Hip hop took the world by storm when it was first recognised as a music genre. A mix of rhythm and speech, Christian hip hop took its own share of the market for the first time in 1982, with faith based lyrics as a differentiation. Over the years, the industry of Christian hip hop has grown to the extent that there are now a few awards ceremonies which recognise Christian hip hop and the difference it seeks to make.
With a large percent of Namibians being Christian, it is obvious that Christian music would also feature significantly in Namibia. We spoke to renowned hip hop artist Harry Msimuko, who goes by the stage name ‘Metamorph.’
Having always been surrounded by music and coming from a Christian background, ‘Metamorph’ has always been passionate about hip-hop for as long as he can remember. In fact it dates back to when he was just five years old.
At the time, Harry says as he confides in us, that he listened almost exclusively to Eminem, 2 Pac and any modern kind of hip-hop underground if he deemed it different and creative on a superior level. ‘Metamorph’ at the same time also found himself in the midst of a Christian influence circle of friends, which he leveraged by intertwining the music he wrote about with his faith in God.
Sharing his faith in an artistic fashion became a hobby, and he used this platform to ask the grand questions of life. With friends and family hyping him up and constantly asking him to expand on a much bigger scale, ‘Metamorph’ would always brush it off believing that he had to improve his craft more by finding a unique way in which to speak value through his music.
“I just did not want to release songs just so I could sound like other rappers; I wanted to produce songs that would impact or inspire people because that was the difference I sought to make”.
The light came on for ‘Metamorph’ when he attended a church service where his pastor preached a powerful message during which he learnt that life is like a song.
“He challenged us by asking what type of song your life is, whether is it an angry heavy metal type song or is it a gangster rap song. While he was preaching, he looked at me and asked me to do a rap song for the church and impulsively I told him I would do it a week later which I did”.
This was when he knew it was high time he took his craft seriously. Since then he started living of his motto ‘enough entertainment, lets inspire’. That focus allowed him to spread messages of encouragement among many people.
‘Metamorph’ further explained that all the content he now produces points into the direction of the gospel. This remains his focus as he aims to increase understanding among his listeners until it becomes clear to them. As Lecrae said “Christian hip hop uses hip hop to communicate things God will endorse “.
‘Metamorph’ has in the past collaborated with other hip-hop artists who are non-Christian as a way to show that people are able to collaborate, notwithstanding their religious beliefs.
“I cannot be an artist and say that I will not make music with other artists who do not share the same religious beliefs with me. To me it sounds a little silly because it’s like saying I won’t work at a certain company because most of my colleagues are not Christian – how then do we grow as people ? ”.
As a Christian, ‘Metamorph’, aims to continue loving everyone around him as he believes that this is the way he needs to live, noting that there is so much room for more Christian artists.
Another Christian hip hop artist in Namibia is Nonchalant in Action (N.I.A) Wellington. N.I.A recently scooped Best Gospel award at the 2018 NAMAs and he shares his take on Christian hip-hop music. For the past two years, life took a dramatic turn for him and thus he has dedicated his life to God.
“As my life took this turn it spilled over into my music because when I do music I do it from the heart. At this point all I can write and rap about is how amazing God is and how he has saved my life because I was living a very destructive life”.
For him hip hop has brought such an amazing balance to his life and has given him the opportunity to touch people’s lives in ways he never thought possible.
“This has also exposed me to such an amazing following because people really believe in the gospel. I think Christian hip-hop music is slowly gaining the respect it deserves but there are still a lot of critics who remain focused on the fact that hip hop has always been associated with violence and vulgarity.
But to the critics I say, please give it a chance and look past the dress code and listen and understand the message that we as Christian artists are trying to get across – it is of great value”.
Inspired by Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp and Kirk Franklin to name but a few, N.I.A through his talents aims to always share the hope of never losing one’s faith in God as He is good all the time.