Spoken word poetry is a unique artform that has been undergoing something of a resurgence in recent years, with slam poetry readings gaining popularity in coffee shops and even churches across the country. The trajectory of many faith-based spoken word artists has eventually led them to collide with Christian music, especially Christian hip-hop. Here are a few of our favorite spoken word poets who also dabble in musical artistry.
Perhaps the most obvious inclusion in this category is Propaganda. This Humble Beast poet and hip-hop legend cut his teeth in the Christian hip-hop forerunner group Tunnel Rats. It's been around a decade since he struck out on his own, with the albums Art Ambidextrous (in partnership with Odd Thomas), Excellent, The Crimson Cord and 2017's Crooked each gaining momentum and popularity with their creative musical vibe and piercing, social justice oriented poetry. Propaganda's lyricism has won him features on countless albums with everyone from Lecrae to Lacey Sturm to Audrey Assad.
Jackie Hill Perry
Another Humble Beast artist who seems to have unstoppable momentum, Jackie Hill Perry just released her sophomore album, Crescendo. Her spoken word background has been forged into a hip-hop sound that prevents deep gospel truths with rhythm and power. That same spoken word training plays into her speaking as well, where she uses words as a powerful tool for unpacking timeless truths in new ways.
Levi the Poet Levi the Poet's work first made its way into recorded form with Werewolves in 2009. Since that time he has released three more albums in addition to an assortment of EPs and singles. His work has reflected a fluid and personal process of faith, depression and growing up-- a process that has led him into creating increasingly musical soundscapes bordering on hip-hop. He has also played a significant role in the Christian metal community, most notably with a piercing collaboration with To Speak of Wolves in 2012. His most recent project is Cataracts.
Egypt Ali, better known as Egypt Speaks, began touring as an instrumentalist. Later in her teen years, she discovered a love for spoken word poetry. That love often brings her on stage with fellow spoken word experts like Propaganda, but there's a musical end to what she does as well: Egypt is an accomplished touring guitarist. Her live show features a strong musical component as well. Her most recent album Cathedrals released earlier this year, and you can get a taste of her performance style in the video below.
Micah Bournes Micah Bournes' spoken word poetry and hip-hop is akin to Propaganda with its focus on the more difficult aspects of spirituality and social challenges-- and in fact, the two have frequently collaborated. Micah's fusion of hip-hop and spoken word take him across the country, where he often speaks as well. His most recent release A Time Like This dropped in January.
Associate Editor Mary Nikkel’s love for writing, photography, videography and rock and roll have all been bound together by her love for Jesus, leading to her role with NRT. Her favorite things include theology and Greek language studies, obscure Nashville coffee shops, all things related to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and pushing the boundaries enacted by societal norms. She blogs at Threads of Stars.
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