Engaging hip hop

Hip hop artists demonstrate unique forms of worship at Sola soul.


A graffiti artist creates a mural at Sola Soul 2014 which took place at Sutherland Auditorium. | Michelle Shin/THE CHIMES

Luke Taylor, Writer

A crowd of energetic students gathered around the stage in Sutherland Auditorium on Friday night to watch Sola Soul, Biola’s annual hip-hop concert featuring different styles of worship.

Multi-Ethnic Programs and Development hosted the event, inviting hip-hop artists, graffiti artists, spoken word poets, disc jockeys and break dancers to perform. With so many different Christian hip hop artists, finding a good fit for the program was a central focus for event managers, senior sociology major Esmeralda Barcena and junior sociology major Janelle Paule.

“Although it may be intimidating to engage in a worship that is new, worship is worship at the end of the day, and so it’s nice to engage in something that we might not be comfortable with because the uncomfortable is what stretches us,” Barcena said.

GOWE, a Seattle based rapper and newcomer to Sola Soul, was one of the main performers of the night and brought up senior music major Erin Kim to sing alongside him. His goal in performing was to demonstrate the versatility that worship can have.

“I want to show them that there are different ways to express yourself. There are different ways to show the love of God outside of the traditional Sunday setting,” said GOWE.

GOWE’s music brought more of a relaxed jazz atmosphere compared to Keno Camp’s lyrics that had faster beats and deeper bass. This Compton based hip-hop group returned to Biola after performing at Sola Soul 2012 and SCORR Conference 2014.

During the event the audience was given many different styles of hip-hop and was exposed to spoken word, DJs, breakdancing, graffiti art and even a hybrid of breakdancing and spoken word called broken word.


Even with all these different displays of hip-hop culture, the artists continually emphasized that God is their reason for performing. Artists with an authentic message was one of the aspects that the event planners were looking for, Barcena said.

“When people are listening to our album or at a concert we want them to have fun, but we want them to look in the mirror and say, ‘Man, I am nothing without Christ,’” said Terrell Sales, member of Keno Camp.

Setting an example of Christianity and being unique in hip hop culture is a goal that is essential to all of Keno Camp’s members.

“We don’t want to be one of those artist that just make songs that people can vibe to. We want to give you real views of life as Christians. It is possible to operate in the medium of hip-hop and still be authentically Christian,” said Gabe Taylor, member of Keno Camp.


A new addition to Sola Soul this year was the after party. Directly following the concert in the Sutherland Courtyard the audience were given the opportunity to talk to the artists, take pictures with the artwork and enjoy desserts and refreshments. This provided a time for people to share what they may have learned during the concert through this time of community.

“It really helps break the mold of traditional private Christian universities and displays a good example of embracing diversity on our campus,” said Alexis Coco, sophomore biblical studies major.

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