As the current generation of the most influential Christian hip-hop artists rocked the stage at The Legacy Conference this summer, the man just to the right of me rubbed his chin and nodded approvingly.
He looked like a proud father.
As a member of Cross Movement – the group that has arguably had the biggest influence on the current crop of Christian hip-hop artists – Phanatik’s legacy of “sparking a holy culture” lives on today through the current batch of Christ-centered emcees.
These days, the Philly-born, Christian hip-hop pioneer still has his pen and pad in hand, putting out heat for the Christian hip-hop community. Only these days it’s in book form.
Phanatik recently released his second fictional work, City of Allegory Book II: The Handy-man’s Fix, which is the follow-up to the original book, City of Allegory. Both are self-published and available at Amazon.com.
If you are a fan of Phanatik’s storytelling and witty wordplay, the City of Allegory books won’t disappoint you. If you’re not familiar with his music, go to YouTube and listen to “Card Sharks,” “Come Home,” or “95 Degree Angles.” It’s a good opportunity to acquaint yourself with a trailblazer in Christian hip-hop history.
For a new author, Phanatik does a good job with plot and character development. In the first book, a young man named Tru-Man searches for true “Soul Food,” instead of the junk food served in the city’s most popular eatery, Halfway’s. Not everyone in Nameless City, however, wants Tru-Man to find the true soul food. As the story unfolds, readers realize Phanatik has invited them into a hip-hop allegory of the gospel story. Think along the lines of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress remixed with C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series in an urban contest.
In the follow-up, Handy-man’s Fix, a maintenance attendant called the Handy-man befriends one of the group home residents, Mrs. Coalman. Handy-man agrees to be a father figure to Mrs. Coalman’s granddaughter Treasure, but the plan hits a snag when Handy-man and Treasure become enslaved to traps set for them at Halfway’s.
Every guy will be able to relate to Handy-man’s addiction to the Electric Blue Room, while every woman will relate to Treasure’s fight to remain close with her best friend Innocence. All believers will recognize the cultural engagement done by a group of agitators who try to persuade the residents of Nameless City away from Halfway’s meals and to search for truly fulfilling soul food.
Both books are page-turners. Phanatik paces the books well, making the reading easy and enjoyable. After reading both books in a couple of days, my favorite part has been re-reading them aloud to my five kids. It’s a great way to discuss the gospel.
Phanatik once again finds himself as a pioneer in the genre, successfully making the transition from Christian rapper to Christian writer. Here’s hoping that, once again, many choose to follow in his footsteps.