It’s a known fact that most artists in the Christian Hip Hop community have a full or part-time job to supplement their income. They work hard to support their families and during their “downtime” they are working on their music.

Right now CHH is a small but growing genre in comparison to secular or mainstream hip hop. People tend to think that because an artist may hit some top spots on the iTunes Charts that they are raking in the dough. What “fans” most often forget is what it takes to make that album a success.

There are a lot of people involved when making an album. You have the artist, graphic designer, producers, engineers, and countless others who assist in marketing or other tasks needed. All these people require time and money to continue to do the work that they do.

So I asked myself, what would it take for CHH artists to make a stable income from music alone? How would the fans benefit? How would the genre benefit? How many more people could we save?

Stop “blessing” others with music.

One of the things I noticed about the Christian community is that we use the term “blessing” when we want something for free. It is a term I’ve come to realize that people use to mask their conviction of ultimately hijacking that $10 album. By doing this, you as a fan are saying you care nothing about the artist’s well being and want to steal the music for your entertainment. I understand sharing a copy with an unbeliever but if you bought the album and your believing friends are asking you to “bless” them, they just want to use you and the artist for their entertainment.

Stop complaining about Christian Hip Hop being corny when you are the one causing detriment to the genre.

It’s been quite the controversy when CHH artists try to separate themselves from the “Christian” label. The reason why CHH doesn’t sound like mainstream hip hop in quality is because CHH simply does not have the funding to work with that talent group. To work with some of the top producers in the industry artists or labels could potentially have to shell out $25,000-$100,000 per song. Do you want to help CHH sound less “corny?” Pay for the music they work hard to produce. You’ll be helping them financially, CHH, and others to discover Christian Hip Hop for the first time.

If more CHH artists were able to work full time on their craft and music you’d notice a significant difference in quality, substance, art form, and frequency. Sometimes we go through a significant drought as I like to call it during certain periods of the year. During that timeframe, whether it be a month or three months it seems that no music is going out. Since most of these artists are balancing music into their hectic schedules, fans can go for an extended period of time without hearing new music.

I’ve been following Christian Hip Hop for quite a few years now and to describe how far it has come would be a task that would probably overwhelm you. Since CHH has grown, I’ve also noticed more blogs giving studio albums for free and also fans trying to piggy back off people who purchased. I do understand not everyone has the income to buy every single album they desire, but I also don’t go out buying every shoe I desire either. There are limits set for our lifestyle for a reason. If you can’t afford it and your next move is to ask someone to “bless” you, then you need to get your priorities straight. God put those limits on your life for a reason. Stealing music so you can be entertained is not the answer.

Let’s all do our part to lift these artists up for the time and effort they put in. They want to edify you, they want you to break your car windows to the beat, and they value you as a fan. The best way you can help contribute to CHH’s success is to actually be a part of it.

Have something to add? Leave a comment below.

41 Responses

  1. davisabsolute

    Truer words couldn’t be spoken. We are creating a culture that isn’t sustainable… We need to start cultivating growth and sowing into their ministry. Money isn’t the end game but it has to be a part of the equation at some point. Don’t “bless” people who have fat pockets! LOL

  2. John Langston

    Upcoming artists in other genres/sub-genres face the same issues. The message to fans should always be support your favorite artists. Whether that be financially thru purchasing music, tickets, merchandise, etc. Or by sharing and promoting them. As far as CHH needing more money – I think it just needs more time. It’s starting to gain traction, and I believe inevitably will be where it should be.

  3. mbethune

    Great article, rooted & grounded in the scripture:
    1 Timothy 5:18 (NIV)

    18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[] and “The worker deserves his wages. Support the artists, don’t take food off of their tables by highjacking their work! 

    Mike B (Dad/Mgr of The KENJEX)

  4. Donald Smith Jr.

    Yes, to stay relevant. One of the worst things that could’ve happened to Christian hip-hop was the fall of Gotee records doing hip-hop, Uprok records going down and Cross Movement records becoming an afterthought. If those three labels were still strong (along with 116, Humble Beast, and others) Christian hip-hop would be in a much stronger position.

  5. rodneyrjyoung

    I think a powerful solution is for CHH artists to think outside the box on how to engage their fans and develop exclusive content and unique experiences for their fans that have accompanying revenue streams.  There are many people listening to CHH now, but the revenue models are not optimal.  Even in mainstream, people are not making most of their bread and butter from record sales.  With the wisdom of God, we can do even greater!

  6. CST_313

    this is an excellent article. Very needed during this time. Most fans don’t buy the music and There are reasons why. According to Itunes the average person spends $5/ month on music. For new artists the challenge is getting people to listen to the music first.

  7. rodneyrjyoung

    NickChow rodneyrjyoung No problem – thanks for bringing up a very relevant topic!

