Christian rapper Chud’e has made a great deal of ground since he first became active in the industry in 2018. His debut album Chilltown has been streamed almost half a million times since its release on 31st December 2019 with its single Day and Night having been streamed over 36,000 times on YouTube. Chud’e, who fuses gospel, hip-hop, pop and R&B was brought up in New York, spent time in Nigeria following a difficult period in his teenage years and started a new relationship with Jesus around the time. The rapper’s stage name is pronounced “chew-day” and his real name is Paul Iwenofu.
Rapping “for the Lord’s honor”
The album is themed around the rapper’s relationship with God during various seasons in his life. It takes its name from the area he grew up in which was known as “chilltown” by its residents. One of the album’s key moments is the track Day and Night, which talks about his trust in Jesus during life’s many “obstacles, difficulties and doubts”. When Chud’e first decided to enter the rap industry, many were sceptical about his choice. This is also discussed in the song. Chud’e says he started first rapping “for the Lord’s honor”, and he has many exciting collaborations in the pipeline. He is currently working with various major independent acts.
Increasing media coverage
Over recent years, Chud’e has received support from several big media outlets. These including the Christian music magazine CCM magazine and the YouTube Christian hip-hop channel CHH. He has also been interviewed by Cross Rhythm Radio, one of the biggest Christian radio stations in the USA and has been promoted by CHH source and chhtsnetwork across social media.
Finding “hope through chaos”
According to Chud’e, his debut album Chilltown aims to help listeners find “hope through chaos”, learn through “trial and error”, grow via “faith, perseverance and optimise” and appreciate the “value of friendship”. The rapper has been complimented for his “clever punchlines” and “booming voice” and describes his album as an autobiographical record which should appeal not only to Christians but non-believers too. His music can be found on Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud, and he has been growing his follower network on Instagram and Twitter.
New spiritual connections
Chud’e was born in Brooklyn has Nigerian parents. After his father left when he was ten, Chud’e became “rebellious” and was negatively affected by the absence of a strong male role model. He spent time in Nigeria after a difficult period where he lost several friends and stopped being in contact with his only sibling. Many of his old friends had left the area by this point, and the rapper failed at 6th grade. Once he was in Nigeria, he gained a deeper understanding of his heritage and culture, found a new connection with Jesus and got back in touch with his father, who was once a small-time criminal but was now a pastor in Nigeria.
The rapper became a criminal justice student upon his return to the US and started going to church regularly. It was at this point that he discovered Christian rap and started listening to artists like Lecrae and Bizzle. It wasn’t long before he was producing his own rap singles including Too Late and Chilltown, the title track of his debut album. A surprising source of support was the internet radio network, xRhythms, based in the UK. His debut album was released at the end of 2019 and included collaborations with acts like Echo Guzman, Anodyne Virtue and Melanie Williams. One of the aims of Chilltown is to give others “strength”. He also hopes the album will “point people to Christ” and that listeners will find at least one track they can relate to.
Since the release of the hotly received Chilltown, Chud’e has been working as a Youth Development Specialist in New York. He has been working closely alongside vulnerable young people to help them avoid taking the wrong path, hoping to become the person he did not have available during his own teenage years. He expects the Lord to put him “in the right direction” and enable him to make a valuable contribution to the world whether this is as a music artist or in another capacity.
The growth of Christian rap
The profile of Christian rap has risen dramatically over recent years, although it has had a following since way back in the 1980s when Stephen Wiley released the album Bible Break, said to be the first full-length record of its type. The biggest rappers in the industry include TobyMac and Lecrae, who went to #1 on the mainstream album charts with his 2014 offering Anomaly. A considerable number of mainstream rap artists have also achieved success with Christianity-themed records, including Kanye West, who’s 2019 record Jesus is King reached #1 on the Christian Albums chart.