his life, both his title and content feel like an appropriate and helpful step as the genre continues to expand.
What albums would you add to this list?
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