Rap & Religion

For as long as I can remember, hip hop has had an obsession with God and religion. I don’t mean to suggest that all rappers are religious devotees. But few rappers – or any artists for that matter – can shake the urge to include God somewhere in their art. It’s natural and good for us to speak about God, but the question is, what are we saying? Some will say, “It’s just music. Don’t take it so seriously!” But what a rapper says on the mic is more serious than you may think.

Some have used hip hop to express their sincere religious belief or lack thereof. Islam, The Five Percenters, Christianity, Agnosticism, Atheism, and other religions have all been promoted through the art form. I think hip hop is uniquely suited to express loyalty and devotion to anything we’re passionate about. Partly because of the culture’s compelling rawness and partly because hip hop allows for more words, thus you can actually “teach.

But most of the time hip hop is more like a barbershop than a Sunday School class. Rappers recklessly run off at the mouth, whether they know what they’re talking about or not.

Sincerity vs. Recklessness

There are some whose rhymes reflect a sincere – though sometimes misguided – search for and struggle with truth. I respect that. One thinks of The Roots’ “Dear God 2.0,or Kendrick Lamar’s “Dying of Thirst”.” *Even when I disagree with their assumptions or conclusions, I enjoy listening to sincere wanderings. And it often moves me to pray for my fellow emcees.

Hip hop has always had a darker side though, where artists treat God and religion with disrespect and irreverence. Rappers seem to say whatever words feel right in the moment – whether they actually believe them or not. And in a “post-Christiannation like ours, these reckless assaults are usually aimed at Jesus and His church.

当然, there are some things – like hypocrisy and money hungry “preachers– that deserve to be mocked. But sadly, the Bible, the church, and God Himself are often treated like insignificant characters in a fiction story. I admit, hearing rappers talk about “freakygirls in the church choir makes me cringe, but nothing grieves me more than mocking Jesus Himself.

Many rappers have called themselves God, put themselves on a level with Jesus, and have boastfully taken the Lord’s name in vain. They’ve built whole albums around irreverent religious themes. They’ve used their God-given creativity to insult their Creator. How ironic.

As a follower of Jesus, I am personally offended by what I hear, but more than that I’m afraid for the ones who spew these blasphemous words. We would all be afraid for a man who’d spit in the face of the President, but we should be even more afraid for a man who spits in the face of Almighty God.

Responding With Grace

So how should I respond? I could begin a campaign to boycott their music. Or, as a rapper myself, I could write a scathing diss record for the ages. I’ll let you decide whether either of those approaches are right or wrong. But honestly, I don’t think they would do much to address the real problem.

The music these rappers release is a reflection of their hearts. Our words are always a perfect picture of what’s going on inside of us. Have you ever tripped while holding a glass of water or juice? Whatever you have in the glass spills out onto the ground. As we all know, our clumsiness doesn’t produce the liquid, it just shows us what’s in the glass. It’s the same thing with our words. When we speak, or rap, the content of our hearts is spilling out. Speech and music doesn’t make us sinful, but it does expose what’s in our hearts and minds (Matthew 12:34).

In light of that, listening to some of the rappers who take up religious themes tells me two things.

First, they don’t understand who Jesus is. If they did, they would never speak of Him this way. 当然, they know Jesus was a Jewish man who was crucified two thousand years ago. But, they don’t truly understand Him.

No man or woman in their right mind would try to put themselves on a level with the absolute Ruler if they truly understood Him to be such. Nobody would disrespect Him by associating Him with lewd sexual acts or violence if they understood that He was the eternal Judge of their souls. They wouldn’t toss his name around like He’s a nobody and treat His name with such levity and disrespect.

When you’ve truly seen Jesus, you understand that He’s incomparable. When you truly know the King, you submit to His authority, you don’t challenge it. So the only conclusion I can draw is that they haven’t seen Him for who He is.

