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They say music is the backbone of culture. In religion and in the world, it creates communal identity. Its impact not only affects only our emotional responses, but movement coordination and social connection as well. For something to be this influential, it really does speak to the universal language of the human experience.

For this reason, we sat down with seven Christian hip-hop and R&B artists who are taking their human experiences and turning it into spiritual art that challenges societal norms and inspires positive change.

Elev8 Trailblazers

Source: Christopher Cavanaugh / Brandon Coton / iOne Digital

When Lee Vasi (pictured in the center above) told me how she once lost herself to the point where she forgot who she was, “and [is], as a child of God,” I could relate.

I didn’t grow up going to church every Sunday. I knew of God at a young age, but my real relationship with Him didn’t start until later in life. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cadence of church music when I was younger, but as I became closer to God, my hunger for nourishing entertainment became stronger in my adulthood and that’s when I discovered Christian hip-hop and R&B. Now, as a music-head and someone whose career has revolved around media, urban music and creative expression, this blew my mind.

To set the scene: I was in my 20s, living in Harlem, trying to balance dating and a shift in my career, all the while navigating how to live a life pleasing to God. The backslide was too real, but music always helped shift my mindset and set a tone to what I desired or was working through when I needed a reminder of who I was and whose I am. I specifically remember stumbling upon “You Should Know” by Jor’Dan Armstrong in 2015; he was talking about living a life pleasing to God, but when he referred to the opposite and said “knock on wood I know you bored,” I said, Ok, bars!” The subject matter and beat wasn’t your typical Christian music. It reminded me of “Post to Be” by Omarion, Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko. From there, I went down a rabbit hole and was amazed by what I found. Apparently, I was late to the holy party.


Fast forward to now, Christian hip-hop and R&B has evolved into more lyrical heat that’s sonically comparable to today’s top mainstream music, yet edifies the body of Christ, and I’m impressed.

You guys know this world we live in. Sometimes it’s easier to move with the crowd or flow with negativity than it is to intentionally stand in the calling God has on each of our lives and embrace the imperfect journey along the way. Christian hip-hop and R&B artists Lee, Jor’Dan, Childlike CiCi, Franchesca, Mike Teezy, Stevie Rizo and Wande — they choose the latter and they all possess a welcoming nature that shines through their music and in person.

Through the lens of cinematographer Chris Cavanaugh who helped bring vision to life with his camera, we were able to explore the journey of these 7 trailblazers who have revolutionized the sound of Christian hip-hop and R&B with their personal testimonies and shared with us how they navigate the unique space of Christian lifestyle music.

Stay tuned to for a deep dive into their stories throughout the month!

-Aliya Faust 

Rewriting the Rules: Trailblazers of Revolutionized Christian Hip-Hop and R&B

Elev8 Trailblazers

Christian Hip-Hop and R&B Artists You Should Be Following
Elev8 Trailblazers
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