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The Black Church And Hip-Hop

In “No Church In the Wild,” the opening track off “Watch the Throne” from hip-hop mega stars Jay-Z and Kanye West, Jay-Z asks, “I’m wondering if a thug’s prayers reach?”

One of the big questions in the song is, “Will we make it out alive?” And one of the big complaints is, “It’s something that the pastor don’t preach. It’s something that a teacher don’t teach.”

In his new book, Emmett G. Price argues that the black church and hip-hop culture represent two ends of a growing generational divide within the black community. And it’s a divide he describes as “extreme, volatile, destructive… and wider than ever.”

Yet Price argues hip-hop and the black church are essentially fighting for the same thing — or at least should be: a sense of meaning, community and connection to one another. According to Price, just as the black church sustained the civil rights generation, it needs to reach out to the hip-hop generation and build a dialogue. He says that’s the only way the black community can move forward together.

In Price’s introduction, he writes, “If the Black Church were more vigilant toward the needs, concerns, and desires of its…young people during the late 1960s and early 1970s, there probably would be no Hip Hop culture.”

So what happened back then? How did the black church lose its connection to the current hip-hop generation?


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  • tjackson79

    This article completely leaves out the hip hop movement occuring WITHIN the church. There are now major christian rappers who in my opinion are heads and shoulders above their secular peers.  Artist like Lecrae, Tedashii, Knine, IROCC, Tripp Lee, and many many more. The church and hip hop have already embraced each other. The church should not be trying to get in bed with secular rappers as these are two different messages entirely.

    • Guest

      I think it’s more representative of people moving away from the church, and organized religion, in general.
      You seemed biased. to say they are heads and shoulders above their peers. Some are better than others on both sides, but in no way are they better than all “secular” rappers.I haven’t heard much of these artists, but I can listen too, gopsel, for example, and appreciate the musicality and not tune into the religious message (which I personally don’t agree with). I understand that’s your opinion, but, you seem to be missing the point. They shouldn’t be getting in bed with secular rappers? Right there is the problem. You are alienating the kids who listen to “secular” rappers. That’s the whole point; the church isn’t as accepting as it makes itself out to be. I know that from the ‘religious” people in my family and community- many are very judgemental and try to tell you that if you don’t know Jesus you’re doome. Man no one is trying to  hear that!
      I am a true hip hop head, and I personally don’t

      • tjackson79

        If you read my statement carefully you will see I preface my statement with, “in my opinion” which I am entitled to have. My comment isn’t judgemental at all, I simply pointed out the fact that the church has already embraced hip hop through Christian rappers which isn’t mentioned in the article. My message is not to alienatae kids who listen to rap, but rather just direct them to better and more wholesome rap music that reflective of the values that Christ espoused through CHRISTIAN rap. How can anyone think the rap songs and artists out today reflect anything that the church should promote? If you were a true hip hop head like you say, you would know that the hip hop today has long left it’s roots of speaking for the people and has turned into a vain glorification of everything we should stay away from as Christians. If you can’t understand that message there is simply nothing left to say.

        • BEEZ

          I specifically said “I know it’s your opinion…”
          You seem hostile…
          It’s stating the obivous to say you’re entitiled to it, and in fact, if you’re posting it on a chat board and don’t want it to be potentially challenged, then perhaps you shouldn’t post.
          You are alienating them by saying don’t listen to that garbage, listen to these christian rappers, they’re better. Never mind what you’re life is like, what you listen to and identify with…
          I am hiphop, and I love it enough to know the difference between the mainstream popular culture music, and the true artists of my beloved artform. Maybe you used to listen and gave up on it, but I haven’t, and there are many great artists left.
          That’s fine if you want to listen to that, but not everyone does, so why are you drawing a line in the sand? Again, you are alienating the very people you (the church) are seeking to build a relationship with.
          Is Christian rap speaking for the people ? I’m not Christian- so do I not belong? There is that whole ALIENTATION concept popping up again…seem atypical in MY experiences with people who are so religious.
          There’s nothing you did or could say that I don”t overstand.
          Open YOUR mind my friend

          • tjackson79

            There is nothing hostile about my comment at all. It is quite the opposite. You seem offended that I am a Christian commited to living my life for God and glorifying him through everything including my music. The bible says if you are lukewarm he will spit you out, so we as Christians are charged with not compromising our values and that is something I take seriously. The bible also say, “to be in this world, but not of it”, and that we are ,”set apart, a holy priesthood.” We are commissioned to live our lives differently. I am grateful for Christian hip hop because I love music and I get to not only enjoy a good beat, but I can praise God and not have to listen to songs that degrade me at the same time. You are absolutely right – we as Christians HAVE to draw a line in the sand. If you put your light under a bushel, how will anyone see it? We are not alientating youth, we are setting an EXAMPLE for them, letting them know that you can enjoy your music and culture and not have to shoot anybody, get high, or degrade yourself for love. If you listened to christian rap you would know that the artists come from the streets and the lyrics are directed towards youths in the streets telling powerful testimonies of how they have changed their lives for the better. I am not going to reply anymore, I am not here to argue but rather to simply enlighten. Best of luck in your journey of self-discovery, and as my boy Lecrae would say, “GOD IS ENOUGH” (great song by the way). :)

  • http://twitter.com/chrisblackusa chris a. black

    hiphop is larger then the black church,,,hip hop elevates over all the boundries set up by man,,,race,class,,religion,,language,,,its art is universal–graffiti,,is style is in every country,,,,its a culture that the youth of all religions partake in,christian,buddist,muslim and so other beliefs,,,but its essence is from the black children of slaves given to the world,,,we gave gospel a boost and brought more youth back to the church with kirk franklin,,,,please dont group hiphop with competition of the black church,,,hiphop is a church,,a universal church that has the soul of the youth that the church wishes it had,,,

    • Bcr4d1

      you are ignorant

      • http://twitter.com/chrisblackusa chris a. black

        far from it,,,prove your point,,,im living my belief and im seeing the fruits of it around the world,,,the good and the bad,,,but,,my culture has christian,muslim,buddist and all others involved,,,you are invisible to the world,,,,

  • http://twitter.com/ThisIsRandR Rhymes and Reasons

    If you like hip-hop, you might like my blog, Rhymes and Reasons. It’s a series of interviews with hip-hop heads who discuss their lives and a few songs that matter to them. Pretty powerful stuff. Check’em out here:


  • Jackson Jabari

    There’s no black church or white church, there’s only Christ’s Church. 

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