Christian Rap has had a long history. We look at seven albums that turn 25 this year from Gospel Gangstaz, S.F.C., and more
25 years ago the year was 1994. The new Lion King movie would make “The circle of life” a staple in every Disney themed road trip, depending on what system you had – you were playing Super Metroid or Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and I was in diapers, very likely watching Power Rangers.
For the Christian Rap world, it would be a year of several classic and formative albums. Pioneers in the game would impact the CHH world with ripples that can be felt today. From The Gospel Gangstaz to The Boogiemonsters, Soup C to K2S, here are 8 head-nodding albums that turn 25 this year.
A-1 Swift – Turn Yourself Around
Chris and Alisha Tyler made waves in hip-hop in the early ’90s as A-1 Swift, and are said to be the first husband and wife gospel rap duo.
Turn Yourself Around is a g-funk inspired album with honest reflective lyrics and smooth west coast themed melodies.
Notable Tracks: “Turn Yourself Around” which features the late Gospel legend Daryl Coley and The Real G.
K2S – II Da X Treme
Active from the ’90s through the early ’00s, K2S (Key to Salvation) consisted of three members: siblings Donald (Smooth) and Jennifer Lee-Newman (Jen-E), and MC Kabuc.
Before the crew would receive two Dove Award nominations (Rap Song of the Year and Rap Album of the Year) for their later work, they released the upbeat, positive, gospel-heavy demo EP II Da X Treme.
Notable Tracks: “Don’t Ever Stop” “Bad Boyz of Christ”
The Boogiemonsters – Riders of the Storm (The Underwater Album)
From Jim Morrison to Bob Marley, De La Soul to Pearl Jam and beyond, The Boogiemonsters combine eclectic influences and themes with Christian undertones in what is a backpack, boom-bap album reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, or Ahmad.
The innovative Boogiemonsters were a group of five friends. They were composed of Bronx native Mondo McCann, Alaskan native Vex Da Vortex (Sean Pollard), Jamaican-born brothers Myntric (Sean Myers) and Yodared (Ivor “Al” Myers). With their sound stretching from fresh and funky to the darker or more lyrically complex narratives, The Monsters created songs dealing with everything from faith to fly honey-dips, paving the way for CHH artists today to make music that talks about God and use their life as subject matter.
Notable Tracks: “Honey Dips in Gotham,” “Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress,” and “Strange”
Gospel Gangstas – Gang Affiliated
Before there was a book store album controversy or Christian rapper battling mainstream artists, there was the Gospel Gangstas.
The Gospel Gangstas (changed to Gospel Gangstaz in subsequent releases) came on the ’90s hip-hop scene with Gang Affiliated when G-funk and gansta rap ran the airways with a sound that was both authentic and profoundly different.
With subject matter ranging from gang violence and drug addiction, to lust and police brutality, and the transformative love of Christ, Tik Tok, Mr. Solo, and Chille Chill hit a nerve with unheard of grit, and authenticity in their lyrics. While they were more reminiscent of NWA or Public Enemy than other ‘holy hip hop’ acts of the time, they never shied away from their unashamed love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Gospel Ganstaz are pioneers in the game, and undeniably the shoulders of giants many artists stand on today.
Notable Tracks: “Y Cain’t Da Homiez Hear Me?”, “Mobbin’ (Gang Affliated),” and “Tears of a Black Man.”
Michael Peace – Outta Control
Pioneer Michael Peace was one of the first solo CHH acts. He actually started in the 1980s while he was working on his masters and working as a Resident Director.
Eventually, the MC would become more in demand and began releasing albums when Vinyl and cassette tapes were still in use.
While the genre and many CHH artists were only beginning to form, Michael Peace was a veteran with Outta Control as his 9th release.
Notable Tracks: “Outta Control”
*Tracks are nearly impossible to find, but here’s a link to the album on Amazon.
S.F.C. – Illumination
S.F.C., also known as Soldiers For Christ, came onto the scene in the ’90s and lit up the Christian Music scene with a style and quality not yet seen. From the streetwise lyrics and authentic content to the high-level of sampling and scratching, S.F.C. left a stamp on CHH that would be felt decades later.
Considered to be “The Godfather of Christian Rap” Chris Cooper (also known as Super C or Soup the Chemist), would start this pioneering group with QP and DJ Dove made up the Soldiers For Christ. They would go on to sell over 100,000 records by the end of the decade. By the time Illumination was released, SFC was a solo act and Super C would eventually go solo.
Illumination jumps between conscious spoken word interludes, east coast flows, and features from such legends as LPG, Jury Big, and Jon Gibson. Illumination is a gem.
Notable Tracks: “One Time” and “Illumination”
E-Roc – The Mad Prophets
If you appreciate artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep, KRS-One, or Lords of the Underground, you’ll appreciate the NY boom bap style of E-Roc.
Before being an accomplished Emcee, E-Roc was a dancer for Vanilla Ice on M.C. Hammer’s world tour. He was event featured in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II movie. However, during the American Music Awards, he heard the call from God. He would go on to drop The Mad Prophets four years later.
Notable Tracks: “Funke Christian” and “Flippin.”