  8. IanBrown3

    how would you recommend starting off as an independent Christian hip hop artist. I’ve noticed in the Christian community we’re less willing to help our fellow man. Christian’s that know how to start off with beats, etc; won’t help me get the hang of things since I lack knowledge on how to produce, yet people who aren’t saved are willing to hook me up. it’s all about investment. if no one will help me, I feel I won’t be able to accomplish what I want to do. are there schools or online courses that teach you how to use pro tools?

  9. davisabsolute

    IanBrown3 Much love and blessings. Here is what I will say… It’s not that people are less and less willing to help, but YOU have to be willing to STRUGGLE as an artist. I am relatively established and I still have to debate with producers about giving me beats and getting work from them. It’s a process. Also if you’re asking if there are online courses that will teach you programs it indicates to me that you haven’t diligently looked. When I first started out I spent hours upon hours figuring out how to record my own stuff, make it sound good, and then re-invested back into my craft with equipment and software. SACRIFICE brother. That’s what separates the notable from the hobbyist.

  10. TonyMerkel

    davisabsolute IanBrown3 I recently wrote a short blog on the “struggle” as an artist. I think it pertains to what you mentioned for sure.

  11. TonyMerkel

    NickChow obeyurmasta1 It takes money to make any ministry go. For example, look at church plants. As the churches finances grow only then are they able to start looking into moving into their own permanent building instead of renting someone else’s. When a church gets to move into their own building it allows them to be more effective in their communities holding events and outreaches that they may not have been able to host otherwise. This results in more people coming to know their savior, Jesus Christ.

  12. TonyMerkel

    Lecrae is breaking new grounds in CHH and that will have a trickle effect and work its way down to other artists. Its a matter of time.

  13. TonyMerkel

    This is what I was talking to my guys I manage about recently. Good thoughts NickChow. This topic should become a sub-movement in the CHH culture. The CHH community needs to support the artist the right way. I am pretty sure Christ wasn’t good with stealing as long as it was from another believer. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith.” The support an artist receives should not just be praise on twitter after you listen to the entire album for free on youtube. Wake up and live your life as if calling yourself a Christian actually means something.

  14. JhaquiseShaquillePopulo

    Good article with some topics that really needed to be addressed. I love how you took on the issue of having to get every album we want even if it means through a “Blessing”. We can’t be ruled by our wants. Also, there are loads of free albums and mixtapes out there. We need to address it as it is: piracy and theft.

  15. IanBrown3

    I’m read your blog and I understand that you will face challenges by doing Gods business but why does an artist have to struggle. I’m in the military and I’ve been in 10yrs and we never let anyone fail or its on you as their leader since I’m in a leadership position. We teach people how to do things, let them make mistakes and give them training as needed. That’s what I’m used to. I’m not looking for a hand out but for someone to teach me how to do the basics. The struggle once you learn the basics is inevitable since to make good music it takes lots of time.

  16. TonyMerkel

    IanBrown3 It depends on what you are considering as a struggle. Do you mean with production, money, networking, promoting, connections, etc. I don’t think an artist has to struggle with some of these areas if they build up a proper supporting cast to help carry the load. Its really hard to build something from the ground up without a team of people you can trust. Money might be a struggle for some and thats something that can be hard to get around. However, other things like networking and/or promoting can be a load that is carried by a few people. But even that can be hard for some if you are not surrounded by people that believe in you. That situation may require someone to change the circle they consider as friends. But whatever the struggle is I think it needs to be embraced for what it is in that moment because there is always something to be learned from it that can make you stronger in one way or another. Embracing a struggle isn’t accepting defeat. Its understanding the situation for what it is and moving forward within it.

    And I don’t think you are looking for a hand out at all. You are doing what you are supposed to be doing which is networking. Getting ideas from other people as to how they did it or are doing it. We all can pull from one another. I take on the networking/connecting/promoting burden specifically so my guys can focus on making good music. Thats where the team idea comes in. Everyone has their own strengths and if you can have a group of people that all recognize their strengths and are willing to work within their strengths you can go a very long way to achieving your goals. 

    For example, I used to rap. I was very good at getting shows and promoting myself and all that. The only problem was, I was an awful rapper. It took me days to write one verse and when a song was all said and done it didn’t sound good at all. I am very much a realist and I realized that if I took what I was good at with networking and promoting and put all my efforts into that for artists that were actually good at their craft we MIGHT be able to accomplish something. So thats what I did. I start managing artists and I am more fulfilled doing that than I ever was rapping on stage feeling insecure about my product. God showed me that artist aren’t always great at getting themselves out in the public eye even though they have a great sound. Just like I didn’t have a great sound but I was very good at connecting and networking. Thats where we learn to draw from one another. Its all about your team. Build a solid foundation and then you can build the house. 

