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.

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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.