It's a great time to be into Christian hip-hop. The scene has exploded over the last decade or so, with pockets of creativity taking place in just about every metropolitan area in the United States. While the big names--Lecrae, NF, Andy Mineo--really just about all the Reach Records posse--get the majority of the awards, recognition and bookings, and deservedly so, there's a much bigger world of hip-hop out there.
The following are five independent rappers you need to get to know.
1. Eric Heron
He's a 2017 graduate from Georgetown University, and just went back home to Texas to pursue music full-time. Eric Heron was quite the athlete as part of the Georgetown Hoyas baseball team. Since 2015, Heron has released four EPs, a full-length project, and numerous singles. Also, he's been featured on numerous tracks with CHH heavyweights. Heron has quite the range of talents as some of his singles include themes of Star Wars ("Obi-Wan"), Christmas ("Mistletoe") and iconic highways ("I-10"). He puts out music regularly and remains connected in the CHH community.
2. Jay Sanon Jay Sanon has a trifecta of skills: rapper, producer, and songwriter. He's a Miami-based artist reaching all ends of the world with his music. He released his first single a year ago last March titled, "Numbers." Over the course of the year, Sanon has released several hard-hitting singles and amassed over 200,000 Soundcloud listens. On the brink of his first full-length release, he's definitely one to watch.
For Nerva, music is not only a medium to spread the gospel, but a personal passion. Therefore, Nerva fine-tunes all aspects of music ministry before passing along finished products to the masses. He writes, produces and performs regularly. He's a minister, student, and devout family man. He takes the gift of music he's been blessed with and immerses himself within. Over the last two years, he's released an EP along with a handful of impactful singles glorifying the name of Jesus. A full-length debut shouldn't be delayed too much longer.
4. Phil J.
An Alabama native, Phil J. has been surrounded by musical influences since childhood. Until the mid-2000s, he was content in his role as a drummer for various artists. After being introduced to the likes of Lecrae and Andy Mineo, he developed a passion to become a rapper. His first mixtape, The Sponsor, was released in 2012. However, it wasn't until recently that he gained momentum in the
genre with the release of his 2017 EP, Nu Age Soul. Fast forward a year, he's released a full-length project, a collection of singles, and has been featured with everybody from Lawren, Joe Ayinde, Dee Black, and Eric Heron. Phil J. possess an infectious sound of mixture between melody and rap that differs from the genre's norm. He's indeed part of the next wave of artists to watch.
A Texan rapper digging into his seventh year within the genre, Craig "5ive" James continues to gain momentum after his fifth release this year. James has been saved from a history of drug use while he builds on the victory found in Christ beginning with Potiphar's House. Potiphar's House is a grassroots record label James started currently with a handful of artists. James uses his storied past as a strong and effective testimony shared with anybody who shall lend an ear. Me Against the World: Vol. 2 made a statement that James is focused on sharing the Gospel for years to come.
Joshua Galla is a "yinzer" now residing on the eastern side of PA who loves Jesus, being a dad and devout husband and all things hip-hop. Joshua is a youth worker passionate about our younger generation, concerned about being a light for the Kingdom in all he does.
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