Hip-Hop music is a major force in today’s music and culture, and it is hard to imagine a time without it. However, in the late 80s and early 90s, it was still in its infancy which caused many moments that can be perceived as “Not so Hip-Hop.”
So what is worse than those moments? Answer – when Christian artists, many still popular today, tried to pull off this “new and fancy” style of music.
These five Not So Christian Hip-Hop Moments should be enough for one article.
1. Michael W. Smith “Love Crusade”
Who doesn’t know who M.W.S.? He is among the top Christian artists of all time and has penned many of the industry’s greatest and most well-known worship and contemporary songs.
31 years ago on his acclaimed Go West Young Man record, Smith tried his hand at rapping in the song “Love Crusade.”
Highlight: “So don’t ever let your heart be swayed/ Draw the sword, slay the dragon/ Get on the bandwagon/ And be a fighter on the Love Crusade”
Listen below: (Rap at 2:35)
2. Steven Curtis Chapman “Got 2B Tru”
Again, Steven Curtis Chapman is no doubt a legend in Christian CCM. But sometimes legendary status has its limits. The song title was even stylized in old-school hip-hop fashion “2b Tru.”
The year was 1992, Chapman released one of the more well-known albums, The Great Adventure. What was even more awesome was that if you turned the casing over it had a song with a TobyMac feature.
Yes, even back then TobyMac was popular, and at that time he was indeed perhaps the top and most known rapper in Christian hip-hop. But perhaps much to the surprise of S.C.C. fans, it was the singer who carried most of the rap lines himself.
Highlight: So ya hear me sayin’ that Its gotta be true/ So now my home boy Toby is gonna talk to you, True”
Here’s a funny video of Chapman explaining how the song came about.
3. Carman “Addicted to Jesus” featuring DC Talk
Oh, Carman, where do we start? Carman was making Christian music since the late 70s and has reached millions with his ministry and records.
In the 80s and 90s, Carman would bank on current trends, creative storytelling, and at the time big-budget production music videos that looked more like movies. At some point between 1989-1995, Carman began infusing “rap verses” in his tracks. Every Sunday school kid, and maybe their parents would bop around rhyming the lyrics to “R.I.O.T.,” “Resurrection Rap,” or this gem, “Addicted to Jesus.”
What made this track so special? Not only did it have a feature by TobyMac, but the rest of his DC Talk bandmates were in it as well, Kevin Max and Michael Tait.
The song features Carman and DCT’s at the time signature dancing and urban set environments.
And yes, again, we head back to 1992…
Highlights: “Yo, what up fellas?/ Hey, have you heard A to J?/ I’m talking A to J?/ As in are you A to J?/ Let me take you to school”
Watch below and see what Carman had to say about his rapping in this interview.
4. DC Talk “I Don’t Want It”
In the early 90s, DC Talk was king in Christian music. They helped introduce elements not heard before in CCM music. With every record, they released they progressively got better and introduced more blends of rap, pop, r&b, and rock.
The young mastermind behind the whole operation, TobyMac.
With that intro out of the way, DC Talk put out some truly cheesy songs early in their career. Most of those can be excused because of how young the craft was and some of the same music happening in the mainstream – Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, and Marky Mark.
Going back to the magical year of 1992, the trio released a classic, Free At Last. All of the tracks on the album hit hard and some hold up very well by today’s standards as the production was top notch. The song “I Don’t Want It” is not one of those songs.
The song has a valid message: tell the world to keep its sex because I don’t want it.” That seems simple enough. Where it gets weird is when the song is played in arenas and churches and there are 1,000s of kids, parents, and youth leaders screaming in solidarity “I don’t want it, I don’t want it, want it/ I don’t want it, I don’t want your sex.”
Highlight: “1-900-L-O-V-E, S-E-X is on the TV/ Too much skin is in your vision/ You gotta make the right decision.”
5. Audio Adrenaline (Self-Titled Release)
There are going to be two themes that run consistently, the year 1992, and DC Talk.
Now with that out of the way, Audio Adrenaline has been a band since the late 80s, the core of which rocked out until 2006 before coming back with two different incarnations.
As a young struggling band, Audio A got their big break after TobyMac heard a recording of one of their songs and pitched their demo to Forefront Records. With DC Talk’s stamp of approval, Audio A was signed and they released their first album in…1992.
To be honest, their entire first record is not really A.A’s fault but the result of Forefront wanting a DC Talk clone. Prior to their signing, they were a heavier rock band who joked around on two tracks with some over-the-top rap elements in the style of “No Sleep Til Brooklyn.” When Audio Adrenaline was forced to turn those jokes into something serious it fell flat.
After that album, everybody wised up, and the group went on to have a successful career churning out hit record after hit record.
Listen to two of the tracks below:
What did you think of the list? Do you remember these tracks? Who did we miss?