Chance the Rapper, the Chicago artist who broke new ground with his Coloring Book album, describes himself as a Christian rapper in a recent interview.
Chance’s embrace of the label is notable in light of other Christian rappers who have tried desperately over the years to distance themselves from the classification.
In an interview with Get Out writer and director Jordan Peele for Vogue magazine, the 24-year-old hip-hop artist was asked if he ever had “any fear with going against the bad-boy swagger of working in hip-hop.”
Chance responded in the affirmative, explaining his trepidation with possibly turning off some would-be Coloring Book listeners.
Definitely. One of my biggest fears with Coloring Book was that it would be labeled. I hate labels. I never sought out for people to recognize it as a gospel album. I don’t make Christian rap, but I am a Christian rapper. When I was going out and trying to fully give glory to God, in my setting, I feared that people would be dismissive of it, like, “This is Christian rap, I’m not trying to hear it.” But it’s the total opposite: People were very accepting of it. Whether they say, “I’m an atheist, but I love Coloring Book” or they say, “I’m so glad I was able to get closer to God through this project,” people had formed opinions about what I put into the world. I think that’s always the goal of art, is to make people ask themselves questions. Like Get Out!
Chance also revealed why he decided to include “How Great” (a rendition of “How Great Is Our God”) on Coloring Book.
The rapper told Peele:
Like you said, it’s half and half. But there’s a lot that feels serendipitous and just kind of comes. One great example is a record I did that is a rework of the song “How Great Is Our God” that we used to sing in church all the time. My cousin Nicole sang the song at three different, very important events at my church: my daughter’s christening, my uncle’s funeral, and my grandmother’s funeral. Every time it came across, I felt some type of calling from it, but I didn’t fully understand what it was meant to be in my life. I had her record it, and eventually I put it on the project. It ended up being the song that I performed at the Grammys. I couldn’t fully say that it was my planning or my intuition, but I knew that it was important. There’s a lot that just comes with betting on yourself.
Lecrae, perhaps currently the most visible rapper to emerge from the Christian music industry, inspired debate for years over the “Christian rapper” label.
Billboard magazine noted in 2014 that the Grammy award-winning artist had been “trying to avoid being boxed into one genre.”
Lecrae attempted to clear up any confusion over his position as a “Christian rapper” during his appearance on BET’s “Lift Every Voice” program aired in February.