Here’s a brief run through of the candidates:
Aaron Cole continued to ride the wave of his EP Can I Be Honest and was signed to Gotee Records. TobyMac, the label’s co-founder did a track with Cole and subsequently found himself at the top of the Billboard Christian Hot AC/CHR National Airplay chart for the song Right On Time. TobyMac also announced Cole to be part of his Hits Deep Tour for 2018. This was after a successful tour run with Canon and Deraj.
Dee-1 solidified himself as a figure in the community when he partnered with Sallie Mae to speak and give advice to college students in need of loans following the viral success of the song, Sallie Mae Back. He has championed education and preparing students for college and beyond. He made a memorable appearance on Sway and dropped his long-awaited Slingshot David album, and hit the road on tour to support it.
Derek Minor put in work this year as he announced his Up and Away series of four EPs and dropped the first two installments, Your Soul Must Fly and High Above. He also dropped a couple of music videos and toured with the Newsboys. This is some of Derek Minor’s best work to date and highlights the maturation of one our genre’s G.O.A.T.’s.
KB dropped his album Today We Rebel which many view as album of the year. The artwork design, marketing rollout, and growth we hear in KB musically have really impressed. KB headlined his Tempo Tour with Social Club Misfits and Swoope in early 2017, went on to do Winter Jam dates, and then closed the year strong by headlining his 20 city Hometeam Tour with Trip Lee, Joseph Solomon, and Ty Brasel. In addition, he created his Native Supply and Native North brands. Native Supply is a design, printing, and fulfillment company for merch, while Native North is a full-service creative agency providing creative direction, songwriting and production.
Lecrae continued to push boundaries outside of Christian hip-hop and found himself grabbing features from Ty Dolla $ign and Tori Kelly. His album All Things Work Together saw him put forth one of his best efforts yet all while continuing to raise his voice on social justice issues. Lecrae talked about a lot of problems in 2017, and stated that 2018 is about providing solutions.
Loso continued his battle rap dominance in 2017 and wrecked opponents with his “imaginary gun bars.” Loso has not only reached the top tier of battle rappers in 2017, he continues to defend his faith in Jesus on battle rap platform while spreading the gospel in the battles. He also dropped a solid project in Before I Commit EP.
2017 saw NF possibly become the top Christian rapper in the world. NF’s streams and music video views were in the hundreds of millions. His album Perception debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. NF became a touring beast in 2017, headlining his own tours and selling out countless concerts. Tours for 2018 are lined up for the U.S. and Europe. NF is absolutely on top of his game right now.
nobigdyl. is definitely positioned as the future leader of CHH. From the humble start of his label indie tribe., until now, dyl. has grown leaps and bounds in one year. Canopy reached #20 on the Billboard Heatseeker’s chart as well as #7 on the iTunes Rap/Hip-Hop chart. This year’s Canopy album is not as high as he’ll reach in 2018.
Social Club Misfits also had a phenomenal 2017 the release of their highly successful The Misadventures of Fern & Marty. After a number of solid singles, they put out three more for their album that’s dropping in February, and these were even better than the songs released this year. The misfits pounded the pavement and hit the road as usual, including runs with KB, and Winter Jam. 2018 will bring a new album in February and another run on Winter Jam for the duo.
Ty Brasel may be up for the feature king of 2017. You heard Young T on songs with KB, Derek Minor, Thi’sl and more. Ty dropped one of the best projects of the year, and a couple of hot singles. To top his year off, he signed a record deal with IVAV, a division of Curb Records.