How Then Shall We Rap? – Ambassador & Tonic speak on the state of CHH

How Should We Then Rap?‘ titles the latest video content released by Vocab Malone a former rap artist, speaker and pastor who deals with urban apologetics through his show Street Apologetics.

This phrase, very reminiscent to the documentary series and book written by Francis Schaeffer’s ‘How Then Shall We Live‘, are the words describing the video of pioneer gospel rap group Cross Movement’s members Ambassador & Tonic discussing the history and missiological methodology of gospel rap.

Vocab Malone centres around The Tonic‘s Christian Research Journal article, “Christian Hip-Hop: A Generation’s Words” and The Ambassador’s 2015 lecture at the Evangelical Theological Society.

“This is a renewed debate…” Vocab Malone states as he urges The Ambassador to recall the beginning of their journey, where Ambassador then recaps on the history citing; Grapetree (Record label), P.I.D, Steven Wiley, SFC, Dynamic Twins, Gospel Gangstaz, D-Boy & Tunnel Rats (who turned 20 years this year: 2013) amongst many others. Here are some selections CHH from that era.

Vocab Malone leads the conversation through the reasons and heart behind The Tonic’s writings and the current state of Christian Hip Hop in view of but not primarily controversies around the direction of Lecrae over the last few years, being the most prominent name and the interests of CRI (Christian Research Institute) readership being affected by growing influence of CHH in wider culture outside of itself niche.

“…Hip hop is global, I think hip hop sets the heart beat for the world in a lot of ways. I would say there’s a need to bring in the incarnate Christ…” – The Tonic.

The Tonics asks ‘What is Christian Hip Hop?’ as they discuss the purpose and margins for an artist to be called a Christian Rapper. They discuss the variants in the artforms & how can it be accommodated while still holding to biblical truths and ingesting that into the culture.

“…Lets help people, you are discouraging people who would do it this way from doing it this way. Now they are hearing its wack. Now they are hearing it wont sell… People don’t do it for that reason, but they start to do it that way once they are conditioned to do it for that reason. Going to grow in freedom and help us to emphasise you are free. Do it the way you are inclined to do it.” – The Ambassador.

This discussion is currently a hot topic with many in the UK also having discussions of the same. Gl360 Media pioneer like Roger Moore & Wisdom (formerly of Green Jade) had a discussion on the state of UK CHH ‘A Lack Of Wizdom In UK Urban Gospel‘.

KCmix who have taken the mantle to champion UK Christian Hip Hop also discussed these issues on Kingcast Podcast; ‘Are They Trying To Reach The Lost Or Not

“This is the climate that we came into, with the domination of 5 percentism and Islam, and what you noticed was everybody…(people) shared on what the main thrust of their heart was.’ ‘So when we jumped on it we felt that was so in line, so in step with the commandments to preach the gospel.” – The Tonic

‘Cypha Time’ by The Cross Movement

Veteran Da TRUTH only a few weeks ago spoke about music and artistic differences with Trackstarz citing Andy Mineo.

Christian rap is categorically a sub-genre within the wider hip hop context and as a culture we are bound to express our art differently. This must be understood, and to insist that CHH artists fall into a certain circle is to deny the artist from operating in the spheres they gravitate to. Its also denies the reality of art birthed from life as artist express their hearts and lives, targeting the audiences yet untouched with the hope they hold to relevantly.

In the UK it seems history is repeating itself, as we forget the roots and face the same hurdles those in the 90’s faced with Christian rap for example, its acceptance in churches as discussed by KCmix.

“Who am I, what do you see, where is the real place to be? Should we write to enlighten those unhealthy or infiltrate & dominate your posse, I wonder?…But the acceptance still ain’t there, why do they stare, hoping for the chance to stone me, I will never accept the will of man. ”

‘I Wonder’ by L.P.G (Jurny BIG & Dax)

What are the marks of Identity of Christian Rap or Gospel Rap?

Listen to the interview and let us know your thoughts?

Follow Vocab Malone online via his website and @VocabMalone