Lyrical theology, part 2

Following on from my earlier post on shai linne, I want to let you all know about another very exciting hip-hop project. It’s by a group that shai linne is part of, known as the 116 clique (refers to Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel….”) and the album is called “13 letters”. Each of the rappers in the group takes on one or two of Paul’s 13 letters and summarises their main thrust in a hip-hop track (i.e. Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon) and then a few other tracks on different themes such as “Evolution” – talking about sanctification of believers.

13 letters: an excellent example of lyrical theology

13 letters: an excellent example of lyrical theology


So why is it so good? Firstly, it is a superb piece of artistry. The 116 have brought together a varied bunch of rappers and producers that gives a very different feel to each track, but ones that keep you interested and fit the theme. So one minute you have the thoughtful and touching track “It’s yours”, looking at Paul passing the baton onto Timothy in the book of 2 Timothy (Paul’s last letter in the Bible). Next you’re listening to Json’s treatment of Colossians as a banging beat that laces a strong rebuke against the false teaching in the church. Of special mention is also Lecrae’s “Break it down” – it’s not my musical style, but is a very clever treatment of 1 Corinthians…I won’t say any more, you’ll have to find out yourself!

These men have really, I mean really got into their Bibles on this project as well. They’ve got a good idea of context and of the main thrust of the letters, and have brilliantly transferred this to a rap format. They’ve also stuffed the letters full of scriptures straight from the word which don’t sound jarring at all. A good example of this is shai’s coverage of Romans – probably the best summary of Romans you are likely to get in under 5 minutes (and shai in his encouragement for further study at the end of the track even gives a list of useful commentaries – “my man John MacArthur” is a line you don’t often hear!).

I genuinely believe that I have a much greater understanding of what is in each of the 13 letters after hearing this album, and even better I have a renewed excitement about studying the Bible after hearing it (which is exactly what listeners are exhorted to do on “Dig in”). Check out the linked video below for the 2 Corinthians track and if you like it then go and buy it (you can get it from

– Stephen