Christian Rap Thrives in Swaziland After Church Accepts Genre
With all the attention Christian hip-hop has been receiving, it was just a matter of time before it spread across the globe. In this instance, Christ-inspired-rap has made its way to Swaziland, Africa and they are experiencing some of the same problems artists face in America.
An article featured on Okay Africa’s ‘On the Map Series’ explored Swaziland’s growing Christian hip-hop community.
According to the article, around 82% of Swaziland’s population identify as Christians, but just like in the American church, the genre of music was not readily accepted by the body. The nation is a stomping ground for gospel music, but rap had no real place to cultivate.
Author Sabelo Mkhabela wrote, “The church isn’t too accepting of a young man in sagging pants and a flat cap turned backwards talking about Jesus over loud 808s and hi-hats.”
The same can be said about Christian hip-hop in the U.S. as churches initially frowned upon it until they saw the heart behind it. It’s interesting to see that despite the major cultural differences, the church’s reservations about whether hip-hop can be holy or not is the common ground. Dutch emcee, Jay-Way, also shared a similar sentiment.
The rappers and poets showcased in the Swaziland article are part of a crew called P1.7. They consist of Skeel, Calliber, Wesley, Switch, Poetic Soul, and X.O. The Hip-Hop Apostle.
P1.7 stands for Proverbs 1:7, which states “The fear of The Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Calliber says they use this verse as a mantra to being a Christian rapper.
Skeel recalls telling people his mixtapes were conscious hip-hop because when he’s mention it was Christian poetry and rap, they’d “lose interest” because it wasn’t cool. He said making these “compromises” helped to get his message out until the music carried enough weight for people not to care if it mentioned Jesus anymore.
“They’ve become intrigued,” shared Skeel. “In Swaziland, it’s become some form of a new genre. For a long time, we weren’t getting the attention. Because things that are associated with Christ are looked down upon.”
Things have become so good for Christian hip-hop that Skeel has an entire radio show dedicated to playing Christian rap.
Another emcee making waves is Switch. He has twice won Hip-Hop Artist of the Year at National Arts and Culture Awards in 2013 and 2015.
Wesley even started a clothing line called Christ Attributes. All the clothing features Christian sayings and scripture.
So while these Christian emcees are unknown over in the States, look for them to become the trendsetters of Swaziland as they continue to reach souls for Christ across Africa.
Check out the crew’s Soundcloud playlist here.