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Bob Hayton: ‘Reformed Rap’ begins to pick up steam

Christianity Today recently highlighted Reformed Rap and Hip-Hop. Click here, to see a PDF of an entire page describing the key Reformed artists and this new phenomenon.

Some of the key rappers include: Trip Lee, currently a pastoral intern under Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church; Marcus Gray (Flame), studying for a master’s degree in biblical counseling at Southern Seminary; Curtis Allen (Voice), an assistant pastor in Maryland; Shai Linne; Timothy Brindle; and LeCrae. All of these men are involved in ministry beyond their music, and all are affected deeply by Reformed Theology.

Here are a few excerpts from CT’s write-up.

SPOTLIGHT: Reformed Rap and Hip-Hop

Not since Maranatha! and contemporary praise emerged from Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel in the 1970s has a genre of Christian music become so associated with a specific stream of evangelicalism. And while not all Christian rappers are Reformed, nor do all see themselves as preachers and teachers working in a musical medium, the growing edge of the movement is explicitly taking its cues from Calvinist leaders. Several tracks have included direct references to (and even sermon clips from) John MacArthur, John Piper, C. J. Mahaney, and other pastors, and Curtis “Voice” Allen’s recent rap on the Westminster Catechism (with theologian D. A. Carson) went viral in March—as did his Heidelberg Catechism rap last October.

Is it the sound of Reformed resurgence?

While hip-hop has become a staple of young Reformed conferences, it’s not yet the dominant sound and it rarely appears in Reformed churches, said D. A. Carson. “I doubt that hip-hop with Reformed lyrics will ever become a primarily congregational corporate worship medium. It is a performance medium, and as such it is very useful for communicating with certain groups of people. . . . But that does not make it inappropriate for the more limited goals that it achieves quite strikingly at the moment.”

“The genre allows the rapper to cram loads of biblical and theological content in a single verse. I think we love hearing the Scripture ‘preached’ lyrically. Second, there is a ‘cool factor,’ which has helped bridge generational and cultural divides. But we can’t explain this without acknowledging the sovereign workings of God.” — Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman

“Reformed hip-hop is a theologically driven masculinity movement. It says no to the prom songs to Jesus in CCM, no to whiny emo Christian music for hipsters, and no to empty, shallow, individualistic Christian music lacking theological content produced out of Nashville.” — Anthony Bradley, associate professor of theology and ethics at The King’s College and author of Liberating Black Theology

Many conservative Christians, and fundamentalists in particular, refuse to endorse rap music or hip-hop of any kind. They cannot think of the genre without its cultural associations with a sinful lifestyle. But conservative evangelical leaders see the value in this music and the movement under-girding it. John Piper has interviewed LeCrae personally, and Desiring God has produced a three part video interview of him as well. Desiring God partnered with LeCrae’s Reach Records for a Don’t Waste Your Life tour. Mark Driscoll has interviewed LeCrae too, and Mark Dever interviewed Voice and Shai Linne (see the video here).

I’ve highlighted this musical phenomenon before (here and here), and I encourage you to listen to the music before rejecting it out right. I have a CD by Timothy Brindle entitled Killing Sin, which is basically John Owen’s On the Mortification of Sin translated into a new medium. Shai Linne has a CD called The Atonement which explains in depth the intricacies of limited atonement, substitutionary atonement and more. The music requires a high degree of lyrical intricacy, poetry and a command of language, not to mention an artistic sense. The songs these men are producing are excellent and filled with God honoring lyrics. Check out Reach Records or Lampmode Recordings for audio samples and lyrics.

I pray the Reformed Rap movement will continue to pick up steam and influence the hearts and minds of many people for Christ.

This post was written by Bob Hayton and published on Fundamentally Reformed. Follow Bob on Twitter:@rjhayton.

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