The '90s was a time when rap was coming into its own. It was evolving from a genre into many sub-genres, each with an audience of its own. It was also during this time that many Christian rap groups started to step into the limelight and share their unique worldview through lines and rhymes with a steady beat. Who were these pioneers who toiled to lay the foundation for modern Christian rappers? Let's look at some of the best Christian rap groups of the '90s.
The Top 5 Old-School Christian Rap Groups of the '90s
- dc Talk
- Disciples of Christ (D.O.C.)
- Gospel Gangstaz
1. dc Talk
Born out of Liberty University, dc Talk became the most notable Christian rap and music group of the '90s. They would become best known for their success as a rap/rock group, but this success was built upon their rap roots. When the group released their first album, DC Talk, it quickly became the best-selling debut album of any Christian group. Their first music video would even land them a spot on Black Entertainment Television (BET).
The group would later release Nu Thang, which was gold-certified, selling more than 500,000 copies and scoring them a Dove Award. Their sophomore release was followed up by their most successful rap album, Free At Last. This album has since been certified as platinum and resulted in the group's first Grammy Award for Best Gospel Rock Album despite being a rap record.
With their fourth album, the group would make the transition to a rap-rock style, but their legacy from the early '90s established them as one of the best Christian rap groups of the '90s.
2. Disciples of Christ (D.O.C.)
If one were to ask the members of Disciples of Christ how they came to be as a rap group, they would point that person directly to God. During the college years of two of the founding members, Alton Hood and Kelvin Harvey, became mixed up in the occult, drugs, and the party lifestyle. They place the credit at God's feet for lifting them out of this background.
As time passed, they eventually met and added a couple of more members, Michael Brown and Matt Stevens, before they would catch the attention of Star Song Records. With the release of their first album, So How Ya Livin'?, in 1991, they would quickly become established as one of the best rap acts in Christian music.
They would go on to release two more albums, collaborate with other artists, and be nominated for Dove Awards before disbanding. Even though they no longer exist as a unit, they have continued to contribute to Christian rap music through their pioneering work.
3. Gospel Gangstaz
Straight out of Compton and South Central L.A., Gospel Gangstaz is a Christian rap group made up of former gang members. They have turned from their former ways and now seek to reach out to those still involved in the gang lifestyle. They originally started as a trio with the release of their first album, Gang Affiliated.
They have since had a couple of changes in the lineup and released numerous albums, including three during the '90s. Aside from being nominated for a Grammy, the group has also started a clothing line called Camp 8 and continue performing as a duo of lyrical artistry.
Grits are that good ole Southern corn dish of Native American origin. So, what exactly does grits have to do with Christian rap? Nothing. G.R.I.T.S. stands for Grammatical Revolution In The Spirit. They're a popular Christian rap group born from two former dc Talk dancers, Stacy Jones and Teron Carter. G.R.I.T.S., or simply GRITS, mixes their flavor of rap in the alternative and Southern styles.
They were one of the first acts signed to Gotee Records, established by dc Talk's own Toby McKeehan, and they have released eleven albums to date, including three during the '90s. They are perhaps one of the best-known Christian rap groups and continue to rock the mic.
T-Bone has been tossing out rhymes since the ripe old age of 7. He was on his way to stardom, but on the verge of signing his first gangsta rap deal, he had a change of heart. This change propelled him into the Christian music scene.
When he was signed to a deal with the indie label Metro One in the early '90s, gangsta rap was almost unheard of in Christian music. Thus, the pioneering role which T-Bone has played in the scene cannot be overstated. He released four albums during the '90s, but his first major award, a Grammy, would have to wait until 2000 with the album The Last Street Preacha. T-Bone continues rolling today and releasing jams to tweak the soul.
Crew on August 14, 2018:
What about JC Crew
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on May 02, 2014:
Listened to all of these guys. I still listen to T-Bone. And as for DC TALK, their "Free At Last" CD is pulled out whenever I need a mood lifter.
bockshiner from Dallas, TX on June 25, 2012:
I'm not a big rap fan. But I like DC Talk. Their Supernatural album is still one of my favorite albums.
sandonia (author) on June 25, 2012:
Haha. Memories, eh? :)
They were one of the primer groups, but it's surprising how small of an audience Christian rap had then compared to now.
I still find myself playing it on the guitar from time to time. Haha.
brenda12lynette from Utah on June 25, 2012:
I loved dc talk when I was younger. My sisters and I performed "Jesus Freak" for a high school lip sync.
Melody Lanei from Jacksonville, FL on June 25, 2012:
Love this!! We used to bump Gospel Gangstas all the time growing up!! Only Christian rap I listened too but it was really nice to learn of other groups that were/are out there!!
Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on June 25, 2012:
Ack- DC Talk!? "I don't want it, I don't want it want it, I don't want it, want your sex for now! I don't want it, I don't want it, want it, I don't want it til we take the vow!" :)
sandonia (author) on June 25, 2012:
Yep. I'm familiar with PAX 217. I really like them. You should check out my other hub on Christian rock music from the '90s. :)
I'll check them out, and thanks for the votes!
Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on June 25, 2012:
Great hub! Another Christian rap group you should check out is Shai Linne, a group that interprets theology throughout their songs! Check them out on youtube, you will not regret it! Voted up, awesome, and useful!
WhydThatHappen on June 25, 2012:
"Tiiiiime is tickin' away! Tick tick ticking away!" I used to love dc talk! I forgot all about them til now, thanks for reminding me.
Pax 217 was pretty good too, they were reggae, but they might've had rap thrown in there, do you know them?
Now all those bands from my childhood are coming back to me! Audio adrenaline, newsboys, noggintoboggin, s c chapman... Cool