Christian rap once struggled to be taken seriously, now it's mainstream - KP 100 tops Billboard Christian Albums chart
Christian rapper KB defines Hip Hop as "an expression of what is dearest to you." He told Billboard Magazine that he believes Hip Hop comes from the heart and who he loves - Jesus.
Earlier this month the rapper received awards for his recent EP "100." With the partnership of the YouVersion Bible app and his own self promotion, KB garnered fans that made 100 become a No. 1 hit on Billboard's Christian Albums chart, No. 4 on Rap Albums and No. 22 on the Billboard 200. The EP sold over 14,000 copies the first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
For the religious music market, the success of Christian rap is fairly new. According to SoundScan, last year, sales of Christian/gospel music dropped 15 percent. The category itself is down 31 percent from 2009, when 28.3 million units were sold.
Yet, Reach Records, based in Atlanta and founded in 2004 by Christian rap star Lecrae, is making its way into the mainstream.This year, Reach artists KB and Andy Mineo have placed top titles on the Rap Albums chart. Mineo's "Never Land" EP came in at No. 2 in February. In 2013, three of the 12 debuts by Christian hip-hop artists on the list were Reach albums, including Mineo's "Heroes for Sale," which came in at No. 4 on the Christian Rap chart.
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"We've seen explosive growth in Christian rap in the past decade," Greg Davidson, CFO of Central South Distribution, a distributor based in Nasheville, Tennessee told Billboard Magazine. He shared that there is now a fine line between Christian rap and general rap. "A lot of the artists don't want to be identified as Christian rappers, but rather as rappers with a positive message."
Andy Mineo has said that the "Christian" rap tag is a title they'd like to get rid of. "It minimizes what we do," Mineo told MSNBC's theGrio. "At times, people want to label something that they don't immediately understand."
Mineo's brand of religious rap continues to make a crossover into the mainstream. By late 2013, he was featured on MTV and Sirius XM Radio.