In his hit song Jesus Walks, Kanye West belts, “They say you can rap about anything except Jesus.” But not everyone takes West words as the Gospel truth. Trip Lee is part of a new slew of rappers who don’t shy away from God-talk in their songs.
“If you listen to my music, it is going to be clear that I do love God, and I talk about God in my music,” Lee told BET. “You might hear the name of Jesus in my music because I love Jesus.”
Lee just released a new hip-hop album, “Rise,” which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Christian chart and #16 on the Billboard 200, and he authored a similarly titled book with an unambiguously religious subtitle: “Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story.” Since he his first album released in 2006, Lee’s brand of what you might call “hip-hop with a higher calling” has brought him much success.
While Lee’s fans are doubtlessly familiar with the way he blends religion and rap, Lee shies away from the label “Christian rapper.” This places Lee within a larger trend of misfit rappers, including Flame, Tedashii, and the Grammy-winning Lecrae, who are making music in a genre that isn’t exactly known for faith-friendly themes and of which Christians have traditionally been wary. But somehow they are finding a warm reception among predominately white, politically conservative evangelical Christians.
Lee is acutely aware of the paradoxical nature of his career, especially the racial divide that separates him from many of his fans. He says he is encouraged by his white brothers and sisters who are working to learn and listen on race matters, and he is praying for the rest. But this positive posture doesn’t resolve the friction he feels.