What’s the difference between a business and a ministry? While the answer to this may seem simple, when placed in the context of Christian music, it is sometimes hard to know where one stops and the other begins.
While many Christian artists would agree that the music they make has an ultimate end goal of sharing the gospel, there is an endless amount of views on how the money earned from the music should be used. While some within the industry might see their work as more of a ministry, others regard it strictly as a business for profit, as well as endless combinations of the two views sprawled about in between.
Rapzilla.com interviewed several Christian hip hop artists to gain their perspective on the issue in order that fans might gain a better understanding of this controversy.
“My career is definitely a ministry. But there are aspects that have to be ran as a business. I work a full-time job, so to take time off work, time from my family and travel, there has to be financial backing,” said RMG recording artist B. Cooper. “Flights aren’t free. Hotels aren’t free. Food isn’t free. My mortgage also isn’t free. That being said, I believe it’s a healthy mix. Most people that bring me out or book me are parts of ministry themselves. The money that goes to me is typically money given to the ministry to minister and reach the people. It’s all a cycle.”
Much like B. Cooper, most artists within Christian hip-hop work full-time or at least part-time jobs to maintain a more stable financial situation. When it comes to issues such as supporting a family, there typically isn’t much of an argument. It’s what goes beyond that where the controversy lies.
“[Most artists] have definitely not nailed that balance [between ministry and business],” said Tucson, Arizona based artist Joey Jewish. “When I was first starting off in this industry, I thought everybody else’s mind was just like me…You notice very quickly that, I think probably like any other industry, it’s very diluted. There’s a few real good men, then there are those who are far out and in it for the gain, and they are basically using Jesus as a hustle.”
According to Joey, this sort of abuse of the Church’s generosity took on multiple different forms ranging from small to severe.
“Whether it was going to a church and walking out the back door and you see some dudes hitting a sneak of coke or something, that we’re just about to get on stage, to people who had managers and I could see them like ‘Hey, we’re not doing anything my artist gets this much,’” Joey saidFOLLOW US ON TWITTER
Although these sort of actions are not universal within Christian hip-hop, it is clear that there are some artists who have been abusing the generosity of the Church for quite some time.
“With some [artists], I would say yes, and with others, I would say no,” said Tony Wray of Lamp Mode Recordings duo Hazakim. “When financial gain coincides with a decrease in Gospel content, I’m too smart to actually believe it’s a ‘coincidence.’ We have a lot of savvy rappers in [Christian hip-hop] 2016. We seem to have mastered the art of putting just enough God talk in our music to keep our Christian fans pacified while being nearly indistinguishable enough to not be persecuted by the world.”
Most would admit the tight fisted nature of some artists is certainly not an industry wide epidemic, and in the opinion of 2015 Rapzilla Freshman Lawren, those who are commonly criticized for being corrupt are simply just making the best decision for themselves and their families.
“I’m not using [Christian hip-hop] or my music as a means of financial income. It’s not my main source of income,” Lawren said. “But, there are people who are blessed enough to have the opportunity for this to be their main source of income. So, those people can be looked at as making business decisions, but at the same time, they are supporting their first ministry which is their household.”
With this being said, most major artists probably focus on the business aspect of music more than most fans are aware of, something which B. Cooper feels should be more than understandable.
“Truth be told, I don’t believe many people reading this would go to their job and work 50 plus hours a week and be happy if they were never given a paycheck,” said B. Cooper. “Trust me, I do not do music/ ministry for money. That being said, everything costs, especially time.”
Many prominent artists have come to realize this in their own careers as well. indie tribe. artist Mogli the Iceberg, emphasizes that ministry should be a part of any self- proclaiming Christian’s vocation, and that artists shouldn’t necessarily be held to any sort of special standard financially.
“If you’re a Christian, we are all called to ministry,” said Mogli. “That should shine through in your profession, whatever it [may be]. At the same time, whatever your profession or career is, you should be doing that to the best of your ability.”LIKE US ON FACEBOOK