Second, we need the people who do know Jesus to speak up. Not just in songs and blog posts, but at the dinner table, in the boardroom, and in the classroom. Why? Because this ignorance and irreverence isn’t unique to rappers. Reckless art is just one expression of it. We live in a culture blinded to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Opening Blind Eyes

So if you know Jesus, tell your friends and family the truth. God is not to be toyed with. He’s to be worshipped, loved, obeyed, and enjoyed. He’s real. He hates sin and sent His Son to do away with it. In fact, His Son died and took the punishment for sin so we wouldn’t have to. And God raised Him from the grave so that we could live with Him forever.

Pass this Good News on to others! But please, do so with grace. Stop yelling at people, and start loving them. If you’ve seen Jesus for who He is, it’s not because you’re better than anybody. It’s because God opened your blind eyes. Pray He would do the same for your friends and family.

And if you don’t know Jesus, you should get to know Him. He’s indescribably good, and more than worthy of our devotion. There’s not a single one of us that can afford to ignore God or treat His Son like just another dude. Our eternity hinges on what we believe about Jesus. And the truth is, whether we believe in Him or not, we will be judged by Him.

So what’s God to a nonbeliever you ask? Creator, Sustainer, and Judge. And if we’ll turn and believe – Savior.

*Disclaimer: I’m not recommending that you listen to the songs mentioned above. One of them contains foul language that won’t be appropriate or helpful for many.

SHARES

19 comments

  1. AbeReply

    We would all be afraid for a man who’d spit in the face of the
    President, but we should be even more afraid for a man who spits in the face of Almighty God.” – That sentence is very powerful!

    Thank you for this article Trip! I really enjoy Christian Hip Hop because I always felt that lyrically it had much more content and teaching than normal CCM praise music.

    Ironically, I have never liked secular Hip Hop because of the constant repeating lyrical content of sex, drugs, self exalting, etc. That has been true even before I became Christian.

    In fact, I grew up listening to punk rock and was always a rocker. When I found Christian Hip Hop, I loved it! My friends were dumbfounded that I was listening to Hip Hop since I had always disliked it, at least secular Hip Hop.

    Keep on doing your great work and I shall too my brother! For the Glory of God and our beloved Saviour Jesus! :D

