Gospel rap artist DAY seeks to spread the good word with an lyrically insightful mix of praise and promise on his upcoming release Psalms of David.
For the unsaved and backsliding hip hop heathens, there are often ironically negative preconceived notions regarding rap music with a spiritual message. Certainly still a niche market, Christian rap has found no foothold in the mainstream, no standout, crossover superstar to bring light, and industry focus, on the sub-genre. Holy hip hop stays relegated to the far underground, much like “conscious” hip hop has been since the days long ago when Afrocentric artists and hip hop hippies could share the airwaves alongside gangstas and pimps.
Nevertheless, religious hip hop exists, and certainly has its devout followers among the non-secular. Infamous for allegedly frowning on artists with and old-school or an overtly positive vibe, BET even gave a slight nod to the sub-genre during the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards, placing Houston-based LeCrae among participants in the Cipher. It was no pity placement; LeCrae’s Rehab: The Overdose reached number one on the Billboard Gospel charts, proving, if only for a moment, that hip hop can have as much impact on the genre as it has on secular music genres.
Of course, part of the problem is that those who might be interested in listening to music that crosses into sanctified territory would need to seek it out. Mainstream media hardly shines light on religious rap, and generally, independent websites and blogs who claim to cover the full gamut of hip hop, really don’t.
We refuse to be one of those, and it’s been a long-time desire to include members of this musical congregation among our e-pages. As such, we present to our audience DAY, an artist hailing from Danbury, Connecticut who utilizes solid production, positive-but-not-preachy lyrics and energetic delivery to spread the good word through good music.
The songs submitted are from DAY’s upcoming full length project Psalms of David, and do an admirable job of attempting to bridge the ornery river between the two competing factions of hip hop. It should be easy to get hardcore Christian rap fans to accept DAY’s music, it’s well orchestrated, honest and not overly pastoral. Whether it can capture the attention of less committed, but spiritually minded hip hop heads, is the question, and remains the Holy Grail for artists who minister the gospel through hip hop music.
“He’s Jesus Christ” preaches to the proverbial choir, with production reminiscent of a Dr. Dre/Eminem combination, reminding listeners the belief that “Nobody comes to the Father except through Me (He is the way, and He’s Jesus Christ).”[audio:jesus.mp3]
“Born Again” is more along the lines of standard gospel fare, a love song dedicated to God, complete with a soft-spoken track and heartfelt, albeit overly-autotuned, vocals.[audio:bornagain.mp3]
“Bring ‘Em Out” is an energetic display of testimony, clearly demonstrating DAY’s emphatic and unabashed love for his craft and his God over an upbeat track with a somersaulting lyrical flow.[audio:bringout.mp3]
“Y U Hatin'” is a pointed attack on backstabbers, fairweather friends and ungodly types in DAY’s life. Of the four tracks we sampled, it was the one that sounded the least like a “Christian rap” song, perhaps because it was more of a narrative than the other selections. It wasn’t the most engaging tale, and the track, while fitting, wasn’t particularly inspiring, but lyrically, musically and emotionally, this type of song is where DAY, and other religious artists, have the best chance of drawing in casual listeners, rather than the straight praise-and-worship-styled songs.[audio:hatin.mp3]
Overall, DAY delivers a solid performance, sincere in his desire to deliver the word of Christ through music by sharing his perspective in an easily understandable and generally listenable manner. Like many upcoming artists, secular or otherwise, there are many factors that will increase the chance to “break out,” but for religious-oriented artists like DAY, extra care should be taken to craft a package that will be inviting to those who are not already familiar with him, or previously open to this style of hip hop. In the same way a church aims to increase attendance through a strong musical program and an enticing orator at the helm, DAY should continue building and improving on his foundation. Based upon what we have heard so far, he’s on the right(eous) path.
Psalms of David is expected to be released later in July.
For more info: www.daytheuntouchable.com