The most legendary holy hip-hop cipher of them all? Perhaps. Tunnel Rats’ debut Experience (1996) was truly mind-blowing. It’s one of those rare albums where the line between art and artist was completely blurred, if it even existed in the first place. The lyrics (as well as the passion behind them) reflected absolute love of hip-hop music and culture, and absolute love of God and his Gospel. Very few artists, very few albums or artistic endeavors reach that climax of full integration where neither the message nor the artistic medium was compromised in any way whatsoever. That album is ridiculously hard to find (and expensive if you’re lucky enough to track one down.
The group has been comprised of a very long list of other well-known and/or underground Christian rappers like Albert Olguin (Jurny/LPG), Brandon Arriaga (The Foundation), Dax Reynosa (Theory/LPG), Don Baker (Dert), Donovan Luke Henry, Elsie Van Clief (New Breed), J. Dodd (The Foundation), Jason Petty (The Footsoldiers), Joseph Evans (Sev Statik/StuDent/Deepspace5), Raphael Henley (Raphi/Shames Worthy/The Footsoldiers), Renee Vasquez (Peace 586/JC and the Boyz/Freedom of Soul), Rosario Ortega (Macho/New Breed), Zane Valdez (Zane One). Not sure if they had disappeared or simply fizzled out, they returned 5 years later with another stellar album in Tunnel Vision, whence comes our Song of the Day. As a group, the crew put out three more albums (the last one independently), but many of the members have continued to make high quality rap music in a number of different forms and as both solo artists and/or members of other groups.
I chose this song in part because of the video. What I love about this video is how it serves as a sort of tribute to hip-hop music and culture itself. Notice how the video incorporates all four elements of classic hip-hop culture into a single video: rapping (duh), graffiti, breakdancing, and of course sampling/mixing (as well as the unofficial fifth element–b-boy fashion). I love what Tunnel Rats did for Christian hip-hop and the miracle of pulling together that many different artists to create something so cohesive and so artistically beautiful.