Rap is a genre of music defined by its rhythmic lyrics spoken or chanted over a (usually) syncopated and repetitive beat. Christian rap music follows the same musical pattern but with lyrics that tie into the Christian faith. The question of whether or not Christian rap music is appropriate is a matter left up to the individual, but there are still some biblical points to consider.
Rap has a track record of being profane, violent, and sexual. Unfortunately, this reputation is pretty well earned. A good chunk of mainstream pop music is rap or hip-hop, and a good chunk of the accompanying themes have to do with illicit sex and the objectification of men and women. Because of these associations, some people have trouble separating the lyrics they expect to hear from secular rap from the lyrics that are actually being spoken in Christian rap.
If the music reminds us of vulgar things, distracts us from keeping our thoughts pure and focused on God’s goodness (Philippians 4:8), or triggers negative feelings, then Christian rap probably isn’t the best thing for us. Even if the lyrics are clean, music can have a profound effect on our spiritual well-being. With any music genre, not just rap, we should be aware of how it is affecting our hearts (Proverbs 4:23–26) and whether or not the Holy Spirit is telling us not to listen to it in the first place (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Despite rap’s poor reputation, there are a growing number of Christian musicians producing quality rap that is theologically and musically solid and thought-provoking. While Christian rap isn’t for everybody, it offers a more wholesome alternative to fans of the genre who would otherwise be stuck with a steady stream of sordid content. However, it is also important to note that, even if Christian rap has a positive effect for you, it might have a negative effect on someone within earshot. The moment our personal preferences overrule our love for our brother is the moment we’ve sinned (see 1 Corinthians 10).
God can use any type of music to communicate His truth. There are many Christians who have embraced music as their ministry, and they execute this calling through a variety of musical styles. Whether or not Christian rap is the appropriate style for any given person comes down to a matter of personal evaluation and conviction. If there is any question as to whether or not Christian rap would be good or bad for you, recall Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”