More and more people are enjoying Christian rap, with its albums having reached the upper heights of the mainstream charts and some of the biggest names in hip-hop discussing religious themes in their lyrics. One of the most exciting new talents from the Christian hip-hop movement is New Jersey Heights rapper Chud’e. The rapper released his first album, Chilltown at the end of 2019 and has now seen it achieve half a million streams in less than half a year.
A swift ascent
Chilltown features a string of collaborations and plays host to singles including Day and Night and its title track. Chud’e has received support and exposure from many influential media outlets. His music includes elements of pop, hip-hop, gospel and R&B. Despite his incredible rapping skills, he only discovered Christian hip-hop a few years ago after he returned to the US after living in Nigeria for part of his teenage years.
Overcoming life’s challenges
It was during his time in Nigeria that Chud’e reconnected with his estranged father, who was now a pastor after being a small-time criminal some years ago. His father left the family home when he was ten, which meant Chud’e lacked a positive male role model in his life. Other challenges faced by the rapper during his teenage years included the loss of several friends, failing at sixth grade and losing contact with his only sibling, his half-brother. During his time in Nigeria – where both of his parents originally hail from – he began a new relationship with Jesus whilst finding out more about his heritage.
The themes of Chilltown
In Chilltown, the rapper speaks about his relationship with God during various seasons of his life. The album itself is named after the area of Brooklyn that he grew up in. His early single Day and Night includes lyrics not only about how Jesus can be trusted to guide people through life’s “obstacles, difficulties and doubts” but about the way many disapproved of his decision to become a rapper. Despite what many people assume, Christian rap has actually been a force since the 1980s, with the first full-length album having been released by Stephen Wiley in 1985.
Increasing media exposure
Over recent times, Chud’e has collaborated with a range of independent artists. He has received coverage from the Christian music publication CCM as well as the websites CHH Source and chhtsnetwork. An interview with Chud’e was broadcast by Cross Rhythm Radio, and he has also been given support by the CHH YouTube Channel. The artist wants to use his work to “point people to Christ” and has been complimented for his “booming voice” as well as his “clever punchlines”. His music isn’t just designed for Christians – he hopes even non-believers will be able to find at least one track that they can connect with.
Chud’e has been influenced by various Christian rap stars. These include Bizzle and Lecrae, the latter of which went to #1 on the mainstream album charts in 2014. The artist began producing his own music not long after he heard Christian rap for the first time. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the first media outlets to support his work was based not in the US but over in the UK, with internet radio station xRhythms getting behind his music early into his career.
The forthcoming collaborations come after he recorded with the likes of Anodyne Virtue, Echo Guzman and Melanie Williams on Chilltown. When Chud’e is not performing, writing or in the studio, he works as a Youth Development Specialist in New York. An important aim for the rapper is to help others that are now in the position he once found himself in, acting as the positive role model that he lacked a few years ago. He hopes the Lord will point him in the right direction and that he will be enabled to inspire others whether that’s as a musician or in another role.
A prominent force
Christian rap is also known as ‘Christian hip-hop’ and ‘holy hip-hop’. Some of its most well-known performers include Trip Lee, Flame, Soup the Chemist and Shai Linne. A big moment for Christian rap was when Kanye West turned his back on his traditional lyrical themes and released a whole album about his faith. The record itself, Jesus Is King, sent him to the top of the Christian rap charts and give him several hits in the Christian singles chart. Christian rap is also becoming more prominent in the United Kingdom, with an increasing number of performers fusing religious lyrics with grime. The most successful Christian rap performers receive accolades at events like the GMA Dove and Stellar Awards.
You can find Chud’e’s music on streaming platforms like Soundcloud, YouTube and Spotify. He can also be found on social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter