Christian Rap/Hip-Hop Tour Lands in West Michigan

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

KB  purpleIt's one of the biggest road shows in Christian rap/hip-hop – the Unashamed Forever Tour – back after a six-year hiatus with an all-star lineup of faith-based artists. Headlined by the award-winning Lecrae the tour features a variety of talents all under the Reach Records label.

One of those artists is KB (Kevin Burgess, pictured), who says the roster comes together under a cohesive theme.

"It's about the eternal aspects of our existence and what we do that impacts that," said KB, 30, from Nashville. "There's a universal message about being unashamed, and I think every artist in their unique way is beating that drum."

There will be plenty of on-stage collaborations as well as some solo time. "We've put together something special that a lot of folks will enjoy," he promised.

They're off to a good start – the first two weeks worth of shows were sold out in major markets such as Houston and Atlanta.

They come to West Michigan on April 6 when they visit Grand Rapids First in Wyoming.

CALLED TO FAITH

KB took his own path to the rap/hip-hop stage. He played trumpet as a youth and loved music, but never in any way that pointed to a life calling.

However, it was a local music artist – a reformed drug dealer turned evangelist in the Tampa, FL area – that influenced him to start a serious journey of faith.

"I really got into music simply because I was led to Jesus through hip-hop and I just wanted to reproduce that experience to people all over the world," he said.
     
 

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His first mix-tape of songs came in 2011. Just three years later KB's song "100" (with fellow Unashamed Tour guest vocalist Andy Mineo) won a Dove Award in the emerging Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year category.

KB says his favorite of his own songs is his recent "No Chains" which is showcased on the tour.

"It's about how the freedom we have in Christ shows up in our lives," he said. "We are not owned or ruled over by any particular person, politic or institution, but really belong to the kingdom of God... no one can chain us."

CARVING OUT INROADS

Christian rap and hip-hop artists are increasingly making an impression in the world of mainstream music – up to a point. KB says many mainstream rap fans respect what they do, although it may annoy them nor would they make it part of their musical diet.

"They don't see it as a threat or something that would encroach upon the mainstream music contributors," he noted.

But to share the stage with "secular" rappers would be nigh to impossible, and it's not a goal for most of the faith-based artists. "We'd have to change our content and say the things that people want to hear, and that's the biggest barrier," he said. "There's so much (there) that our ethics will not allow us to be involved in."

Even in the world of Christian music there's been progress, but there's still a ways to go.

KB has recorded songs with contemporary Christian artists such as Crowder and For King & Country. He recorded and toured with Tenth Avenue North. But those associations haven't necessarily broadened his platform.

"They are friends of mine and I enjoy doing music with them, but I'm not sure it works that way," he said.

Noteworthy point: Although his guest vocals on For King & Country's song "O God Forgive Us" didn't include any rapping, he said several radio stations wanted to remove his part before they would play the song.

MOVING FORWARD

Although there has been a rise in the number of "hip-hop" churches, the broader church community has been hesitant to accept the musical style. KB said the church often has been a micro-expression of issues in the broader culture, "And sometimes when the culture has started to turn the page, the church has been resistant," he stated.

Nevertheless, the unashamed tour is making an impact and nearly all of its concerts are in large church venues. Several of the artists have been guests on other tours or performed on their own. But now they're all together.

Its last time around the tour was called "Unashamed Tour V" and had a differing artist mix. Concert promoters say that for this tour the descriptive word "Forever" has been added because "The word of the Lord endures forever." (I Peter 1:25).

Concert Details:
The Unashamed Forever Tour, featuring Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Tedashii, KB, Trip Lee, GAWVI, 1K Phew and WHATUPGR
7pm Sat. April 6
Grand Rapids First, 2100 44th SW, Wyoming.
General admission tickets $25; group rates for 10 or more $22 each; Platinum VIP passes may also be available. Tickets available online.
     
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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