(Photo: Expansion Music)
When thinking of worship music, the first thought that comes to mind usually isn’t rap. New Jersey born rapper E. Daniel is innovating the sound and perception of hip hop with his upcoming debut album, The Breaking Point, that combines these seemingly distant genres.
E. Daniel spent much of his childhood in Florida, consumed with the desire to make money. Upon moving to Dallas to resettle, he converted to Christianity. While in Dallas, he began to wonder what his role was in Christianity.
“I was at church one night and I [saw] the pastor preaching and I [saw] the worship leaders singing and I [saw] everybody just playing their role. And I just knew that there was something that God wanted for me. I just didn’t know what it was,” he said.
That night, he went home and prayed on his knees, crying out to God.
“I was like, ‘God ... I know you created me for more than just this life and sitting in church. I know you want something more from me and I want to know what.’ So I was just telling God I wasn’t going to leave Him alone until I heard from Him, until I knew exactly what He wanted from me.”
He suddenly felt a need to reach out for his Bible. After opening it, the first passage he came upon was 1 Chronicles 16:23, which says “Sing to the Lord all the Earth. Proclaim His salvation day after day.”
“At that moment I knew God wanted me to make music,” he said.
Shortly after, E. Daniel discovered that he had the talent to rap and write hip hop music. As he developed his talent, he began to use what he learned in a local Bible study geared toward the youth.
While there, he noticed that many of the young participants were disconnected from worship and he was determined to get them engaged.
“What I noticed was that, when we had worship, a lot of the kids didn’t connect. A lot of them were estranged. They were aliens to the church. They didn’t know anything about it. When they heard the guitars and the bass, they didn’t know how to react to it. It wasn’t their language,” he found.
So he began writing a rap song every week and found that the kids related to his songs. But they still weren’t worshipping God “with all their hearts,” he recalled.
“They were just listening to the beat and being excited by it, but they weren’t connecting with Christ in any way,” he said.
“So what we started doing was taking the worship team and my rap and just combing them both and doing the same worship songs, and in between some of the songs, just coming with some rap. And they started being engaged with it and kind of embracing it.”