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My favorite teacher ever was my high school chemistry teacher Mr. Cuba. He wasn't a young, hip, cool teacher. In fact it was quite the opposite. Older, slim-ish build, and an uber nerd. Every year on Halloween he wore a full out Star Trek uniform to class. I mean the whole one piece, snug fitting uniform. He wasn't cool to us inner city kids but he was a favorite for many of us. But one thing he NEVER did with us was grade on a curve. If we got all of the questions on the test right, then he never wrote "Excellent!" or "Super Job!!" He would only write "satisfactory." You'd get 100% of the questions correct and he'd only put "satisfactory." Why? Well, his philosophy was "If I spent the last few days teaching it to you, and you got them all correct what's excellent about that? I taught it, now you know it so show it. That's satisfactory." So because of this he NEVER graded us on a curve. If we all got 100% then cool. If we all got 35% then that's what we earned. The standard is the standard and there's no point in changing it just because we all fell short. Either he needed to teach it better or we needed to pay attention more but either way there were NO curves. (And for the record, this was in an honors type of program).
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Brian Dye is the founder and pastor of Legacy Fellowship Church, a multiplying house church movement in the city of Chicago.

I have spent my entire life living in two inner city neighborhoods of Chicago (Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park). It is easy to believe that God has abandoned these two communities due to the poverty, crime, lack of education, absence of fathers and hopelessness.

While many would want to avoid these two communities, I have come to understand God’s sovereignty in determining the boundaries of my dwelling place. God has invited me to be His presence for those seeking Him. God has invited me into His mission for those feeling their way towards Him.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:26-28)
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Kanye West knows that religion is a topic that always sparks conversation. Obviously, when one of Hip-Hop’s biggest stars decides to name his album Yeezus, many people are going to have an opinion. While there have been conflicting reports to what the actual title is, No Malice of The Clipse, has added to the discussion on the representation of Jesus Christ in Hip-Hop.

“The Game’s Jesus Piece, Clipse’ Lord Willin’, Kanye’s album; before I had a personal knowledge and revelation of my Lord and Savior I was liable to do or say anything that a devout Christian may deem blasphemous,” No Malice told AllHipHop.com exclusively. “I put His head on a chain, flooded Him with diamonds then used that same chain to seduce women.”
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Imagine this - you finally finish recording your album and it has been is mixed and mastered. Additionally, your artwork is complete and you are ready to promote your singles. The only issue that you experience revolves around the lack direction in regards to creating a buzz for your new album.

Currently the favored music sales model is single driven. ITunes, and most all digital retailers sell albums but most of the revenue is generated through individual songs sales. So what does this suggest?

The aforementioned paragraph suggests that you need to promote your singles. Your singles need to generate interest for your album. Below I will share 5 cost effective ways to promote your single.
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Chris Broussard is officially a villain. Yes, he is an outcast, the latest in a long line of social pariahs deemed to be unworthy of the dignity of his own opinions. On Monday, Chris was called upon by his network ESPN to do his job, and was asked a series of questions in response to Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay athlete in any of the major sports.
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Last night I had dinner with some friends and some people I just met, and they introduced me to a wonderful new game. It’s called the phone game. Its actually quite simple. Everyone takes out his/her phone and places it on the table. The first person who touches their phone loses and has to pay for the ENTIRE bill. And since we were 12 deep, the stakes were pretty high. And of course phones were vibrating, chiming, blinking and more. Facebook, twitter, text message notifications all over the place. You want to answer? Go ahead but it’ll cost you. And that night the urge to disconnect from the large group of people around you would have set you back $100.37 (includes the gratuity for a party over 7). And the conversations we had were great. Some were funny, some were deep, some caused us to get to know more about other people and showed me that we were connected to some of the same people in our pasts. The results were amazing. Amazingly human.
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Photo by Philip Rood

Guess which rapper is unashamed to call himself a Christian, talks to God in his music, raps to change lives and his greatest critics are in his own demographic.

“That would be me,” laughed Lecrae.

The Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist suits this depiction perfectly. However, Rapzilla had another artist in mind to whom this description applies just as well: Machine Gun Kelly (MGK).
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For almost 10 years I’ve been deeply involved, as an artist/producer/designer, in an amazing movement of Christians who have been making Hip-Hop and Rap music. Due to recent success many within the movement have feared that some are shrinking back from the original mission. But I see a bigger issue at hand. Those who have been instrumental in shaping the foundation of Christians who create/produce rap music, have not been helpful from the beginning of the movement in laying a proper whole life theology of art for those in it.
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We have compiled a long list of up and coming Christian artists doing Hip Hop music and over the last few months, narrowed down that list to 13. These freshman are who we suggest you to look out for in 2013. The main qualifier that Rapzilla staff utilized was that the artists could not have more than one official release. If an artist has had two official albums released, that would be referred to as their sophomore album. So an artist that has released several mixtapes and been a feature on other albums, yet only released 1 official album, is a freshman by definition, not talent. Without further ado, read on to see our picks.
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Not since the wild card New York Giants beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl have we seen an "upset" like we saw at the Grammy's. Lecrae won the Grammy for "Best Gospel Album" by beating out Israel Houghton, James Fortune, Anita WIlson and the man who EVERYONE thought was a shoe in for the award - gospel legend Marvin Sapp. It was an upset according to many industry insiders such as Bebe WInans and more.

For me, when they eliminated the "Rap/Rock Gospel album" category, I never thought a straight hip-hop act would EVER win a Grammy in that field.
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His name is Jin — short for Jin Auyeung.

But as a high-schooler in Miami, he was better known as "the Chinese kid who raps," a reputation he's developed after frequenting local talent shows and rap competitions.

In 2004, at 22, he became the first Asian-American to release a solo rap album on a major label in the U.S.
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Today the news of Andy Mineo's debut album release 'Heroes For Sale' was announced. Along with that announcement came the unveiling of a spectacular album cover design.

The cover was created by the design and illustration studio Invisible Creature founded by Don & Ryan Clark, otherwise known as the lead vocalist and former guitarist of the Christian heavy-metal band Demon Hunter.
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After weeks of time, effort, and debate from the staff at Rapzilla, we bring to you our nominations for who we chose as leading in a specific category as it relates to doing music. The categories for 2012 are: Artist, Album, Free Album, Single, Group/Crew, New Artist, Record Label, Producer, Album Cover, and Music Video.

To qualify to be nominated, the artist must have released an official full length album, or EP available at retail outlets with a release date between December 2011 and November 2012. We will be following up and posting the winners by reader votes as well as Rapzilla's Best of 2012 picks. Voting ends January 20th 2012.
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It’s always fun to meet someone who has a similar testimony.

My story in a nutshell is this: I loved all things hip-hop, and I did not love Jesus. God was merciful to me. He made me aware of my sin and my sin’s consequences. And, against that backdrop, it allowed me to see the cross in an entirely different light.

I have some close friends with the same story. As I have traveled to a few conferences and ministry training events, I’ve met people all throughout the U.S. (and Canada) whose stories involve these elements.
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1. Multiple heavy hitters are releasing new projects
There is so much new music scheduled to come out in 2013 and a lot of it is by the leaders in our genre. Andy Mineo, Da' T.R.U.T.H (January), Lecrae, Canon (May), Sho Baraka (January), the 2nd King Kulture compilation, R-Swift (April), Beautiful Eulogy (Braille, Odd Thomas and Courtland Urbano), Rhema Soul, Bizzle and more have either announced a release date or revealed that they are in the lab creating new material. There will not be a lack of content in Christian Hip-Hop next year.
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Written by Shai Linne

A few months back, I read an article on Rapzilla entitled “What Kendrick Lamar Can Teach Christian Hip-Hop”. I have many thoughts about the article and the mindset it represents. I’m thankful for Rapzilla’s willingness to allow me to respond. While I’m sure the author was well-intentioned there were a number of things that troubled me about the article.
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Matthew Movement is created by a pair of brothers from Orlando Florida. We ran into the owners of the designer t-shirt line at Flavor Fest in Tampa Florida this past October. The designs grabbed my attention and kept me from walking on to an artist interview we were about to film. The designs were all different but you could sense there was a theme. Once I heard the concept behind each design and that the theme was the 10 commandments I was hooked. The designs took on so much more meaning and it became clear that these were awesome conversation pieces and ministry tools. Matthew Movement coins themselves as moral pioneers in the fashion industry, making statements and setting standards through high quality products. Matthew Movement's clothing is used to express their unique worldview. They approach social taboos with a fresh and bold perspective, desiring to spark a positive change in our culture.

Check out all 10 commandement designs for men and women after the jump.
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Already Been Chewed is the design studio of Barton Damer. They work with a variety of clients including Nike, Rob Dyrdek's Street League Skateboarding, Facebook, DGK, and Supra Footwear. You were almost certainly introduced to Barton's work from the video intro and outro on Rapzilla's videos on YouTube. More recently you were exposed to Barton's work with FLAME's cover art for his album 'The 6th'.