    • CherishJesusLuvReply

      Hey Trip,
      I agree that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, so naturally the words to songs are going to be about whats going on in a person.
      I would also like to add that many Country singers as well talk about Jesus as some one they would drink with? Ummm yeah right if they saw him they would become humble and would not think much about drinking. Or would try to hide from his presence.
      I would like to share on here and with you that I have been called to speak to people about His Love. His Spirit told me that He would speak threw me to people. I am not perfect and I do try to stay unstained by the world, and am growing like other Christians also.
      I wanted to share with you some of my testimony of Gods goodness in my own life.
      I had always felt like I could feel God watching me even as a youth. I would sing to Him and get lost in the day thinking about His love. When I was 15 the Lord literally showered me with His love and Spirit and I received the Holy Spirit that day. My mouth was used by the Spirit to answer questions that was on others in the room hearts. And He spoke to me threw my heart telling me He had come to live in me and would protect me and would speak threw me when the time was right. I remember when I was in 9th grade and these people came with trash cans full of condoms to our school. Robert E. Lee in Tyler Tx. They showed us many pictures and the deceases that sex would bring. They told us to fill free to fill up small brown trash bags of condoms and take them if we needed them. They were telling us that we could go to the nurses office and get some also if we did not want to take them right then. When they said,”Sex is the best filling that you will ever fill.I stood up in-front of the whole 9th grade class and these people and proclaimed. “No God’s Holy Spirit is the best thing you and I will ever fill.They had police escort me to the office until after they had finished there spill. I remember a few students stood along with me and said she is right. This was the beginning of my journey.
      Later on in Life I was at an apartment where there was drinking and card games. I remember I felt like I needed to flee this place this feeling overwhelmed me in my heart. I noticed a man on a karaoke machine started to say my name and spoke things about me that I did not know how he could know. I watched him and noticed I could see horns coming out from his head I asked my friend if she could see what was happening also, she replied no, but that she felt uneasy about us being there. I knew I was seeing a spiritual thing happening then. I saw more things razor sharp teeth and and claws, and at that point I ran to the door to get out. The man on the karaoke machine called out to a women to close the door on me and not let me leave, she was not able to and he hurried to the door and stood in-front of the door closing me inside. I was in complete shock at what happened next. I saw the ugliest demon possible come half way out of this man as if to devour me right there, and at that moment a beautiful white covering came down over my entire body and in an instant the demon flew from this mans body. The man could not stand and slid down the door into a sitting position and I saw tears run down his face. I was then able to open the door even with this man sitting in-front as easy as if he were not sitting there, and began to run as fast as I could out of this apartment complex.
      I at this point I felt as if I needed to ride my self from all the people in my life that would even consider to put me into a room with people that were demon possessed. And so I fought my way away from gangs and bad influences. I did not really give my whole life to God at this point and would like to add I am still in training in this area also. But for God to protect me in this way even though I was young and in need of so much mercy and grace, still baffles my mind to this day. His love is Amazing. I have only encountered one other demonic spirit to which I could spiritually see. I was driving down the hwy 155 and I noticed a car plate that saidVampireon it, as I passed the car I looked at the driver and saw a demon right there in the mans body. I speed up to get on down the road away from this one.
      Another example of God’s Protection in my life. When I was younger some time after I received the Holy Spirit I was riding in the back end of a pick up truck in Louisiana and it was me and three cousins all very young in the back and three cousins in the front. I felt the Spirit move me to sing He has the whole world in his hands, And I stood up and raised my hands to God. At that moment as my cousins in the back are looking at me like why is she singing that, my cousin who was driving was passing a truck to our right and we are in a curve and a truck was in the lane ahead coming straight on. My cousin who was driving said, “Dear God what have I done.and my other cousin in front said, “My God.and I was just lifting my hands to God and singing. I saw a beautiful rain-bowed hand slash cloud come down in an instant and remove the truck that was to head on collide with us. I remember seeing the truck behind us on down the road as if nothing had happened. When we got back to my aunts home my cousins said, “We would all be dead if not had Cherish been in the truck.they asked me what I was doing back there and I said singing hes got the whole world in his hands. My cousins and I are still in Awe of God for his protection of all of us that day. I told them it was notmebutGodwho had protected us.
      This is just a couple of the many times God has protected me, showed mercy to me and kept me from harm.
      With all that said I hope this encourages someone out there, and Loving Jesus is not just aboutseeingsomething happen for we know Scripture says Blessed is the man who has not seen and yet still believes. And that is only a part of that scripture fyi. Anyways I wanted to share this and say I Love Jesus, I believe and testify to his protection,mercy, and Love. I want everyone to know our King has a wedding feast He is preparing for His beloved. We as His Church are his beloved and He wants you and me and anyone reading this to prepare themselves for His appearing, and to repent from there sins and follow Him. I Love your music Trip. It has blessed my life and others around me. I pray that you will continue to Put Matt 6:33 into practice and live a life testifying to our Kings goodness. I am so thankful for good beats with God loving words that I and my young family can enjoy as we wait upon Him. Cherish :) I AM UNASHAMED!

      Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

  2. CLEAN MIMSHACHReply

    Talk about this rapper . He had aJesus walksvision in the Hip-hop industry as you have but what happened? “failedif you so to speak. What went wrong?…These are the questions you need to find answers to.

    Sitting back and analyzing What’s happening to Jesusimagewont change a thing. As a matter of fact that CANT alter JesusJESUS!!.

    He was crucified by some bunch of cheap Romans soldiers and that even led to the prove that He Jesus is God after He Resurrecting.

