Christian Hip Hop was starting to appear just a few years after hip hop was even created. The first known artist was Pete McSweet. However, the guy who took the mantle was a DJ and drummer named Stephen Wiley who would introduce the world to “Bible Break.” Wiley carried that mantle for a few years as others such as P.I.D., Michael Peace, D-Boy, and DC Talk popped up. So let’s go back to 1989…
Below are seven projects from some of Christian Rap’s earliest pioneers.
Stephen Wiley – Get Real
Stephen Wiley was the first person with any success to do Christian Hip Hop. He broke on the scene in 1985 with Bible Break and followed that up with Rappin’ For Jesus. By the time 1989 rolled around, there were a handful of other rappers having moderate success. He released his fourth record Get Real.
Notable Tracks: “Get Real” and “Born Again”
Michael Peace – Vigilante of Hope
Michael Peace was second to Wiley in terms of solo rap acts getting it done for God in the mid to late 80s. He made his debut in 1987 and by 89 would be dropping his third record with Vigilante of Hope. Also, Peace was known to never ask for a fee when performing. He felt God told him to minister for free.
Notable Tracks: “Vigilante of the Rhyme” and “How It All Started”
SFC – Listen Up
SFC dropped their second project, Listen Up, in 1989. The trio of Super C (Sup or Soup the Chemist), DJ Dove, and QP were among the most influential and popular early groups in CHH. They were known for the musicality in their music and Super and Dove would go on to help shape the future of Christian rap in the 90s working by themselves and with other artists.
Notable Tracks: “No Stoppin'” and “Plain and Simple”
D-Boy – Plantin’ a Seed
D-Boy was a young talent unfortunately taken before his time. With only two original records to his name, Plantin’ A Seed was just that, a debut that showed he was ready to grow in music and ministry. Moreso than anyone else at the time, D-Boy was a street evangelist who worked in the toughest neighborhoods and with gangs to bring them the gospel. He would be murdered at the tail end of 1990 but would go on to influence the likes of T-Bone, Corey Red & Precise, and many more.
Notable Tracks: “Pick Yourself Up” and “When I Strut”
P.I.D. – Back to Back
P.I.D. aka Prechas in Disguise consisted of Fred Lynch, Barry G., and DJ Selecta. This trio was one of the first Christian Hip Hop groups and dropped their second album Back to Back in 89. From then on there would be a few lineup changes before ultimately dropping their final album in 1991. Emcee Fred Lynch remained active in a behind the scenes role in CHH for many years.
Notable Tracks: “Back to Back” and “Bible Stories”
E.T.W. – End Time Warriors
Yet another CHH trio, E.T.W. (End Time Warriors) were signed to Forefront along with DC Talk as a push toward a hip-hop initiative. They consisted of Big Mike, Johnnie Jam and MCL King. The group started off like many of their counterparts, with fun Christian raps. As the years went by they would evolve to write about what was happening in hip-hop culture before they disbanded in 1997.
Notable Tracks: “We Are Warriors” and “E.T.W.”
DC Talk – (Self-Titled)
Everyone knows DC Talk. In 1989 they were just getting started on their legendary career. A young TobyMac was known then as DC Talk with the other two members being called the One Way Crew. That would change quickly once they signed a record deal with Forefront. However, on this record, you see Toby mostly leading the album with his golden-era style raps. This album would be the launching pad to platinum records, Dove and Grammy Awards, and the unrivaled solo careers of TobyMac, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max.
Notable Tracks: “Heavenbound” and “Spinnin’ Round”