The State of Christian Rap & Why it’s Not Played on the Radio (Elevation Conference)
At the 2019 Elevation Conference, Derek Minor, Chad Horton, and Spechouse formed a panel on the state of Christian Rap. With Justin Sarachik hosting, the panel navigated through topics such as what the genre needs to grow and problems that are currently in front of the genre.
Sarachik started the panel asking, Why doesn’t Christian Rap get radio play on Christian stations? Minor said the main gist is that those who fund the radio stations don’t like Rap.
“Most Christian radio stations are built off their donor base,” Minor said. “Usually Rap music is a young person’s genre. Young people are not donors to these radio stations. Their market is usually 40 and above and suburban. Hip-Hop is more prevalent in the city. So those donors don’t really like the genre.”
Horton doesn’t think that is the main issue. Everyone likes Hip-Hop, especially white people. The biggest name in the game is Eminem, and the biggest rapper connected to Christian Rap is NF. White kids are the ones buying much of the music. Also, Hip-Hop has been around so long that those who are running the industry, including those radio stations, grew up alongside Hip-Hop.
“Everyone likes Hip-Hop pretty much, so I think it might be a deeper issue. Well, I think it might be a racial issue,” Horton explained.
Spechouse built on both Minor and Horton’s ideas by saying that radio executives play songs they think a soccer mom will listen to. They will not listen to a Tyler, the Creator song, but once an artist like Kanye West becomes associated with pop culture or a celebrity, they will then listen to them.
“When you started rapping to Christians – same thing when I started rapping and getting into it – everybody in the youth group loved it. All the parents loved it, they all listen to rap. But the pastor was like, ‘We are not letting you rap in our church.’ It made no sense, [had] no basis. That’s what the radio people are. They just can’t cross that line because a lot of their investors don’t want to,” Spechouse described.
Voicing his opinion from the crowd, DJ Mykael V brought up his track, “Check Your Heart,” featuring nobigdyl., 1k Phew, and comedian John Crist. Nothing with the track from a production or genre viewpoint is different. But because the Caucasian John Crist rapped on the track, radio stations wanted to pick it.
Derek Minor backed up Mykael’s example with another. Minor had a Billboard chart-topping Christian Contemporary Music track in 2016 with “Change the World” featuring Hollyn for five weeks. There was no rapping on the track. Even stations like Air1 didn’t pick up the track.
“This is chess guys. You have signed up to play chess,” Minor said.
Even though stations are against Christian Rap, Horton sees the good in these situations.
“Christian Hip-Hop has never relied on or had the support of Christian radio ever, and [Minor] had a CCM record for five weeks without radio. So it’s all good because we don’t need them anyway.” *Derek Minor later added that 10 out of 100 radio stations carried that song. Chad also said, his comment excludes NGen Radio, who have always supported*
So what does Christian Rap need to grow without outside support? Well, it needs a lot. Horton condensed it down to the genre needing more biblical lyrics in music and more people working on the business side of music.
“I’m all about where we’re at right now, as long as there’s a balance,” Horton said. “I love super theology Hip-Hop and I love Hip-Hop that you can’t tell the difference between that and something on the street, but there needs to be both. It’s ‘and,’ not one or the other. I think we are leaning too much right now on the side that you can’t tell that its Christian music.”
Horton continued, “We need more people like me that do music business on the industry side because everyone wants to be a rapper… It’s skewed way too much on ‘everybody wants to be a rapper’. People try to intern for [Rapzilla], but low-key they’re just trying to get in because they rap, and it’s like, ‘no, you can’t rap and work for us because there’s an agenda there’. If someone is going to intern for us, I want it to be someone who’s going to do industry stuff, because without the industry people that do business, then you are lacking a major part of the economy of CHH.”
Reflection Music Group is an example of how essential music business people are to a thriving team.
“I went to school for music business, but I don’t handle that myself because it’s just too much,” Minor explained. “So I had to go get guys like Mike Mack. I got Rapzilla to help me with the online promotion and all this stuff. It’s just too much.”
Minor continued, “A lot of people don’t know my business partner Doc Watson. He produced my first album. He produced like eight records on it. But when we were growing in my career, Doc in this very selfless moment said, ‘I’m more valuable to us doing business then I am producing.’ He’s like, ‘you got this’. So we kind of set up this system. I know I went to school for music business but we’re a team. I funnel all my business through him, he funnels all the creativity through me, and that’s why RMG has been able to grow at the rate it has grown.”
This is just a sliver of what happened at the Elevation Conference. Keep your eyes peeled for more on the conference here on Rapzilla!