The long-awaited album by Christian rapper Kanye West has arrived.
A seemingly endless saga came to an end when West’s label dropped the highly anticipated ‘Donda’.
West stated via his social media account that the album was released without his permission. Perhaps the label just didn’t want to see Ye set himself on fire again. Instead, looking to set the charts ablaze. Either way, the rollout has been one of the most elaborate in history. Instead of looking into the album’s content, let’s look at another angle. What does Donda mean for other Christian rappers?
Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Rapper Loves Jesus
It has been a whirlwind of change since Kanye embraced the Chrisitan Hip Hop genre. From a Dove award for his previous album ‘Jesus Is King’, divorcing Kim Kardashian, living in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and playing “you first” with an artist in Canada. One thing that is undeniable is how many Christian rappers actually love Kanye, even before he knew who they were. In fact, a recent Gallop poll puts the estimate of Yeezy stans in CHH well above the 50% plateau.
Donda has done nothing short of strengthing that fandom. Some may even say that it is inspiring a new generation of CHH artists.
There seems to be a spiritual revival happening throughout the timelines of CHH Twitter. A space that is often volatile and known for its daily outbursts is being brought together in a similar fashion to Billy Graham crusades of yesteryear. Artists are beginning to understand what it means to be a Christian rapper, many for the first time.
Take Lil’ Baby Jesus for example.
The indie artist has been a “Christian” emcee for nearly a decade but explains how West has opened his eyes to brand new possibilities.
“After listening to Donda, I was just like ‘wow’, you know? I mean, I’m going to make it a point to read the three Gospels that I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I had always assumed that they all basically said the same thing. But hearing what Ye said on the album makes me wonder if there’s some more in there. I guess I’ll find out.”
Newcomer to the CHH genre, Holy Ghost Righter, admitted to FiveTwenty that he sees that there’s a lot of growth still to go:
“When I got saved, I was obsessed with trying to be perfect. You have no idea how relieved I was when I found out about Christian Hip Hop and discovered that I really didn’t need to change that much. Like I could still cuss in my records. I could still smoke a little and chase girls and Jesus would still love me. What Kanye has shown me is that maybe I could go an extra step. I just need to learn how to edit out the curse words before releasing music like he did on Donda!”
Donda Is Even Bringing Artists Home
Veteran artists, some who have even left the genre, can’t escape Donda’s impact.
Rumors are swirling that Thomas Iannucci, who wrapped up his CHH career last year, is having second thoughts. Perhaps living up to his ‘Doubting Thomas’ album title.
Increasing belief is that, not only will Iannucci return to CHH now that West has made it an acceptable place for real artists, but he may include another return of sorts when he does. Whispers of donning the Illtalian moniker that first established him as a legitimate artist are popping up in Telegram chats like wildfire. While Iannucci was unwilling to comment on these rumors, he did offer some clarification:
“My sister Dondi recently released new music. I was attempting to be a good brother and help run her numbers up. In today’s economy, a McDouble is like 5,000 streams, so we have to look out for our own. Anyway, instead of Dondi, I ended up on Donda. Sure I could have fixed my search, but I’m not a Spotify premium user. The risk of listening to a random ad outweighed the reward. So I stuck with Donda. I can safely say that I’m glad I did. I’m sure my sister will understand.”
These are certainly unprecedented days for the CHH community.
Even media outlets are busy trying to make sense of it all. I spoke with Jay from the That’s Not Christian Podcast to get his take on the shift happening before our eyes. While he understandably wanted to limit his theorizing, he did go on the record saying:
“Jesus is King and Kanye is a prince! We must protect him at all costs. While I think it’s great that other Christian rappers are trying to follow Ye’s lead they have to understand that they will never get the same support, no matter how much ‘influence’ they take from this record. Not everyone can pull off being so boldly unashamed.”
What’s Next For Kanye?
While no one really knows what is on the horizon, there are a few logical dominos that will surely fall.
Another Dove award is a given.
Speculation is that more secular artists are ready to join Ye in his take over of the Christian music industry across the board. Take Da Baby and Marilyn Manson who joined West at his Chicago listening extravaganza. Why would they stand on the porch of a prop-house if it wasn’t the kickoff of their own project rollouts? The only question being are we going to have two individual albums or are we in store for a genre crossover collaboration? Regardless, Christian music fans await with open arms.