I love rap music, I don’t know what else I’m more passionate about. It’s the most listened to genre of music today, has given birth to some of the biggest artists worldwide and without a doubt influences everything from sports, politics and everything in between. With that being said, as time goes on Hip Hop’s Relationship with God becomes more apparent.
Over the years I’ve noticed a strong parallel between hip hop and God. There’s always been a strong connection between the artform and the cultures belief in a divine power. At some points it feels like the rapper is the preacher on a mission to spread Gods word and the audience/fans are the congregation.
One of the best things about hip hop is that it’s an artform allowing artists to express how they feel, and we have countless amount of times rappers have used music to speak on relationship with God. Take Kanye west for example, one of the most famous intros to a rap song is on the track can’t tell me nothing.
I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven
When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace
I told God I’d be back in a second
Man it’s so hard not to act reckless
One of my favourite intros ever. Point Blank Period!
Again, using the music to speak on temptation here on earth.
We could take it a step further and use DMX’s Damien trilogy series as another example. Here we see clearly see X speaking to what appears to be the devil, tempting DMX for his soul in exchange for money, fame and notoriety. DMX has also made it a conscious effort to include a prayer on all albums to provide the balance and contrast between speaking to God through prayer and the devil.
As I typed this out it is using both Kanye and DMX as my first examples, it just occurred to me Kanye invited DMX to his Sunday services recently which sees DMX starting the service with a prayer. For those of you that have been living under a rock, the Sunday service is a weekly service that focuses heavily on soulful music and gospel inspired music. Check out the video below
So let’s take a look into some of Hip Hops Godly Moment
1. Kendrick Lamar – GOD
Kendrick’s track God sees the rapper express joy from the success he has attained in his rap career and compares this feeling to God. What’s also interesting about the track is that in the 2nd verse he reminds himself he is only a man part of Gods big world therefore quickly humbles himself. This lesson could also apply to other rappers feeling at the top of the game. I feel like Kendrick is trying to show us no matter how successful you are remember God brought you to where you are and it can be taken.
2. Mase starts his own Ministry as a preacher
If you cast your mind back a few years ago Mase left the rap game to actually become a preacher. Now in this article write up I’m speaking mostly on how rappers use music to speak to God or promote Godly message. However Mase on the other head went and literally become a pastor and this might be my most interesting example.
Though Mase was heavily criticized for it at the time, he formed the Mason Betha Ministries which he stated in an interview he regretted, why? He said in an interview he hadn’t given himself any room to grow. “I went from one extreme to another extreme” Meaning from rap to church and then back to rap.
3. Kanye West Sunday Services
Kanye west is an artist who never shyed away from his relationship with God. One of his earliest tracks and arguably one of his biggest songs is the song Jesus walks.
“God show me the way because the Devil tryna break me down” With lyrics such as these very early on into his career you get an idea of how much Kanye west wants to include God in his music.
(Fun fact Jesus walks won him a Grammy award and he shot the video 3 times)
Fast forward 2019 and we see Kanye west organising and orchestrating his famous Sunday service which sees a choir set up singing soulful sounding music with a Godly feel. Most interestingly the Sunday service was performed at Coachella festival. ( VIDEO ABOVE)
4. 2 PAC – Only God can Judge Me
1994 was the year 2pac was shot inside the lobby of a recording studio in New York and he let out all his frustrations, trials and tribulations on the only god can judge me track.
Here we get a glimpse into the mind state 2pac is in as he speaks directly to God to provide him with some direction and hope for the future.
“Oh my Lord, tell me what I’m livin’ for
Everybody’s droppin’, got me knockin’ on Heaven’s door”
5. Drake – God’s Plan
Drake being at the height of his career is sceptical that not everyone is happy for him hence the constant lines throughout the track
“It’s a lot of bad things, That they wishin’ and wishin’ and wishin’ and wishin’ They wishin’ on me”
Drake also being aware of this uses the song to further express gratitude to God.
Also interesting lines such as
“I can’t do this on my own, ayy, no, ayy
Someone watchin’ this shit close, yep, close”
Suggesting God is watching over Drakes every move.
( A billion views later, i’m sure the message reached the masses)
6. J Cole – Want you to fly
The Track starts with the lines “God is real and he usin’ me for a bigger purpose “
Already from the jump J cole is showing relationship with God.
In addition to this J Cole also offers a different perspective on want you to fly, as he believes verses in modern music can help more than reading biblical scriptures in churches.
He goes on to rap
“No disrespect to the Lord and Savior, that ain’t just ego
I just observe that them words no longer relate to people
‘Cause modern times be flooded with dollar signs”
In other words today’s youth are much more interested in money as opposed to the direct word of God therefore J cole is on a mission to enlighten them on what really matters.
( J Cole has not officially released the track as of yet but has hinted on social media to dropping it soon)
7. From Run to Rev Run
Back in the 80s he went by the name Run and formed the classic hip hop group RUN DMC.
Though Rev Run has not produced music with God message of recent, his life purpose and mission today is to spread as much of God’s word as possible. In the hip hop community he has been very successful with this and we all remember him from runs house sending positive messages at the end of every episode in the hot tub.
Just take a look at his Instagram account
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8. Travis Scott – Stop trying to be God
Self-explanatory by the track’s title, Travis is trying to send the message that people, shouldn’t try to be God. We have many examples today of people feeling they have a God Complex making them superior to all people and things. Which Travis is suggesting is a human flaw.
Other notable lyrics
“Fuck the money, never leave your people behind, yeah
It’s never love, no matter what you try
Still can see it comin’ down your eyes
‘Cause they did not create commandments”
Here it’s clear to see Travis referencing of the 10 commandments God passed onto Moses. By the lyrics Travis is saying artists need not compare themselves to being God like if they have not helped there people. Something we see all throughout the bible which is support and love your family always.
9. Outkast – Church
This masterpiece by outkast is blend of southern hip hop music and gospel inspired music. You can’t listen to the track and not feel as if you’re not in a sermon. The track touches on sin being constant in life but seeking God looking for life purpose.
The hook from sleepy brown speaks on something we can all relate too, which is Life being hard!
“Sometimes life can keep you down, with your face all in the dirt
Now if you feel that left behind, need to get up and go to church”
An all-time favourite track of mine, Nas uses the concept of God and heaven watching over our every move as were aware of the sins being committed.
“Would you pray louder, finally believe in His power?
Even if you couldn’t see Him, but you could feel Him
Would you still doubt Him?
How would you start actin’?
Would you try to put the keys down, thinkin’ every drug sale that you make in the streets he can see now?”
Though many hip hop fans may not be aware of it, Hip hop artists have shown time and time again to use music and their influence to spread Gods word/message. Some artists may be conscious of this while some not as much, however there’s no denying how powerful hop hip has become today and I for one do believe music is powerful enough to get the message across.
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