    Go get a record deal from YMCMB and Preach the Truth in a raw manner, and see whether you will survive as a rapper.say what the world wants to hearbusinesssmh

    They are so use to the world and it systems: Getting money, fornicating, etc.. to the extend that even if Jesus manifest Himself physically to them today, they will unconsciously slip back into there old ways later.

    You can easy destroy a tree at it nursing stage but not when it has fully established as a Timber.and the only way to get rid of a Timber completely is by destroying it root.

    So do what you ought to do to destroy the root of the problem as asavedbeing. Tell the world what they’ve not heard before.. A material proof of JesusExistence, Power and Glorynew light

  3. Nicholas J. GauslingReply

    Some friends of mine recently commented that the best way to recognize falsehood is by learning to recognize truth; I think that wisdom applies here. One could go about creating a campaign against this godless music, but even better is to keep producing God-centered music.

    I’m not much of a rap fan myself, but I am tremendously grateful that there are individuals such as yourself who are serving as a sort of indigenous missionary and reaching into that culture with the love of Christ.

  4. CLEAN MIMSHACHReply

    OK. it is time forChristian rappersto mock their (world) god(satan). its as simple as that.

    If you think our Jesus is being disrespected/mocked then you rappers are in the best position to also render their satan powerless by insulting/disrespecting satan the hard way twice.

    • CeceReply

      Yes! Thanks for sharing Dr. Utley! I heard you speak at North Park University last fall and was impacted by this connection.

  5. Terence AbrahamReply

    Wow Will…..I do appreciate how powerful and subtly you used words to put through your thoughts [shows whats in your glass :) ]…I wanted to voice similar opinions, you really brought clarity into this topic using good examples.

    Thanks again,
    Terence.A

  6. MoNsTroSityReply

    there be gods MANY and lords MANY. (1Co8:5) aHaYah asher aHaYAH, TELL the CHILDREN of YISRAEL I AM HATH sent you. (Ex.3:14) & moreover the El of Avraham, Yitschak, n Yaacov (Ex.3:15).. YmmanuwEL, YesHaYAH HaMashiyach.

    PRAY & read your Bible intensely and the Holy One of YisraEl WIL reveal the answers from OUR Father which ART in heavenSalvation the Saviour is comin back for His ppl… “The TWELVE Tribes of YisraEL” & those that BELIEVE the WORD of aHaYAH.. search for YeshaSalvation as a HIDDEN treasureBless aHaYAHHe Who IS, He Who WAS, & He Who IS to COME. (Rev1:4) even so come, YesHaYAH. Amen.

  7. EmpressReply

    this is really a great message
    inspired me to write something today, don’t let some negative people or comments sway you from speaking the truth. I know that there are some out there that might try to get on your nerves. I am here to say Keep it up you are making a difference

  8. MsBReply

    When I was if the world, I was a heavy hip hop enthusiast because of the artistic creativity and mainly because of content. Listeners gravitate to words that appeal to the heart. So, in essence, as long as there are darkened hearts, there will be those that gravitate to the message. This article just serves notice on us who believe becausewe are made to light it up a city on a hilltopand we want people to ‘hit us up when they feel lostSO that we can navigate them tithe savior. You’ve outlined our sole mission in this article- thanx! P.S. LOVE THE CUP ANALOGY!!!! AWESOME. God bless

  9. Mention: Rebel Rapper Trip Lee Talks About Rap & Religion - YES FM

  10. UnveilDa1Reply

    I love the thought process of Mr. Lee, I’ve been a follower of Trip from the jump, When he asked the questionSo how should I respond? I could begin a campaign to boycott their music. Or, as a rapper myself, I could write a scathing diss record for the ages. I’ll let you decide whether either of those approaches are right or wrong.I think a response with a diss record is very appropriate, I see it as an opportunity to do exactly what David did to Goliath. He had the chance to shut the mouths of the one who was speaking against his GOD. Now with the influence and the amazing GOD giving talent Trip has, I see it as a golden opportunity to Infiltrate the Industry.