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Trendsetters: Hip-Hop
Artist: Various artists
Label: KMG Records
Length: 15 tracks at 60:00 minutes

This CD samples some of the early hip-hop artists who paved the way for today's Christian rappers. Not a "best of" record, and not a chronicle of rap, the success of this CD is that it brings together some strong leaders of the genre, and some strong songs to back up the claim of "trendsetters."

12th Tribe kicks off the record with the song, "Knowledge Is the Tree of Life," a big boom Bible lesson. Two more 12th Tribe songs follow. After 12th Tribe's trio of tunes, CMC's laid back, smooth rap style is represented through their triple play. The mighty and creative Gospel Gangstas and pioneers P.I.D. are also here with a set of three jams of their own. Texas is represented by one each from D-Boy, M.C. Ge Gee, and M.C.R.G. The fact that there's only one from D-Boy is my biggest disappointment with the project. D-Boy was one of the fastest and most talented rappers ever in Christian music. He's been dead for 10 years (shot while going home to the dangerous neighborhood he ministered and lived in), but he's still missed. M.C. Ge Gee, D-boy's sister, picks up the mic and the family's hip-hop vision with a real choice follow-up to D-Boy's song, "Drop the Mic," called, "I Caught the Mic."

If you pick this CD up, you may discover some new stuff or rediscover some old stuff, but I can promise a blessing either way. I haven't been so encouraged by a CD in a long time. I was urged to fight the devil, evangelize, reach out to the needy, and love God above all else; all at high volume and with powerful bass and drum beats driving the truths home to my body and soul. I heard several inspiring sermons as I listened; the biggest difference between these sermons and the ones preached at my church on Sunday is the backbeat. The artists included here are some of rap's best doing exceptional songs. Do not look here for a history of rap. Missing are SFC, DC Talk, et al, but the label "trend setters" is appropriate enough.

These brothers and sisters are no longer out in front beating a path. Rather, they are close behind us, pushing us on, encouraging us. Surely hip-hop loving kids in the streets or in the fields can be a strong witness and stand up for Christ when this kind of creativity and commitment has got your back. A moving listen. Feel the love.

Tony LaFianza 9/6/2000



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