Hispanic Heritage Month: Why Representation Matters in Christian Hip-Hop
Since the hip-hop genre was born, it has long been considered a “black sport.” While the vast majority of hip-hop artists are indeed black, there has always been a Hispanic-Latino contingent within hip-hop.
In mainstream hip-hop, there are names like Big Pun, Fat Joe, Cardi B, Pitbull, and Daddy Yankee. Some of these artists are a bit older and have experienced the growth of the genre while others are just beginning to find success in the modern day. In Christian hip-hop the story is similar. We have artists from a range of ages representing the Hispanic-Latino culture. Whether it be GAWVI, Loso, DJ Mykael V, Angie Rose, Social Club Misfits (both Marty and Fern), Lawren, Mogli the Iceberg, WHATUPRG, or so on, the Latino contingent within CHH is not only growing, but it is thriving.
As the genre grows to include a diverse set of artists, the need for representation has become a pressing matter for all. As such, it seems important to cast a spotlight on a portion of the tracks and projects that have helped to make representation a reality for the Hispanic-Latino community this year.
*Last year we wrote an article about Latinos starting to become a majority in Christian rap. Read about it here.*
KB – “Long Live the Champion” (ft. GabrielRodriguezEMC & Yariel)
KB may not be a Latino artist, but he certainly has shown love for the community. On “Long Live the Champion,” the artist attacks the oppression faced by Latinos head-on, spitting bars such as, “Weep before you speak think before you eat/How you love a country’s food more than its people” and “Yes I love the kingdom more than I love my nation/Yes I love my neighbor more than I love his papers.”
KB has become an outspoken defender of the oppressed, and he is now using his platform to advance those in the midst of struggle.
The song was also produced by Cardec, who is one of the top Latino producers in CHH.
Andy Mineo – “You Can’t Stop Me Remix” (ft. Messiah)
Like KB, Andy Mineo is not a Hispanic-Latino artist per say, but he has certainly given a similar level of appreciation to the community. For years, Mineo has included Spanish lyrics in his music, and this year was no exception. To celebrate the Never Land single “You Can’t Stop Me” going gold, Mineo decided to do a remix with a Latin influence. The product was a GAWVI and Alex Medina produced Spanglish record with a verse from Dominican artist Messiah.
WHATUPRG – Pleasant Hill & “Glow”
WHATUPRG’s Mexican heritage has been one of the focal points of his short career. His most recent project, Pleasant Hill carries deep influences from the artist’s heritage, particularly the fourth track, “Wesside.” The song features a melodic Latin beat with lines like “Young hijo de Dios/I ain’t got no choice/Yo te canto en Inglés and then en Español” which emphasize both the artist’s faith and bilingual ability. As for “Glow” the outro of the track includes a voicemail from RG’s mother who quotes Matthew 23:12 in Spanish.
Social Club Misfits – Into The Night
Into The Night, one of the earliest Christian hip-hop projects of this year, featured not one, but two Spanglish records from Marty and Fern. The two Puerto Rican stars released “Tuyo” which has risen to become one of the most popular records in their catalog, and “Solo,” the outro of the album. The success of the songs, particularly “Tuyo” continues to prove that Spanish lyrics have a place in the realm of Christian hip-hop, and the Capitol duo is sure to release more records in the language of their motherland soon enough.
Illtalian – “Just Hold”
His final release as Illtalian, he bid farewell with a grateful look back at his Na Hoku Hanohano (or “Hawaiian Grammy”) award win. In the midst of his song of appreciation, Illtalian decided to try his hand at a few lines in Spanish. The artist’s reflective attitude paired with his loving Spanish lyrics make for an exceptional farewell to the Illtalian, and a pleasant welcome to what comes next.
DJ Mykael V – “Mia” (ft. nobigdyl. & WHATUPRG)
In preparing the Christian hip-hop community for this release, DJ Mykael V emphatically declared “Summer ain’t over yet” on Twitter. Based on the content of this track, he was right. Featuring two of the four indie tribe members, “Mia” is a song of romance, laden with the spirit of the Latin genre. As the melody plays in the background, WHATUPRG spits part of his verse in Spanish while DJ Mykael V’s hook is sung in the very same language. While nobigdyl may not have a single word of Spanish in his verse, he meets his bilingual collaborators with the same level of energy.
GAWVI – Panorama
For months now, we have known GAWVI was working on a larger project, which was recently confirmed to be Panorama. From the seventeen song album, there have been five singles released: “SLIGHSHOT,” “Fight For Me,” “Fashion Joe,” “GET EM,” and “With You.” While “Fight For Me” has proven to be the most popular so far (with additional thanks to Reach Records founder and GAWVI’s labelmate, Lecrae), each song has proven that GAWVI is not “just a producer.” While it is true that he has produced some of our favorite Christian hip-hop hits, GAWVI is just as capable of bringing his unique vocals onto a track.
Mogli The Iceberg – Let’s Talk About Our Feelings
Each member of the indie tribe collective has released a number of singles and full-length projects this year. Mogli The Iceberg had the drive to get one more album in before the year was up. Following up on his April release: Sad People Make Dope Music, Two singles from the album, entitled “I Don’t Wanna Die Right Now,” and “See Me as I Am” have released, alerting listeners to the tone of the album. Mogli is refusing to bottle up and hide his feelings, taking his listeners on an emotional ride.
Datin – Hell in the Hallway
This last year, Datin went through the unfortunate experience of a divorce. With Hell in the Hallway, the God Over Money star opened up about the pain this event caused him, but more importantly, how God got him through the experience. With the support of close friends and the loving embrace of his Father in Heaven, Datin was able to overcome the agony of his divorce and trek forward into the next stage of his career.
Angie Rose – “That Fire” (ft. Shope)
Angie Rose’s love for the island of Puerto Rico is no secret. Following the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the Bronx native used her influence to give continuous support to the island. With “That Fire,” Rose took the sound of the island’s music and rapped over it, begging the question “If you were mine, would you remind me that He is mine?” Rose blends her love for God with her love for her island, uniting sound and faith to create a tribute to Puerto Rico.
OnBeatMusic – Various Tracks/Projects
Since winning the 2016 Rapilla beat battle contest, OnBeatMusic has been a busy man. Producing for a ton of artists including nobigdyl, Eric Heron, Lawren, Angie Rose, and Derek Minor, to name a few, the producer has been hard at work. Creating a diverse set of beats for each of his projects, OnBeatMusic is not slowing down any time soon, and Rapzilla is excited to see where he goes moving forward.
Hispanic Impact in CHH:
The Latino artists and their advocates within the Christian hip-hop community are some of the most powerful with stories and voices that can match up with the best of any genre. Whether they are producing, rapping, or singing, each artist is grinding. However, it is not simply musical ability which connects these artists, it is their love for God and representation of the Hispanic-Latino communities. In one way or another, each of these artists has done a service to the culture in representing Hispanic-Latinos and glorifying their God in Heaven along the way. For the culture, the faith, and for the Father.