Above See Level – Promo Tape

Above See Level
Promo Tape
1994 Sub-A-Tomic Charge
Botsford, Connecticut, USA

Brother Time
Brother Faith

  1. Bran Nu Lingo
  2. Goin’ On

This is your typical pre-release sampler, with a generic cover and short sampling of songs from the upcoming album. What made this one different is that it actually came with the full j-card from the upcoming release. So you can see the full album, but not hear it. Bummer – this is some quality 90s rap. I hope the full album shows up in the stacks someday. No bonus interviews or remixes on side 2, either.

Stephen Wiley – Rap It Up

Stephen Wiley
Rap It Up
1988 Brentwood Contemporary (C-5058N)
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA

Stephen Wiley – Vocals
Mike Barnes – All music, except:
Brett Teegarden – Music on “Where Will I Go” and “Why I Rap”
Kim Lucas – Background vocals on “Where Will I Go?”
Glenda Barclay – Background vocals on “Where Will I Go?”

Side 1:

  1. Intro Rap
  2. Heroes
  3. Big Man
  4. Best Friend
  5. The Rock

Side 2:

  1. Where Will I Go?
  2. Stand (Ephesians 6:10-20)
  3. Why I Rap
  4. Fourth Man (Daniel 3)

This was the full-length debut from Stephen Wiley. It was also one of the first full-length Christian Rap albums. The Rap’Sures was technically the first – but that was more of a kids album for kids that were into rap. Then there was Roy Suthard’s album – but that was about it. I don’t think Roy Suthard’s was on a mainstream Christian label with national distribution – so this is probably the first full length rap album for all ages that Christians saw in Christian bookstores across the nation. Unfortunately, the tape that I have of this has seen better days – the last two songs on side one are a bit warbly. But still, for those that like early cheesy rap – this is quite the Holy Grail. There were the singles Bible Break and Rappin’ for Jesus before this tape, and he followed this tape up with Get Real in 1989.

Stephen Wiley – Rappin’ for Jesus

Stephen Wiley
Rappin’ for Jesus
1986 Brentwood Contemporary (C-5053)
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA

Stephen Wiley – Rap vocals
Mike Barnes – Keyboards, drum programming on “Rappin’ for Jesus”
Gary Lunn – Bass, drum programming on “Let’s Praise (Psalm 150)“
Tim Akers – Additional synthesizer overdubs
Damiyon Everly – Human beat box on “Rappin’ for Jesus”

Produced by Stephen Wiley and Mike Barnes

Side 1:

  1. Rappin’ for Jesus
  2. Let’s Praise (Psalm 150)

Side 2:

  1. Rappin’ for Jesus (accompaniment track)
  2. Let’s Praise (Psalm 150) (accompaniment track)

This is one of the earliest Christian rap releases out there – Wiley had one more before this (a single called Bible Break), and there were a few others like MC Sweet that came before this. Also note that there is a 7-inch single from 1987 for the song “Rappin’ for Jesus” that contains the regular version of the song, a radio version, and two audio commercials for the song as well. The sound here is still early rap (or electro rap as some call it). Also, for those that think the whole “accompaniment track” thing is weird… it was a thing back then. Maybe still today – I have no idea. But the intent was that people could take these tracks to youth groups, schools, street corners, etc and perform their own versions of them. Other acts did this as well (like the Rap’Sures). Wiley followed up this single with the full length Rap It Up in 1988.

Stephen Wiley – Get Real

Stephen Wiley
Get Real
1989 Brentwood Music (C-5072)
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA

Stephen Wiley – Rappin’ (for Jesus)

Side 1:

  1. Get Real
  2. Born Again
  3. Gimme Da’ Word
  4. Save the City

Side 2:

  1. Just Say No
  2. F-A-I-T-H
  3. He Came Back
  4. Daily Devotion

Wow – I have been looking for early Stephen Wiley tapes forever. You would think that someone would have re-issued these classic albums by now, but they remain hard to find. Many of these tracks are on YouTube, but not the whole tape. This is early-style rap (sometimes even referred to as “eclectro”, even though that is not totally true here), and by 1989 it was kind of out of style in the mainstream. But for those of us that have a love of early rap despite all of the cheese, this tape is a welcome treat. There is even the stereotypical 80s rap ballad on here. There is no list that I can find of who helped with instruments/music or background vocals, so I am assuming it is Wiley doing most of the music and background vocals here (except for the female ones, of course). This was Wiley’s second full length after 1988’s Rap It Up. He followed this up with two more full-length albums: Rhythm and Poetry in 1990 and Rhapsody in 1992.

Deep 4 Life – It’s Time to Repent


Deep 4 Life
It’s Time to Repent
1995 Kross Road Records
Houston, Texas, USA

Side 1:

  1. Ain’t No Player Hatin
  2. Southern Conversation

Side 2:

  1. Make Love to Your Mind
  2. Life or Death

I wish that I had more time to search YouTube and find more stuff like this. People are uploading all kinds of rare tapes. You can listen to this one below. This is mid-90s rap, which I don’t know a while lot about in general. I was more of an 80s rap fan. But this reminds me of T-Bone. They went on to release the full-length One Foot in the Grave in 1996, with all 4 of these songs making another appearance. Also, all four of these songs were on a four song 12-inch record called One Foot in the Grave as well. I’m not sure who all is in this group – Klas One is listed on discogs, but there is also a picture of ten people there as well. Klas One went on to release some solo CDs as well.

Roy Suthard – Plain White Rapper

Roy Suthard
Plain White Rapper
1987 Cherry Grove Records (CGR-002)
Goose Creek, South Carolina, USA

Roy Suthard – lyrics
Cherry Grove Music – Music

Side 1:

  1. Plain White Rapper
  2. God is Cool
  3. Take It Out
  4. Holy

Side 2:

  1. Morning Time Rap
  2. Real Deal
  3. Love Rap
  4. Brotherhood

This one is a Holy Grail for many people. Some of us were not even sure it exists. While one article talks about Roy Suthard being one of the early Christian rappers – this tape seems elusive at best. Was he real or myth? A discogs entry for a single with two of the songs here went up a few years ago and proved that two songs did exist. That single mentions a full length release – but still no info on that full length. Was it planned but never released? Well, I can prove that it was released. And yes, Roy is white. The sound here is pretty cheesy by today’s standards. But so was some popular rap at the time. This album was probably recorded in response to 1986 albums by Run DMC, Beastie Boys, and The Fat Boys. By the time 1987 rolled around, rap was moving towards a more serious sounds with the release of debut albums by Public Enemy and N.W.A. Of course, 87 also saw DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s debut – so there was still some cheese around even then. If you know rap, you can probably guess what this sounds like by the song titles. I have a thing for “cheesy” early rap (I don’t find it cheesy to be honest, but that is what many call it), so I tend to love this kind of stuff. Oh, and Roy also sings the sung parts himself as well 🙂

The Spiritual Rapper – The Messenger of God

The Spiritual Rapper
The Messenger of God
198? (no label)
Holly Hill, Florida, USA

Ty Dowdy – Raps, lyrics, drum beat
John Leavell – Strat guitar, bass, drum machine programming

  1. Young People of the World
  2. Missing Kids
  3. The Rapture

Pretty much all I know about this one is in the picture above – I can’t find any information about this online. This is early rap that comes across as more serious than cheesy. There appears to be no scratching or DJ on this release – just original music played by Leavell. Think something like Run DMC’s less guitar-dominated tracks without Jam Master Jay. Still some guitar and bass, but no riffs. Some people find this style cheesy, but back in the day this would have been serious rap in comparison to the cheesier pop rap that most were familiar with.