What Should Success Mean to a Christian Rap Artist? [Op-Ed]
Two billion streams on Spotify and Apple Music, a gazillion number of Grammy’s, BET’s, MTV award plaques on your shelf, an overflow of people at your concert and tour shows, and sold-out merchandise within minutes. These heights are the typical criteria that people use to measure success.
The pressure to attain and acquire these things is so insane and rampant that it has become a subconscious thing in many people’s minds that, if you don’t have a lot of streams or haven’t won awards, you are not much of a great and successful artist.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself for sure. It was a subconscious thing in my mind that if an artist didn’t win many awards, then they weren’t so successful. I had that mentality towards Christian Rap artists too. I enjoyed their music so much, but I was always hurt and bothered to see that they didn’t have many followers or win many awards like their mainstream counterparts. I wanted the whole world to recognize, enjoy and celebrate these Christian artists that I loved.
Later on, I realized that might never happen. I mean, this is a Christian genre we are talking about, and even the Bible makes it very clear to us how the world would always not appreciate things affiliated with Christianity.
But this is from the perspective of a fan – like me. I only stated that personal experience to establish my point. Still, this article is meant to address fame and popularity from the lens of a Christian Rap artist. Why did you choose to be a Christian Rap artist? Was it because you just wanted to show people what you’ve got? What does success as a Christian artist mean to you?
You might have had genuine reasons for wanting to venture into a genre like Christian Hip-Hop. Perhaps, you wanted people to hear your story, to tell the world how God saved you from the fiercest furnace or that abyss of pain. Maybe you just wanted to glorify God with the rap talent he has bestowed upon you.
I mean, I think that’s the intention that almost every creative has. We want to share our story. We hope for people to see that we’ve put our heart and soul into a particular project. But what happens when you don’t get that audience, that recognition, or that applause you hoped to get? Does that render you a failure to yourself and in the eyes of God? Are you any less of a successful Christian Creative?
Certainly not. You see this thing called “purpose” you don’t need the whole world to know you before you fulfill it. You don’t have to be famous to become who God has called you to be. Also, purpose isn’t a specific thing. It’s not until you provide solutions to a problem that many generations have dealt with that you have fulfilled your purpose. It’s not until you invent a machine or start a life-changing trend that you’ve completed your assignment on earth.
It’s often said that “the world needs you!” it’s frequently repeated in our churches like a mantra that “You are special! Because you have a God-given purpose to fulfill!” While It’s pretty true that the world needs us, I don’t think we need the world to live a purpose-fulfilled life. Your “world” could be your circle of friends. It could be that small church gathering you attend on Sundays. Your “world” could be your roommates, your teammates, or your classmates.
How are you doing what God has called you to do with those few people? How are you striving daily to make an impact? Is your impact being felt? Do you think your influence in the lives of your “world” is a strongly positive one? If you died today, would your impact last for many years to come?
It’s the quality and not the quantity of your impact that matters. How do you attain a good quality of impact? It’s simply from how you live a daily life of trying to fulfill your purpose for that day. There’s a purpose for each day that we experience. It could be as simple as cheering your sister up or praying for that depressed friend. These little holy things we do day-by-day are what amounts to a life filled with solid impact and fulfilled purpose in the long run.
Let’s use NF as an example. We all love NF, don’t we? But if we are honest, he’s not as popular as several other mainstream rap artists. Still, the impact he has made through his soul-touching, relatable and life-changing music is undeniable. His presence would be felt among fans for a long time — longer than that of any other mainstream rap artist with more followers on Instagram or a higher number of streams on musical platforms.
Hence, as a Christian Rap artist, you can host a concert, and only fifty people will show up. It can be very discouraging for real but trust me, your success as an artist is not dependent on the number of people that come for your shows. For sure, there’s a place for marketing and trying to expand your audience, and it’s a thing of celebration to have more people listen to your music.
Still, you should never forget that glorifying God comes first. God was the reason why you chose to be a Christian Rap artist — above the accolades, the awards, the followers. Keeping in mind that pleasing God is your priority will help you focus on impacting the lives of those fifty people.
It’s natural for us as humans to desire appreciation and attention from time to time. It’s okay that even as Christians, we sometimes want to be known and applauded. Seeking first the kingdom of God will provide that equilibrium you need. Hence, just do your thing and be yourself. Improve on your art and put in the work required. Make the best use of the small number of people who follow and support what you do. Make the “world” that God has given you feel your presence. So whether the awards and the followers come or not, you know you will be fine and won’t feel discouraged — because it won’t matter much.
Success for you as a Christian Rap artist is defined by the quality of the impact you make. Not the numbers.