Ike Hill and Cutright are Molding Our Country’s Future with God & Hip Hop
ODB famously said Wu-Tang is for the children. Ehhh, probably not, but these two guys are – Ike Hill and Cutright. The two most active members of JustHisLeague have hit over 500 schools in the last year and a half. All the while speaking life through hip-hop to the next generation. I had a chance to be a fly on the wall and watch these men minister, and it was a treat.
The road warriors pulled up to this Edison, NJ school after already performing two sets earlier in the morning at a school about an hour away. Their SUV had a trailer latched to the back that featured their likenesses and social media pages. Inside it was enough gear to throw a small festival. These guys were more prepared than Fyre Festival.
Cutright and Hill travel with about eight speakers, hundreds of feet of cables, microphones, lighting, a projector, interfaces, laptop, backdrops, and a screen. Every show, sometimes up to four in one day, they haul all this stuff out – set up and break down. Hill said, in the beginning, it would take them an hour to do it all. Now, like seasoned pros, they can get it all done in about 25 minutes. It was something they needed to do out of necessity because most schools aren’t equipped with what they need. For them, the experience is everything. These kids and teens may have never been to a concert before. So this first time needs to be memorable.
The pair of rappers are currently from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their tour has taken them through every continental state. The crowds in each state are different, but their message remains the same.
In dealing with mostly public schools, Cutright and Hill aren’t allowed to share the gospel. However, that doesn’t mean they have to hide their faith. They have reworked a couple of their tracks to swap the gospel message for a positive one. Their whole roughly 45-minute set is based on encouragement, positivity, and building with others. They call the whole thing “R.A.P.” or Realize Anything’s Possible. It stands boldly on their backdrop banner. It is through this that they are able to implant the seeds of the gospel by letting their light shine.
When Jesus said, “Let the children come onto me,” this was to instill how important their minds are. He didn’t preach the gospel to them. He just wanted to sit with them and love on them. This is what they are doing in the R.A.P. program. After the show, the kids run to the two of them energized asking for autographs or challenging Ike to one-on-one basketball games. They greet every kid and then hand them a card with more info. It is there, that the students can follow or look them up and find Hill and Cutright’s Christian hip hop.
On the occasion where they are at a Catholic or Christian school, they are free to add scripture and Jesus into their set as they please.
The duo has two different acts they perform. One for new schools, and one for schools they’ve visited before. In this case, it was a new school. They performed five songs, did a freestyle contest with two students, did a teachers and students dance-off, and a few other student participation games. The entire gymnasium was going crazy with kids jumping up and down and dancing.
However, their brand of children’s ministry is not without its detractors. Many people who don’t understand hip hop are weary of their performance. From the time they are booked and even before they go on, Cut and Ike make it clear that everything is positive, clean, and encouraging. At this particular school, the principal didn’t seem to believe them. She must have asked them individually at least 5x times and even approached me asking if they swore in their music. She was then hovering over their every move and looked visibly stressed at the fact hip hop was happening at her school.
According to Cutright, this had never happened to them before in that capacity. Maybe in the beginning, but once everyone sees what they do and the kids’ excitement, minds are put at ease. The school booked them to perform, so how could this have been a shock? The kids were ecstatic, the teachers were having a blast and very grateful at the end. The principal just left and didn’t say a word to them when it wrapped up. It was pretty sad, but at the end of the day, they were there for the kids. It’s kind of reminiscent of hip hop not being allowed in churches as it was coming up as a legitimate genre. Now, rap music and culture are inescapable, so better to have them than kids reciting lyrics to what they hear on the radio.
One student in another town told them,” Your music would be better if it had curses in it.” It was a surprising statement, but yet, not so surprising given the climate we live in.
Once the show finished and they packed everything into their trailer and were free for the day. Every once in a while they have an off day but for the most part, they average about two stops a day. The coolest part is that they get to take in all the sights, food, and culture of every state and city they stop in. They also get to do this full-time and make a successful living off of music. It’s not the conventional “rock star” lifestyle all musicians aspire for, but for them, they are moving in purpose. They get to impart God and hip hop on the future, get paid to take care of their families, and have the ability to still create freely outside of their “R.A.P.” tours.
Cutright is married and looking to start a family and Ike Hill is married with four kids. For them, it all comes together. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for a tragic scam that put them tens of thousands of dollars into debt. It was actually something that affected numerous artists in Christian hip hop (Going to save this story for another time). They saw how they were burned, and created all this on their own with the help of a booking agency. In a way, Hill and Cutright are hip hop entrepreneurs.
Right now, they are being leaders in a space often neglected. Sometimes youth group rappers are frowned upon or deemed corny. Ike Hill and Cutright aren’t even at youth groups! They are in the trenches of regular everyday public schools not surrounded by Christians, Bibles, and enthused parents. The two of them school missionaries and reaching those who need it the most. Too often they hear stories about suicide and depression coming from kids in elementary school. The hold on their minds is real. Only time will tell what these rapping missionaries’ long-term impact will be on tomorrow’s leaders.
Check out some pics from my adventure with Ike Hill and Cutright below:
View this post on Instagram
Got to trek out with these dope brothers to a show in NJ and then to Staten for some food and gear. @mistercutright & @ikenmic have performed for 500 schools in the last year and a half. . . . #justhisleague #shaolin #statenisland #wutang #richmondhoodcompany #fenixstudios #wutangclan #wutangforthechildren #chh #christianrap #rap #hiphop #christianhiphop #deninos #nyc #pizza #nypizza #edison #rapzilla #tour #charlotte