The rapper Chud’e has seen his audience grow remarkably since the release of his 2019 debut album Chilltown. One of the album’s highlights, the single Day and Night has reached more than 36,000 hits on YouTube and was released independently. Chude’s sound blends genres including hip-hop, gospel, R&B and pop.
The key themes of Chilltown
The album itself describes Chude’s relationship with God during several seasons of his life. The town that the rapper grew up in was known as Chilltown, which seemed to be the perfect name for his debut record. Speaking about the single Day and Night, Chud’e says the song’s lyrics reflect his trust in Jesus throughout all life’s “obstacles, difficulties, doubts etc”. The song also talks about the way certain others viewed his decision to enter the rap industry and the doubt initially felt towards him. Its lyrics say he “only joined the rap game for the Lord’s honor.”
Increasing media support
The artist, whose real name is Paul Iwenofu, has been releasing music globally since 2018. Chilltown has now been streamed almost half a million times, with its lyrics mainly exploring themes of faith and spirituality. Paul is in the process of working with several major independent artists and has received media coverage from several Christianity publications and websites including CCM Magazine, Salem’s fortnightly Christian music magazine which covers stories on some of the movement’s most prominent artists. He has also received support from CHH, YouTube’s second-largest Christian hip-hop channel and been interviewed on renowned Christian radio station Cross Rhythm Ratio. Well-known social media platforms that have promoted the rapper include CHH source and chhtsnetwork.
“Finding hope through the chaos”
Chud’e – who’ name is pronounced “Chew-day,” says Chilltown is all about “finding hope through chaos, learning through trial and error, growing through faith, perseverance and optimism and the value of friendship”. He can be found on various social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram, with his music being available on YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify. The Jersey City Heights rapper has been praised for his “booming voice” and “clever punchlines. Chud’e first discovered Christian rap back in 2017 and has been a serious Christian for the vast majority of his own life. He hopes Chilltown will be regarded as an autobiographical work that appeals to Christians and non-believers alike.
The evolution of Chud’e
The rapper was born to Nigerian parents in Brooklyn. His father left the family home when he was ten years old, with the rapper describing himself as a “rebel” during his teenage years and believing his behaviour to be linked to a lack of available male role model. After his behaviour caused him to start losing friends, he lost contact with his half-brother and saw most of his old acquaintances move away. After a particularly dark period in his life where he failed 6th grade, he went to stay with family in Nigeria. He says this period enabled him to understand his heritage, grow as a person and start a new relationship with Jesus. He reconnected with his former minor criminal father whilst he was in Nigeria and found he was now a pastor.
“Pointing people to Christ”
Once Chud’e returned to the US, he studied for a criminal justice degree and started attending church on a regular basis, met a group of Christian rap fans and discovered artists such as Bizzle and Lecrae before starting work on his own material. Early singles included Chilltown and Too Late, and he started to receive considerable support from UK internet radio station xRhythms. The album dropped on New Year’s Eve 2019 and featured guest appearances from artists including Melanie Williams, Anodyne Virtue and Echo Guzman. He expects most listeners to find at least one song on the album that they “are able to relate to”. He also hopes the record will “point people to Christ” and give others “strength”.
The artist’s next step
Chud’e is also a Youth Development Specialist in New York working with vulnerable young people and aiming to put him on the right path. Although he is yet to become a full-time rapper and wishes to be “the person I didn’t have” when he was growing up, regardless of which capacity this is in. He says he knows the Lord will point him “in the right direction”. Christian hip-hop first emerged in the 1980s though initially had little mainstream exposure. Today, themes of Christianity are commonly explored by some of the rap world’s biggest names. Some of the best-known figures in Christian rap include TobyMac and Lecrae, whose 2014 album Anomaly reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 200. Stephen Wiley’s 1985 album Bible Break is said to be the first-ever full-length Christian hip-hop album. Christian rap tends to have sizeable followings in countries where non-religious hip-hop is also popular, including Australia, Canada, Brazil and the UK.