With the decade coming to a close, it is clear that a new generation of Christian rap artists has arisen to carve out a home in the subgenre. These creatives, with the favor of God and endurance, are bound to make incredible moves for the kingdom. In an attempt to honor their efforts, we have compiled a list of ten individuals who represent the future of the space. Nonetheless, there are undoubtedly incredible artists who were not included in this selection, which we hope will create healthy conversations amongst the community. For this particular list, the qualifications are as follows:
- Each artist must have at least 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify as of this writing
- Each artist must be under 25 years old
Recent releases: NOT BY CHANCE
The 2019 winner of the Dove award for Best New Artist, Aaron Cole clearly has a bright future within Christian hip-hop. The Gotee Records artist is only 20-years-old, and has appeared on tracks alongside nobigdyl., 1K Phew, Derek Minor, and TobyMac, to name a few. His most recent project, NOT BY CHANCE, was met with acclaim amongst his peers and fans alike. Cole also performed at the Rapzilla Light Work event in Atlanta (photos here).
Recent releases: Bedroom Lofi., Nights and Days
One of the most unique artists within all of faith-based music, Montell Fish’s lo-fi sound stands out against the often trap-centric tones found in Christian rap. Music is not Fish’s sole passion, as he also sells merchandise through the Lord’s Child brand, and has amassed a following on YouTube with nearly 50 thousand subscribers. With this platform, Fish shares musical snippets, short stories, and testimonials detailing pieces of his faith journey. Whether on tour with Isla Vista Worship, sharing vulnerable content on YouTube, or collaborating with the likes of Aaron Cole, Andy Mineo, and Big Yae, Montell Fish is a multifaceted creative with infinite potential.
Recent releases: What’s Understood (1 & 2), BIRDS
One of the fastest rising stars in Christian hip-hop, 1K Phew blends flow patterns all his own with a boisterous appreciation for his Atlanta home. Phew seems to be one of the most sought after and well-respected artists within Christian hip-hop teaming up with some of the biggest names in the space from indie tribe. members nobigdyl. and WHATUPRG, Reach Records labelmates KB and Lecrae, and World45 founder Parris Chariz. Phew gives back to his community often, maintains a presence on YouTube alongside his wife Jas, and continuously shares support for the 1KFamo collective.
Recent releases: BIRDS, RAUL
A Christian rap heavyweight in the making, WHATUPRG has proven his versatility through thematic projects like Pleasant Hill and RAUL, high-energy records like the 1K Phew collaboration, “Drip Lee,” and even a celebratory Christmas track, “What a Time.” Born of Mexican immigrants, RG’s story was marked by tragedy at a young age. Still, the young creative has defied the odds, using his past to define a new artistic identity. Recently finishing his first headlining tour and with plenty of new projects on the way, RG is poised to continue asserting himself as a household name in 2020.
Recent releases: Destined for Greatness
Ty Brasel has created such a wealth of content over the years, it feels as if he is a veteran of Christian hip-hop in his own right. His 18 track epic, Destined For Greatness, remains a standout of 2018. Brasel has also collaborated with two of the other featured artists on this list in 2019, 1K Phew and WHATUPRG, on two popular records off Phew’s What’s Understood projects. Brasel was also featured for the first time on one of Christian music’s most significant festival runs in 2019, Winter Jam, living up to his Destined For Greatness title.
Recent releases: Hopeful Soul, “Strangers,” “Lonely”
The first entry from Reflection Music Group on this list, Byron Juane’s music is particularly resonant because of its R&B characteristics. Juane’s most recent music has an element of romance, never seeming perverted by outside influences, but remaining grounded in a divine admiration of sorts. While there is certainly a place for the anthems and testimonies that have become synonymous with Christian hip-hop, Juane’s dedication to creating bounce-worthy content is refreshing.
Recent releases: No Limits, “BAND$,” “IN LUV,” “Blessed Up”
The first female signee to Reach Records, Wande’s legacy is already indisputable. With every release since her signing, the young Nigerian artist has continued to remind listeners how she earned her place on the roster. Wande has united her passions for dance and music to create as she calls them, “holy bops.” While she is yet to release a full LP, Wande has indicated several times that such a project is in the works over various Instagram live sessions.
Recent releases: Olympus, “Switches”
A member of the 2019 Rapzilla freshman class, Jon Keith was quoted as saying he planned to “[k]eep dropping singles, music videos, and hopefully multiple albums,” in 2019, and did not disappoint. While the only album he released was this past summer’s Olympus, the project has proven to be a personal favorite for plenty of Christian hip-hop fans this year. As for the singles and music videos, most of Keith’s releases were tied into the release of Olympus such as singles “Who Cares” and “David,” and the music video for his collaborative effort with nobigdyl. “Bag.” Additionally, Keith was featured on Reach Records’ Summer’19 playlist, which brought together an array of Christian hip-hop’s best for a musical blockbuster.
DJ Mykael V
Recent releases: “No Strings,” “Switches,” “Doing the Most,” “Better Dayz”
Whether it be on or off the stage, DJ Mykael V’s love for Christian hip-hop and desire to see the movement grow is clear. On his God Always playlist, Mykael compiles a series of Christian hip-hop’s best weekly releases with the mindset of, “[f]or [t]he [c]ulture. [f]rom [t]he [c]ulture.” A true hip-hop purist, Mykael brings a special personality to each track he appears on but is most notable for his dedication to Christian hip-hop as a whole rather than accomplishments solely his own.
Recent releases: Hulvey (Vol. 1 & 2), “Motions,” “Wasted Times”
A relative newcomer to the Christian rap scene, Hulvey has made incredible waves with this year of releases. Scoring placements on both the Reach Records Summer’19 playlist and digital deluxe edition of The Gift: A Christmas Compilation, Hulvey’s impact is already being felt across the space. While some fans have clamored for a major label to sign the young artist, it remains to be seen where Hulvey’s journey will take him, but one can safely assume he will continue to build his personal brand in 2020.