During the first week of our site re-launch , I posted an article entitled “10 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every Christian Rapper.” It has been our most popular article on our site ever since. Given that there are more than 10 things I’d like to share with my brothers and sisters who rap for Christ, I thought I’d do a follow up.
As with the initial article, this is not coming from someone who has it all figured out. I’m just trying to share lessons I’ve learned while in CHH as well as the secular arena in hopes that they will help someone.
So without further ado, here’s 10 more things I wish I could tell every Christian Rapper.
1. Building the Right Team Around You is Crucial
No successful person does it alone. Kanye West frequently partners with other producers. Jay-Z has a business manager, John Meneilly that negotiates many of his business deals. John Piper has a staff of 24 people to help him run Desiring God. Lebron James needed Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to get a ring. Jesus, even though he didn’t need them, while He walked the earth, still rolled out with 12 disciples. Everyone needs help including you.
If you’re not sure where to start, download this free guide. It’s a 30-page presentation from the workshop I taught entitled “How to Build the Right Creative Team” during this year’s Legacy Conference.
2. Learn the History of the Genre
Lecrae wasn’t the first Christian Rapper on BET (Cross Movement was there 10 years ago and I’m not proof positive THEY were the first). Reach Records wasn’t the first label to sell a bunch of records (Grapetree, Gotee, and Cross Movement did numbers too). People have been doing this for 25-plus years. You can’t know where you’re headed unless you know where we’ve been.
3. Networking is Imperative
How much you know matters. But in many cases, who you know can open the door. Alex Faith is signed to Collision Records in part because Sho Baraka told Adam Thompson about his music, passion and work ethic.
How did Alex get to know Sho? Sho recorded his mixtape Barakaology at Alex’s studio. Yes, Alex has talent, but he also needed a connection to get him his oppurtunity.
When you are at concerts, conferences and outreaches, make it a point to meet one or two new people within the industry and try to stay in touch with them. Help them if they need it and hopefully, they will return the favor to you if you need it.
4. Serve at your Church
When the disciples came to Jesus and asked him how to be great, He told them to serve (Mark 10:35-45). Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve. You should model that too.
Serving at church helps your local body grow as well as aid you in building a track record. A strong recommendation from your Pastor, Elder or Church leader can go a long way in helping you build credibility with other ministries, artists and record labels. Not to mention, you’ll also develop a servants heart in the process.
5. DJs are your Best Friend
I’m biased, but I’ve also seen the impact that my brothers in the One Accord DJ Alliance and Table Turners can have for artists. I’ve seen guys like DJ Official and DJ Morph expose artists to thousands of people by putting them on their albums. The blogs and magazine sites are important too. But don’t forget the DJ. We’re the tastemakers in the youth groups, conferences, outreaches and concerts. I’ve seen artists get booked at churches because the DJ played that artists music every week during youth group meetings.
6. Send the DJ’s Your Instrumentals and Acapellas
Speaking of the DJ, I know its extra work to bounce two more versions of your songs. But, we give your record longer life via mash-ups and remixes.
Need an example?
I mashed Tedashii’s “Houston We Have a Problem” with Jay-Z and Kanye’s Paris beat. On Rapzilla.com alone, the song was stream over 10,000 times. And that doesn’t count streams and downloads on other sites like DaSouth.com or spins on my own show.
Many people thought it was a new Tedashii song. Yet, that song was 6 years old. A whole new group of people were exposed to T-Dot’s song, yet all he had to do was ask his engineer to bounce an acapella version of the song. Some things really are that simple.
7. You Will Fail Without a Strong Devotional and Prayer Life
None of us have all of the answers. But we do what we do in part to inform others about The Man who does. Therefore, its crucial that you are always aligned with Him when it comes to making decisions. There’s no better way to do this than through daily prayer and devotion. Hearing directly from God consistenly will clarify your mission and purpose as well as give you great understanding about The Man you are telling others about.
8. Learn to take Criticism
People who dislike your music are not always haters. In fact most of them aren’t. They just don’t like your music. And that’s fine. Learn to not only tolerate, but also embrace constructive feedback. Use it as motivation. Use it as a means of improving. Use it as a benchmark. Iron sharpens iron. You can’t get better if you don’t know what to improve on.
9. Study to Show Thy Self Approved
That scripture (II Timothy 2:15) doesn’t just have apply to your walk with the Lord. It should also apply to your music ministry or music career (whichever nominclature you prefer). Yes, the music industry is a business. Yes, there are people who will take advantage of you. Yes, you will need to make money. Are you prepared to ensure that you excel at these things?
Read books, blogs and articles on the rules of engagement. A great place to start is The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop (Affiliate Link). This is one of the best books I’ve read in the last 5 years.
10. You Don’t Have to be at Every Event in your City or Region
I love being out. I love networking. I love enjoying Christian Hip Hop, Urban Gospel and R&P artists perform live. But I love hanging out with my family more. I’ll remember family time a lot more in 20 years, than I will being at a Da T.R.U.T.H. concert. If its the other way around, my family may not be around in 20 years.
Set aside time just for them. Don’t fill every weekend with shows and concerts and give them the left overs. Make them a priority and enjoy their company. Sure you can incorporate them into the business side, but I bet they’d enjoy BBQing at the park more than they would working at your merch table.
- What thing would you like to share with every Christian Rapper?
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