It’s hard to ignore the Tunnel Rat collective’s impact on Christian hip hop – particularly in today’s climate. Several of the movement’s most visible artists seem to be adopting mindsets and methods that would put them in agreement with this mostly-West Coast camp. And a handful of rappers raised on TR music are now releasing records of their own.
For the uninitiated, the Tunnel Rats was/is a family of individual producers and MCs who found common ground in their faith, philosophies, and love of what many would consider “underground hip hop.” Although they released a handful of albums under the Tunnel Rats name, it’s more of a crew identity than official “group” signed to a record deal. The Wu-Tang Clan and 116 Clique are organized similarly.
TR’s founders have deep roots in Christian hip hop. LPG (Dax and Jurny Big) started rapping in and around churches in the mid-80’s and Peace 586 helped craft sounds for them, his Freedom of Soul duo, as well as SFC and JC and the Boyz.
Over the years, the group expanded and contracted through nearly three “generations.” The evolution also saw them shift from a heavy California focus to include members from Boston, Texas, and New York.
The Wade-O Radio team believes it is vitally important to both document and learn from our history. We strive to pay respect to the artists who blazed trails before our current chart toppers.
Wade recently ran down 24 artists that were influenced by the Cross Movement and here, Sketch the Journalist, walks you through 17 who took their queues from the Tunnel Rat fam.
In the broadest of terms, Tunnel Rats were often identified by:
- Their self-classification as “rappers-who-were-Christians.” (In contrast to those who claimed the “Christian rapper” title.)
- The high value they placed on the quality and purity of their hip hop art.
- Their openness and strong desire to perform outside of churches and compete and/or collaborate with non-Christians.
These topics are still discussed and debated within our community. The artists on our list may or may not have directly or personally interacted with the Tunnel Rats and their music, but we believe they are approaching their work in a similar spirit. The influence is there. The gratitude should be also.