Early Christian rap is a thing of beauty. Similarly to mainstream rap, early examples–though they give insight to the development of the genre–often suffer from simplistic lyrics, weak production, and/or rapping styles that are now outdated and sound lazy by today’s standards. However, we must remember that the genre took decades to develop. In fact, the early 90s were a tough era for the style. It had started to become mainstream and risked disappearing into a subgenre of pop music until it was rescued by gangsta rap and alternative rap a few years later, pushing the genre to new styles and heights, though not without controversy.
M.C.R.G.’s debut In Jesus Name, though timely in a way, exemplifies all of the challenges described above, and nowhere more clearly than on closing track, “The Lord’s House.” The album was produced by Tim Miner (dance pop/urban pop guru) and Bernard Wright, but also featured appearances from D-Boy (Danny Rodriguez), and Barry Hogan (P.I.D.) Yet for all of that talent, the album comes off as cheesy at times and the rapping style on the album is a little weak. Nonetheless, the album stands as an accurate representation of exactly where Christian rap stood in the early 90s.
The tracks are decent and reflect an almost “hiplife” style (a combination of hip-hop and Ghanaian music). I remember when this came out, some of my friends who were deeper into rap than I was claiming this was “the first Christian album with bass!” If you’re older enough to remember early 90s rap, having deep and booming bass sounds was all the trend at the time, even becoming a separate subgenre in its own right.
The artist released a second album a year later. Both albums were on Frontline.