Remember Christian rap? We might as well start way back with DC Talk, that’s where we all started anyway, but how much more do you know? Ever heard of E.T.W. or A-1 Swift, some of the early innovators? What about Christianity’s answer to N.W.A., The Gospel Gangstaz? Former DC Talk dancers Grits? Philly’s The Cross Movement? The Tunnel Rats? LA Symphony?

Any of this ringing a bell?

As time went on the genre matured and the music got a lot better. I bet most of you have at least heard a few of those groups, and a tiny percentage has maybe heard of all of them. Well, for me, back in the day, I not only listened to all of these guys (and girls), I wanted to be them.

Truth: My best friend Jay and I were a Christian rap group. We started out in the mid-90s as Disturbing Da Peace, then moved onto The Watchmen in high school before teaming up with a rapper called Joe-B-1 and finally settling on the name Underground Flowershop. We recorded an album, did a couple shows under that name and promptly broke up…the group. We’re still best friends.

Although I turned my back on the game (as they say) Jay did not. He laid down the mic in favor of the turntables and has become quite the reputable DJ around Boston, now backing an artist who I think could be the best rapper to come out in a long time.

His name is J.D.O. He’s a Boston emcee that happens to be a Christian. His first record, “Talent” was not released on a Christian label (or any label really, it’s independent) and therefore he’s not subjected to the scrutiny, censorship and purported JPM’s (Jesus’ per minute) of contemporary Christian music.

But most importantly, he’s really freaking good. I know that some of those groups I mentioned up top are still making music, and the list has grown to include a few others, some of which are pretty excellent (I’m looking at you, Bobby Bishop), but J.D.O. truly takes it to that next level. His songs are full of life, the ups and downs, work, girls and God. But what really makes him standout is he’s honest. And that comes across is in his music.

I guess Christian rap went on without me. I’m just happy to know the bar has been raised.

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Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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