Why you, Mr. or Ms. Critic, are (arguably) wrong about our top Christian rapper list
I got thrown out of history class once because I called my teacher an idiot.
It wasn’t a diss. I was just stating facts. This fool tried to tell me that the greatest presidents of all time were George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt — three suckas who I never heard of because they held office over 200 years ago, 150 years ago and 70 years ago, respectively.
I was like, bruh, I know you want to respect the OGs, but stop living in the past. You do know that Barack Obama has more Twitter followers than any other president COMBINED, right? He also, for the first time ever, made it cool to vote.
How you feel about these complaints to my history teacher may be how I felt about your critique of Rapzilla’s Top 20 Christian Rappers of All Time list we published on Oct. 24.
Critiques are welcome. None of our six expert panelists even agreed with each other, so I don’t expect you to agree either. We wouldn’t have concluded the Top 20-post with the question, “Who are YOUR top 20 Christian rappers of all time?” if we believed our lists were definitive and irreproachable.
This was an invitation to a conversation. Many responded to our invitation, though, in a manner that made them sound like me when I got thrown out of history class.
I know nobody reads introductions to lists. However, if you desired to understand the method behind the madness before commenting, you would’ve discovered why our most “idiotic” panelists are the way they are.
Josh Niemyjski, founder of the longest-running Christian hip-hop website, Sphere of Hip Hop, as well as a record label, Illect Recordings, have listened to Christian hip-hop since 1988. Tim Trudeau, CEO top independent digital distributor Syntax Creative and founder of another record label, Syntax Records, has listened to Christian hip-hop since 1984. That’s a combined 58 years of Christian-rap-fandom experience, according to my handy-dandy calculator.
Their lists included several rappers who I had never heard of, but they’ve been listening to Christian hip-hop longer than I’ve been breathing. I don’t have to agree with them, but there’s a certain level of respect that their wealth of knowledge demands — a certain level of open-mindedness that guys who have gotten paid to be Christian hip-hop gurus since the 1990s may just have a more accurate Top 20 list than me.
I single out Josh and Tim because they’re pioneers, but all of our panelists (whose personal lists sat at the bottom of the last page) have been invested in Christian hip hop for a decade-plus. If you haven’t closely followed the subgenre for that long, instead of asking where a certain rapper who we left off the list is, maybe you should ask why.
And I’ll tell you why: Our celebrity panelists believed — in their humble, extremely-informed opinions — they were not as talented. Influence or any other factors were not weighed. Although we commended many of the Top 20 for their contribution to Christian hip-hop, their skill set as an emcee earned them a spot.
An all-time Top 20 list with 8-15 active artists, depending on how you define active, is not biased toward old artists. If anything, it’s biased toward young artists.
I don’t know about you, but as a fan, I’m excited to discover dope Christian rappers who I’ve never heard of. I really enjoy music by Bizzle, Thi’sl and the Reach Records artists who you thought should’ve formed the Top 5, but to find artists who make music as enjoyable as theirs has me looking forward to strengthening my iPod’s roster of rappers.
Literally, all we did was compliment a bunch of rappers. The celebration of someone isn’t the slander of another. If the cause of conflict is a compliment, where does the root of that conflict lie?
I simply hope this column clarifies some misconceptions and helps achieve what we initially set out to accomplish — celebrate some dope rappers and educate a fan base which, in general, is really young in terms of how long it’s followed this music.
I bought my first Christian hip-hop album in 2010, about three decades after Sup the Chemist started to pioneer this subgenre. Those are a lot of years I need to research before I return here and tell Josh Niemyjski and Tim Trudeau how drunk on prune juice they are.
And I never actually got thrown out of history class. I just thought that was a clever, and unfortunately accurate, analogy to some reactions to The List.