Christian Rap Pioneers Stephen Wiley & Michael Peace Settle ‘Who Came 1st?’
A few weeks ago at the Mic Drop movie premiere and concert, all of the Christian rap pioneers sat together for a Q&A. Two of the first CHH emcees were Stephen Wiley and Michael Peace were present. This prompted a very important question:
“Some people say Michael Peace was the first, some say that Stephen Wiley was the first. Well, you’re both right next to each other, so who did it first?”
“For the record just so everybody knows, before I even stepped into the Christian music industry, I was listening to ‘Bible Break’ by Stephen Wiley,” said Peace.
Even before Wiley was a man named MC Sweet or McSweet who dropped a song called “The Gospel Beat: Jesus Christ” in 1982.
Peace said about 10 years ago, McSweet got his number and they spoke on the phone.
“He sent me the vinyl of his stuff,” said the O.G. “I don’t know, it’s unfortunate that when it comes to industry things both secular and otherwise, whoever is heard the first is known as the first.”
He continued, “So I think in the case of McSweet, I think he was the first in terms of, ‘Ok, he did it’, but no one really heard of him.”
Peace then mentioned the play Godspell from the late 60s and early 70s where there’s a scene of them rapping. So is that the first Christian rap? It’s hard to say.
The rapper then points to Wiley and says, “you’re looking at him [the first]” as he points to Wiley. “No disrespect to McSweet, he’s a great brother…in terms of documented who we are as a genre, it’s Stephen Wiley.”
Wiley then thanked Peace and threw out another name, Franky Hooker. He said Hooker had a song out two years before himself that was locally distributed in the Washington D.C. area.
“I met with him and talked with him and compared dates and his recording was actually two years before mine came out in the early 80s. So Franky Hooker, I want to put his name out there and give him some props because he was an inspiration to me.”
Franky Hooker upon research rapped with the New Testament Youth Troop. The only song that could be found is “Gospel Rappin’.”