Reach Records always does a great job of branding their albums. When Lecrae approached Barton Damer, owner and creative mind behind Already Been Chewed to create live visuals for his Gravity set, Damer instantly had the idea of turning the Gravity logo into a floating city that would rise up and orbit into space. However, there is a lot more thought that goes into the visuals than simply trying to make something that looks dope. Damer always tries to design with purpose to give a deeper meaning to his art and that includes creating unique moments throughout the live show.
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Written by Julian "J.Kwest" Deshazier

Kendrick Lamar's new album, "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City", is brilliant, period. If for nothing else, it fully encapsulates the sound of an emerging (here!) Cali - artists who grew up with (but not as) the bangers, and possess the acumen to convey without glorifying that life through the music. With Dre's help, I'm listening again to a Cali I grew up wishing I knew better. I'm listening again to sounds that only could come out of Cali.
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I know this piece won't earn me ANY fans and will likely get me called an Uncle Tom, sell out, house (GASP! can't use that word in 2012, but it rhymes with trigger) and many other misunderstood negative names will be thrown around. With that being an honest reality, allow me to share something with you.

I'm grateful that God saves men and women in hip-hop culture. And make no mistake about it, hip-hop IS a culture. Hip-hop has a certain set of beliefs, behaviors and customs that are very much a part of what makes it what it is and thank God for the men and women dedicated to reaching people shaped by the culture. Like no other culture, urban America has been radically shaped by the culture of hip-hop. With that in mind, we must remember that as Christ is saving us, there are some things we must RECEIVE from the culture, REDEEM from the culture and REJECT from the culture.
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Rich Perez is the pastor of Christ Crucified Fellowship in (Washington Heights) New York City.

“My soul takes boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad” As a native New Yorker it’s tough seeing others get the glory or recognition that you would like to be getting. Humility is not the cup we often, if at all, drink. If we are entirely honest, we’d admit that we want as many “likes” on our statuses as the next person. We want as many following up on us and we want as many re-tweeting our self – proclaimed clever and witty statements on Twitter.
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Read Part 1 of this article here.

Leonce Crump II is the pastor at Renovation Church in Atlanta Georgia.

This is the lynchpin, because He chose us before the foundation of the world, and in love, He predestined us for adoption. So we are predestined, chosen, and adopted. Before the concept of time itself existed, before the Evil One turned in pride from God to his own works, before the unveiling of creation itself…God chose His children.   Now, I want to slow down, and pause, so that you absorb the great, cosmic, joy-laden words of Paul here…so that you can soak in what is being communicated here. As far back as imagination will allow, before the dawn of time, it was there that God chooses us.    Are you feeling the very tangible weight of such a statement? Do you understand all of the implications of this, that the Father chose us before He even created us? What a glorious realization!
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A Preface for my Christ Family

Recently, I had the chance to read an article in XXL Magazine, which had the potential to excite me because it focused on Christian rap, but in the end somewhat disappointed and even grieved me. Internally, I was restless until finally deeming it necessary to respond for the sake of the glory of Christ, the benefit of His people, and the benefit of the mission to reach hip hop with the gospel.
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design by Joe Richardson

John Onwuchekwa is the pastor at Blueprint Church in Atlanta, GA.

Here’s the problem
Had a conversation with a good friend of mine this past week as we were on the back porch grilling. Having just celebrated a birthday, we were talking about the “good ole days” and what’s wrong with these “young bucks” nowadays. My good friend shared with me a story about a guy he had a conversation with. He asked the younger guy what he was “learning.” The younger dude responded by recounting all the books he was reading, restating all of the quotes that he tweeted from the books that he read. When he got done, my friend repeated the question, “so what are you learning?
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design by Jermaine Haggerty

Rich Perez is the pastor of Christ Crucified Fellowship in (Washington Heights) New York City.

A Gospel Community: A Re-Emphasis on Mission

Right teaching leads to right practice. Gospel intake should lead us to gospel living. Enlightened and transformed by the light of the gospel message, with Jesus as it's center, we are not merely encouraged, but rather mandated by it to live a lifestyle of missions.
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A breakdown & insight of one of the most important projects in Christian Hip-Hop history.

One of the biggest gripes with Christian hip-hop is its’ lack of creativity. Either there’s a barrage of Reach/Lampmode clones or a desperate attempt to latch onto trends secular hip-hop threw out the window several years prior (*glares at auto-tune/screwed up hooks & trap beats*). For there to be such an assortment of rappers that are certain God called them to preach the Gospel, it seems a large part have fallen into the trap of saying the same thing in the exact same way.
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