Category Archives: Christian hip hop

He was a monster. Now he spits for Jesus

KBKB used to be a monster.

Kevin Elijah Burgess dallied with drugs, gangs, fighting, trouble-making and women on St. Petersburg, Florida’s infamous south side.

“It felt very unsafe regularly. Ambulances were as normal as the birds chirping. Living with gunshots,” says Burgess, now 29. “Behind closed doors like many inner city kids, I was struggling. I was struggling with my identity as a man. I looked to dudes to affirm me that I shouldn’t have been looking to in the first place. What it meant to be successful, what it meant to be strong were defined to me by people around me, by T.V., and it left me in a very desperate, dark place.”

While inner city temptations beckoned him, Burgess was also academically adept. School was easy for him, and he was invited to participate in a pre-college program in high school. But the lack of a father undoubtedly contributed to conflicts in his soul, which led him to the verge of getting kicked out of the collegiate program.

That’s when he met a Christian who introduced him to Christian rap. At the time, KB didn’t know much about Christianity, but he thought he knew that God was opposed to rap. The singer on the CD had dreadlocks like Burgess.

kevin burgess“I’ve walked with the Lord ever since I got that CD,” Burgess says. He got his college degree, began rapping and caught the eye of the godfather of Christian hip hop, Lecrae, who quickly signed the talented artist for Reach Records in 2010.

Today, Burgess gets played on the secular stations and his videos are shown at the gym alongside the likes of Kendrick Lamar. He’s part of the movement bringing “Christian rap” out of the corner and into the mainstream with hard-hitting lyrics expressing raw pain and original musical arrangements.

“People are going to say, ‘These guys are killing it.’” he told Guideposts. “I’m not the Christian Kanye West. We’re our own artists and when we come into the industry, we have to deal with (being dismissed as copies of secular rappers). We have something to say, we have a style of music that isn’t just reproducing.”

His third album, Today We Rebel, released in October 2017 hit #1 on Christian album sales. It followed Tomorrow We Live from 2015 which hit #18 in overall sales in America. His track “100” snagged the Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year in 2014 and was a major crossover success.

His latest album features the song “Monster” which doesn’t mince words:

“Boy, I used to be a monster
I was tweakin’, had my mama goin’ bonkers
Yeah, you probably wouldn’t believe it
If it hadn’t been for Jesus
I’d be still runnin’ around like I’m a gangster”

Continue reading KB Christian rapper.

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Converted rapper Ja Rule, tripped up at Fyre Festival, seems to have gone prodigal

ja-ruleWhat has happened to Ja Rule?

The early 2000s hip-hop sensation famously became saved after a stint in prison for tax evasion and illegal possession of a firearm. Specifically, he accepted Christ at New York’s Hillsong church after filming the Christian movie, I’m in Love with a Christian Girl.

But now Ja Rule has become embroiled in the Fyre Festival fiasco. After promoting a bacchanal hedondom to well-heeled millennials, he’s being sued for failing to deliver the lavish hotel, food, rock stars and hotties. Partiers found themselves stranded in refugee camp tents with cheese sandwiches on the Bahamas Island. The stunning models were noticeably absent.

Has the New York rapper become a prodigal?

Famous for “Always on Time” and “Mesmerize,” Ja Rule — born Jeffrey Atkins – had songs ranked in the Top 20 from 1999 to 2005. He received Grammy nominations, notoriety and tons of money, but police busted him for tax evasion. Released from prison in 2013, he picked up a role in the movie I’m In Love with a Church Girl. As he promoted the movie in churches, God began to draw his heart.

Luxury accommodations at Fyre Festival?

His prior involvement in Jehovah’s Witnesses marred his understanding of God. His mother left the group in his pre-teens, and the rest of the family completely ostracized her.

“The family wasn’t speaking to my mother, and I saw how much it hurt her, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the religion,” he said.

But his aversion towards God changed due to his involvement in the movie.

“I kind of reconnected with God by doing the movie,” Ja Rule told a radio station. “I reconnected with God in a different way. I was going to all these different churches, and they were great, but I didn’t feel like they were talking to me until I went to Hillsong right here in the city.”

Hillsong projected a non-traditional image that he found appealing.

“You walk into this church and it’s dark in there and the disco ball is still in there and you see the lights and you’re like, well this is different, and then you get in there and you start to look at everybody around you, and they look just like you,” he said. “It really gave me the feeling that when they say come as you are, they mean the skater kids in the back with the skateboards, like they just came off the street coming to church. It was a different type of crowd.”

In response to one of the sermons, he and his wife, Aisha, were both saved.

His first steps in the Lord were tentative, but he didn’t shy away from discussing them.

“I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want people to misconstrue what I’m doing here,” Ja Rule said. “I’m taking baby steps, and I want to get closer to God. I feel it’s something you should do in life.”

But then he was quiet about his faith for a number of years.

Earlier this year, Ja Rule joined brash entrepreneur Billy McFarland in hyping an elitist rock competition on beautiful beaches that was supposed to rival or surpass Coachella.

Ja Rule promised purchasers of $1,200 event ticket they would be “living like movie stars, partying like rock stars, and f—–g like porn stars.”

Hmmm. That doesn’t sound very Christian. Read the rest of Ja Rule Christian.

Hip Hop artist Andy Mineo won’t be pigeon-holed

andymineoAt 12, Syracuse native Andy Mineo accepted Jesus at a Bible camp and experienced a love in his heart for people he previously hated. But without male role models and a Christian support network, he drifted away from God in high school and joined a secular rap group known as Fat Camp.

In his freshman year at City College of New York, Mineo met Grammy-award-winning music producer Alex Medina in a music class. Medina introduced him to hip hop artists who were Christians, and the idea that he could combine his talent for lyrics with love for God excited him.

andy-mineoMineo renewed his relationship with Jesus, got involved with Intervarsity campus ministries, and gave up secular recording.

“I remember walking in one Saturday to the rehearsals they would have and seeing a whole bunch of people my age, urban, inner city, loved hip-hop, loved the arts, and loved Jesus,” Mineo said. “And I thought, ‘This is unreal!’”

Mineo released his first mixtape, Sin is Wack, in 2009. He drew a lot of attention when he sang hook vocals on “Background” for Lecrae’s Rehab album. In 2011, he signed for Christian label Reach Records and joined the Christian hip hop collective 116 Clique (as in Rom. 1:16), famous for being “unashamed of the Gospel.”

He released Heroes for Sale in 2013 and in 2015 Uncomfortable, which cracked Billboard’s top 10.

andy-mineo-and-fianc-christina

“With a mix of thought-provoking lyrics combined with encouragement and a range of beats, Uncomfortable is an ambitious and bold entry into Christian rap and hip hop that convicts, inspires, and encourages,” noted Chris Major of The Christian Beat.

Aside from his musical creativity, the pull of Mineo’s music is his “reflective lyricism, that connects with his fans through shared struggles, self-discovery and raw emotion,” according to Narratively. His sincerity about his own struggles with temptation comes out clearly in his rap “Tug of War.”

“It’s essentially me just sharing my life, sharing my failures, my struggles, my successes, my joy that I have in God,” Mineo told BillyGraham.org. “I hope what I can do through the music I’m making now is point people to this hope that I found.”

Mineo doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a “Christian rapper” because he’ll lose appeal among the secular audiences he’s trying to win to Christ.

“Excellence is the best marketing tool, and I know my music is excellent,” Mineo said. “So if people listen to it and just objectively they can enjoy it and say, ‘Wow, I like this. This is good,’ then they’ll have the opportunity to soak in the content and say, ‘Oh, he has a different perspective.’” Finish the story, which was written by my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.