Davis Absolute Explains Why Non-Christians like Chance the Rapper & Kanye’s Gospel Rap
Davis Absolute recently spoke to Rapzilla about his new album, friendships in Christian hip-hop, and mainstream music’s new love affair with gospel rap from secular rappers.
Back in February, Rapzilla posted an article about Kanye West’s album The Life of Pablo being about the Apostle Paul. While Rapzilla received a lot of heat for the article (we were right), Davis Absolute was one of the vocal commenters telling us it was a stretch.
Laughing about the above conversation, he said, “I have yet to eat the hat, but my words tasted sour.”
All kidding aside, it led to an important discussion, and one that has been getting a lot of thought recently – what’s up with mainstream’s gospel rap?
Chance the Rapper is definitely leading the charge, but Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and other artists and singers have been dabbling lately.
“People are happy dipping their toes in, more-so than getting their entire body wet,” said Absolute. “It’s very easy to ride the fence.”
There are many arguments to be made on the legitimacy of these artists’ Christianity, but the fact remains, we just don’t know. People critical of them say, “I can’t see fruit,” “They still swear in their music,” etc. Non-Christians have been known to comment on Chance’s videos and say, “This song brought me back to God.” That makes it sound like evangelism.
“I wouldn’t say Chance isn’t necessarily a Christian artist, I would say he’s a Christian trying to figure things out and his artwork is going to identify wherever he’s at currently,” said Absolute.
The question at the end of the day is, “Do you really reflect the light of Christ?”
Why is Chance doing Christian rap seen as cool, but Christian rappers doing it seen as whack? That question has been thrown around as well. From an artistic, lyrical, and even musical standpoint, Christian hip-hop is as good as its ever been right now.
“People that are really calling Christian rappers whack. I don’t know man,” said the emcee. “J Monty drops ‘100 Bars Part 3’. Nobody said that was whack. Futuristic and other secular cats were posting his stuff and obviously in awe of the artwork and artistry behind what he was going to do.”
He continued, “If your artistry isn’t up there, then you’ll immediately be called whack. In the case of a Kanye West, let’s say he really was sold out, his art is so up there and his skill set is refined, and same with Chance the Rapper, that it’s much more appealing for someone who you respect as an artist because they are so talented to say ‘I’m a Christian’ versus on the level of a Lil Yachty.”
The key fact of what Davis Absolute is saying is, if you are talented and your art is on point, it’s much easier to get respect. For guys like Chance and Kanye, their artistry is next level, so their message is received regardless of what it is.
“We have an incredibly small world in Christian hip-hop, and let’s be honest, there are a lot of whack rappers but their heart is in the right place,” he said. “You have hip-hop, which is a larger audience, maybe 100 times bigger. There are whack rappers there too, but people are expected to be as respected as artists who have spent years and years honing their craft.”
He continued, “I’ll tell a Christian rapper that he’s whack in private or in a discussion, but the common public is not going to have that filter.”
For some people, the damage has already been done. They heard a “whack” Christian rap song, and they will never give it the time of day again. Maybe they hear the term “Christian rapper,” and they assume it’s going to be preachy and won’t listen. Chance the Rapper makes a Christian-themed song with no label and the person listens without any preconceived notions.
“We have to acknowledge the artistry of some of these guys because these guys are on a different level than most of these artists are. And we have to say ‘ok. I recognize that and I respect that’. Before I start coming over here expecting to be well received by the secular crowd, I need to be in a place where my artistry is just undeniable.”
The artists of Reach Records are starting to get mainstream notice because their artwork is starting to transcend to that next level.
Reach records also created that support system for each other to stay grounded. Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, Andy Mineo, KB, GAWVI, and all the other artists that have come through became a family and a unit.
Absolute shared that when he started in Christian hip-hop, he had no friendships and was trying to do music for the Lord.
“I stepped away for awhile because I literally backslid entirely to my old life. I had just stopped smoking weed and was really heavily into it. I can’t keep making music where I’m at,” he said to himself at that point.
He then met Christian rappers and was, fortunately, able to redirect his life to God.
Much like nobigdyl. told Rapzilla, Absolute relies on his hip-hop family to keep him accountable and be there for him. That is why his song “The Body” featuring Mogli the Iceberg, Brother 3, Lawren, and nobigdyl. is a true testament to its name.
“I hit up Mogli because he’s the business guy. I bounce ideas off him. nobigdyl. is married, I ask him questions about life and marriage. Brother 3 I met and linked up with him. Never met Lawren, but hope to soon.”
He continued, “these guys are doing the same thing that I’m doing. They are experiencing similar trials to what I’m doing.”
Their encouragement toward one another becomes a driving force in pressing on.
“Maybe on a friendly competitive I see nobigdyl. doing awesome things for the Lord. I see Brother 3 doing awesome things for the Lord, all these guys I see doing incredible things and it always just reignites that fire for me,” he said. “There’s a reason why I do this and I can’t stray away from that, but also the fruits of it are very real.”
Read part one with Davis Absolute here.