As I look back on the year 2017 and the Christian hip-hop scene (CHH), my heart is full. I’ve been given the opportunity to shed light on dope music while serving the kingdom of God, which is a dream come true. When it comes down to it, I’m just a worship pastor in Colorado who loves baseball and hip-hop. Below are some of my thoughts on what was hot in CHH this past year. Take a look!
January – Jered Sanders: Nobody Famous
Social Club dropped their The Misadventures Of Fern and Marty album at the beginning of the year, with “Who Else” and “Love 4 Real” being my go-to tracks from the project. I’ve always enjoyed the lightheartedness Social Club brings to their craft. They don’t take themselves too seriously but show a good balance between fun and pensive/thoughtful/thought provoking. My favorite album from January, however, was Nobody Famous by Jered Sanders. I’m a sucker for Southern Hip-Hop anyway, and his brand of music paired with nostalgic skits and challenging topics sticks out to me as the top album of January. Check out Jered Sanders here.
February – Steven Malcolm: Steven Malcolm
As the weather got even colder here in Colorado, the CHH scene got hotter. Steven Malcolm’s self titled album highlights the month of February. Steven dropped a grip of mixtapes leading up to this debut which garnered quite a few fans, and thankfully he didn’t disappoint us. From the pop influenced “Party in the Hills” to his freestyle-esque tracks “Feel Me” and “What Was You Thinking,” this is a treat to listen to. He switches styles effortlessly throughout, and I really dig his flow. Steven received top notch production from some of the best in the business (Joseph Prielozny, Juice Bangers, and Derek Minor among others), and I felt there wasn’t a beat wasted. I also rocked with the rejuvenated Kj52, who, under the mentorship of Derek Minor came away with a very impressive record in Jonah. Drastic changes to art have potential to leave someone sounding/appearing disingenuous, but I really appreciated the changes Kj made to his style and I found inspiration in the idea you’re never too old to learn something new. (Seriously though, that track “Know About It” bangs.)
Other Mentions: Lee Majors And Regina Chavon– Beautiful Life, Nobigdyl– Canopy
March – GAWVI: We Belong
GAWVI got me ready for spring training and baseball season with his album We Belong. Apparently I wasn’t the only one finding his beats motivating, because I heard his “Rock N Roll” being played over the loudspeakers at Coors Field as Ian Desmond took the batter’s box this summer. There several great moments on this record, including some club EDM hits, as well as some chilled-out contemplative moments, too. If you haven’t heard “GodSpeed,” it’s one of those tracks that motivates you to step your game up.
Other Mentions: JMez & John Brown– Brand New, Shopé- 4 Real, MorethanMoral- FearLess
April – Mogli The Iceburg: Tumultu
The month of April was a solid month of very strong releases, including Parris Chariz, who brought the heat with his album Polaroid. Parris has some R&B jams throughout, sprinkled among some confident flows touching on his struggles with relationships and processing life, all while keeping it Christ centric. I was already familiar with BrvdonP (fka Black Knight) but his collab with Mission, Barely Finished gave me a new appreciation for his work. As a new fan of Mission, I was only familiar with his “West Side” track with Dre Murray from a couple years ago, and had not really paid attention since. Well, I’m awake now. This man has got a flow on him, and I’m excited for what RPSMG will bring to us in the future. An album I keep revisiting due to the depth and candor of the artist is Tumultu by Mogli The Iceburg. Mogli’s concept album dealing with the idea that life is tumultuous for everyone is almost flawlessly weaved throughout 10 tracks. You feel the tumult in the beats and in the transparent storytelling, forcing you to have to deal with what bubbles up in your own life. Check out more Mogli here.
Other Mentions: Lawren– As You Pass, Go EP
May – Eric Heron: Dawn
The first week of May I happened upon Doxamillion’s project Lxfe Lxke and was thoroughly impressed. While this project is only seven tracks, they are all well-conceived club bangers with catchy melodies. As the month went on, we were reintroduced to John Reuben with his release of Reubonic as well as a short film. Jered Sanders showed his “verseatility” with his GOM mixtape release, but it was Eric Heron who snuck up on me this month. Having read about his love of baseball and his passion to encourage athletes through his music, I had no idea what I was getting into when I clicked play on his release of Dawn. With his southern swag, Eric’s percussive flows and pleasantly sung hooks show what a refreshing gift he holds. Check out his video for “Switch It Up.”
Other Mentions: Beleaf Melanin– In Fatherhood, Faith Pettis– King, Tyshan Knight- Audience Of One
June – Kaleb Mitchell: So Help Me God
Let’s cut to the chase, Kaleb Mitchell is a problem. Somebody lock him up. This dude jumps on beats like he’s a ravenous caged lion. “So hard that an amputee could feel it,” my most listened to album of the year is easily his project So Help Me God. With jaw dropping performances, he jumps back and forth effortlessly from gritty and grimy in-your-face flows to smooth, buttery melodies and introspective tunes. “Everybody say they got the wave/but what’s a wave to a freaking typhoon.” Ouch. It hurts me to conceive that someone ousted Propaganda for my top album of June, but KM did just that. Don’t sleep on Prop, though. It’s not unlike Prop to drop knowledge and give his listeners a lot of thoughts to ponder. His Crooked album left me with a lot to chew on and I’m grateful for Propaganda and his art.
Other Mentions Grits– Saints & Sinners EP, Ty Brasel– Young T