Best Artists Mixing Gospel Music And Hip Hop
Used to be that gospel and hip hop were on very opposite sides of a spectrum. Back in the early days, listening to hip hop meant you probably didn’t fuck with gospel too much. Genre is becoming a thing of the past now though. Gospel music is just one component and hip hop another, both can mix
Chance The Rapper
Getting to the obvious one first, Chance is the highest profile artist plugging gospel in his rap. He’s not afraid to show his faith and it’s clear that is why gospel means so much to him. Rather than being something he’s forcing into his music, it’s something he’s really made work for him. He knows how to balance the two and while he can’t really be called a gospel singer, that’s almost as important as his rap.
Unlike Chance who seems intent on balancing the two, Lecrae is more than willing to be seen as a Christian hip hop artist. That has historically been a dirty word and for good reason, a lot of christian hip hop has been pandering attempts to pull in people who usually listen to hip hop. Lecrae is one of the people turning that around. He’s struck a decent balance between hip hop and gospel elements without overpowering one with the other. Despite the balance between them, he’s seen more success in the gospel world than mainstream hip hop so it’s clear where his loyalties lie.
It almost feels like cheating to include Kanye on this list. He’s a versatile enough artist that he pulls elements from everywhere but when he leans into gospel it’s worth mentioning. He doesn’t speak about his faith as much as dudes like Chance the Rapper; it’s hard to talk about god when you act like you’re god, but it is still there. We’ve seen more of it in recent years, especially on ‘The Life Of Pablo’. It’s not really a gospel album but it is a bigger step towards it than we’d seen before.
For a dude whose stated goal is to spread the word of god, he sounds a lot more like Lil Wayne than most christian rappers. His production is generally all hip hop but with the message of God behind it. When he does let in the gospel elements it’s almost a guilty inclusion which is a shame because dude makes it work well. He’s definitely set himself up to subvert his ‘christian hip hop’ moniker which you can’t really blame him for. He doesn’t ignore it completely though and knows when to put the work in.
NF is a weird entry into the gospel hip hop world. His sound verges on the horrorcore and feels like gangsta rap more than anything. Despite going hard, Nate’s message is a religious one and that brings with it a certain amount of gospel. Nate throwing gospel music on a track is an interesting thing. Even when we see gospel on a hip hop song, it’s usually not on something that sounds like gangsta rap.
Triple O mixes some serious Grime with Gospel music. For American hip hop artists, there’s a long history between the two that’s forced them together. In the UK it’s not quite the same so names like Triple O have built their genre from the ground up. Song to song he can be heavy on the Grime or gospel and switches between both often. When he mixes them on a track it’s even more impressive.
Along with fellow Chicago rapper, Chance, No Name is one of the most interesting voices out there. While she’s technically a rapper, her work is a mix of styles with gospel being a very present element. Unlike many other gospel hip hop artists, her work isn’t really concerned with God. Instead it’s just one of the many styles put to great use in her repertoire.
There aren’t many ‘feel good’ hip hop artists who hang around too long. Kirk Franklin is one of the few exceptions to it. He’s been in the game a while now and pulled features with the likes of Kanye West. His own style, however, has always been gospel, upbeat and happy even at its most rap.