Sampleface Five: Hip Hop Songs About Jesus

jesus-hip-hop

For Good Friday, we’re looking at five hip hop tracks about Jesus.

Besides Christian hip hop, the genre is far from being the music of the church but that hasn’t stopped rappers using religious imagery in their lyrics and album art (Kanye, anyone?). Since it’s Good Friday, we’re taking a look at five tracks that have featured Jesus in some way.

1.  Kanye West – Jesus Walks (from The College Dropout)

I couldn’t really do this article without mentioning this song. All bases were covered on this track: religion, police brutality, terrorism and, of course, Jesus. Sample wise, this was Kanye at his very best, merging Lou Donaldson, a church choir and a bits of Curtis Mayfield and Large Professor into one of Kanye’s best tracks.

2.  Ghostface Killah – Black Jesus (from Ironman)

The Game did a track with the same name but Ghostface Killah’s Black Jesus is still the best. Off his debut album Ironman, there isn’t much in the way of religious context in the Wu Tang lyricism but you can’t fault the lyrics they did use. The sample, from The Blackbyrds’ Riot, is flipped to perfection by RZA (obviously), adding those classic hard knocking RZA drums to a powerful choir. I wonder if Kanye got his props from this.

3.  Iowa Church – Rappin’ for Jesus (from… God?)

White folks “rapping for Jesus” and using the word “ni**a”? It was pretty controversial when it appeared on YouTube, but Iowa Church took it in their stride and it soon became yet another YouTube viral hit. The video was produced a few years ago after the church closed down, with pastor Jim Colerick and his wife laying down the questionable verses. Parody or otherwise, I don’t think Jesus died for that.