Christian rap has been around since the 1980s and received considerable mainstream attention over recent years. One of the most talked-about young Christian rappers of the modern age is New Yorker Chud’e, who released his warmly-received debut album Chilltown in December 2019. The album was home to the early single Day and Night, which has been streamed more than 36,000 times on YouTube. The long-player itself has now received almost half a million streams over a five-month period.
A blend of musical styles
Chilltown features elements of hip-hop, pop, R&B and gospel. It came just a few years after the artist first discovered Christian hip-hop after he spent time in Nigeria and reconnected with his father, who was once a minor criminal but is now a respected pastor. Born Paul Iwenofu, Chud’e overcame many challenges during his teenage years such as the loss of several friends, his estrangement from his father and his failure at 6th grade.
The inspiration for Chilltown
The album’s lyrics discuss the rapper’s relationship with God during several seasons of his life and is named after the area where he grew up, which was nicknamed “chilltown”. In the track Day and Night, Chud’e talks about how he trusts Jesus to help them through life’s various “obstacles, difficulties and doubts”. Not everyone the rapper knew approved of his decision to start rapping, and these doubts are explored in-depth within his lyrics. However, he says he entered the rap industry “for the Lord’s honor”. He is currently working with a range of talented independent performers, with new material on its way.
Chud’e has been featured in a range of prominent media magazines and websites including the leading Christian music publication CCM Magazine. He has also received support from the YouTube Christian hip-hop channel CHH and was interviewed on Cross Rhythm Radio, one of the US’ foremost Christian radio networks. On social media, he has received support from the likes of chhtsnetwork and CHH Source. Chud’e hopes his music will help audiences find “hope through chaos” and grow through faith, perseverance and trial and error. Having won praise for his “booming voice” as well as his “clever punchlines”, the rapper aims to win over non-believers as well as Christians.
The road to Chilltown
The rapper’s parents hail from Nigeria and he was born in Brooklyn. He entered a troubled period of rebellion after his father left home when he was ten. He says the lack of a positive male role model during his teenage years caused him to misbehave and lose friends as a result. Around this time, he also lost contact with his half-brother, his only sibling. When he headed to Nigeria after a challenging few years, he started to gain a richer understanding of his culture, formed a new relationship with Jesus and got back in touch with his father. He then discovered Christian rap when he returned home.
“Pointing people to Christ”
Once he returned to the US, Chud’e began studying Christian rap and discovered rappers including Lecrae and Bizzle. Before long, he started working on his own material including songs like Chilltown and Too Late. An early supporter of his work was the UK internet radio station, xRhythms. Collaborations with artists including Melanie Williams, Anodyne Virtue and Echo Guzman featured on his debut album, which he hopes with “point people to Christ”. He also hopes even non-Christian listeners will identify at least one track they can relate to.
Other key work
Chud’e has also been working as a Youth Development Specialist in New York whilst continuing to write and record music in his spare time. One of the key purposes of this role is to support and inspire vulnerable young people in the situation that he once found himself in and to help them avoid making damaging mistakes. He also aims to become the positive role model he didn’t have during his teenage years, hoping that the Lord will put him “in the right direction” and help him to assist others either as a musician or in a different capacity.
Mainstream Christian rap
Although Christian rap has been around for four decades, it has gained more mainstream exposure over recent years. In 2014, Lecrae scored a #1 on the commercial album chart with his record Anomaly, and TobyMac is also a leading figure in the Christian rap movement. A growing number of mainstream rappers have also been embracing Christianity, with Kanye West recently scoring his first hit on the Christian Albums chart with Jesus is King, which topped the rundown in autumn 2019.
Where to find Chud’e
Those that are yet to hear Chud’e can head to Soundcloud, Spotify or YouTube, where he has 17 videos and over 5.5k subscribers. He can also be followed on platforms including Twitter and Instagram.