    “A rising tide raises all ships.” Thats a quote I constantly repeat to my guys. We are a team and when one succeeds we all succeed. 

    Be encouraged Ian. Its a process. But Gods got it.

  17. TonyMerkel

    IanBrown3 To answer your questions here though….

    Pro Tools is a complicated program but their are tons of YouTube videos to help guide you with different things. Be imaginative with your searches. Example, “How to record in pro tools” How to mix/master in pro tools” “How to set up a recording session for rappers.” Different ideas of the top of my head that might help. Also look into LOTS of good stuff from this guy. Graham knows his stuff and teaches it in language you can understand. He is a christian also which is good to know since you mentioned you are struggling with finding brothers to help. 

    If you want to spend some serious coin to get real deep there is a school called Full Sail University in Orlando FL that is top notch from what I hear. But there probably are much less expensive schools/classes you can find at a local community college I am sure.

  18. ellabellathe1

    Let me start out by saying that most all  artists work who believe in their vision work extremely diligently in the creation of their music which IS/ should be their job. Just starting out, yes, you’ll need to have income coming in if you support yourself and/or support a family BUT I believe that PRAYER, PRAYING OVER our brothers and sisters in the work they do in Jesus name is the absolute greatest investment we can make in each music ministry, being essentially the feet of one to spread the gospel which is what Jesus instructed each of us to do ……  to continue His work until His return. 
    Secondly, we are all on the same mission I would hope…. which is, as worshipers we use the gifts God gave us to reach every nation. A common platform, unity and oneness, supporting each other in marketing, advertising, engineering, graphic design and so on. If we took the wisdom GOD GIVES EACH OF US AND PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, WE WOULD TAKE OVER ANY OTHER GENRE CORNY, SECULAR OR CHRISTIAN. 
    God spoke to me years ago and told me ” You dont need money in my Kingdom”….. I remember saying your going to have to explain that one to me Lord because if Im not mistaken…. I have rent to pay, kids to feed and never have enough money….. 3 years later He gave me a vision and reminded me of our conversation, saying you NEED to invest what Ive given you for your task in life…. YOUR TIME, YOUR TALENTS AND YOUR TREASURES. YOUR TREASURES ARE  YOUR HEART. Ill do the rest. 

    We must remember that our FATHER IS THE OWNER OF ALL silver and gold.. while we are obedient I can guarantee you that God does and will distribute His Wealth for the purpose of His Glory as well as His Son saving all people covering all four corners of HIS WORLD. That is the reason we exist even. 
    I believe if we ALL take His Word as it is …… there is nothing we cant do. Are we willing to share our platforms, share our time and gifts and love and support one another investing of our time into His Kingdom on the same mission ? Are we ready to open doors that have always been closed, not treating brothers and sisters like fans but as family. I support ANYONE who is doing kingdom work, thats the great commission. 
    Money has NEVER  been a problem and there is plenty of it but THE BLESSING IS IN OUR OBEDIENCE. Renewing of minds, selfish ambition tossed aside, walls and doors broken down with RADICAL FAITH is what there is not enough of in all due respect. 
    I believe we are in motion right now to see these things start to happen….. I believe God is calling us all to a higher level TOGETHER. 

    Again, this is how I feel, it dosnt make me right or wrong and I mean no disrespect, hopefully I encouraged someone and hope to work alongside all of you very soon. 

    Elle Hamatani

  19. Minmin21

    I believe if we ALL take His Word as it is …… there is nothing we cant do. Are we willing to share our platforms, share our time and gifts and love and support one another investing of our time into His Kingdom on the same mission ? Are we ready to open doors that have always been closed, not treating brothers and sisters like fans but as family. I support ANYONE who is doing kingdom work, thats the great commission. |

  20. jogosdofriv42

    “Let’s all do our part to lift these artists up for the time and effort they put in. They want to edify you, they want you to break your car windows to the beat, and they value you as a fan. The best way you can help contribute to CHH’s success is to actually be a part of it.” great |

  21. Anticipate

    Exactly!!!!  You can start by checking out my Christian Hip Hop album on iTunes. Preview it first and if you like it then cop it family.

  22. Jesse-Christina Lovicott

    less (in comparison to mainstream rap) will keep the music a ministry. Even worldly or godless rap is watered down to produce excess. Godly hip hop would lose its flavor if it was as large as its godless counterpart. my opinion. It would be amazing for those talented musicians and lyricists to aren’t widely known to do their thing in less than big cities. The large venues make it hard for regular folks to get that wow experience.

  23. Dan Oren

    More for sure. Nothing is wrong with money, and these artists put so much time in and dedication. I hope for a day where more CHH artists can do full time what they love and use their gifting without having to do jobs on the side.

  24. John Blanco Bear Ruso

    I’m blessed to have a full time job that supports me and my family so sufficiently I can give beats to artists at extremely affordable prices if not free.


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