Home Christian News Baptist Seminary Professor Continues Musical Legacy as ‘The Ambassador’

Baptist Seminary Professor Continues Musical Legacy as ‘The Ambassador’

The Ambassador
Photo courtesy of Baptist Press.

NASHVILLE (BP) – Long before William Branch became a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he was known as one of the most influential Christian hip-hop artists of all-time, “The Ambassador.”

Branch’s music career carries on, as his new EP “The Invitation,” releases today Oct. (28).

He told Baptist Press the nine-track project’s title represents both an invitation from Christ and toward Christ.

“In a vertical sense we are inviting Christ to come back to the center of things as Lord, and in a horizontal sense, we are inviting our culture to come back close to Christ as Lord,” Branch said.

Branch was recently honored with the “Kingdom Legend Award” by the Kingdom Choice Awards, a ceremony dedicated to the Christian hip-hop and urban gospel genres.

The award recognizes artists who have left a lasting legacy on the genre over many years. Branch accepted the award and performed during the show Oct. 1 in his hometown of New York City.

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“I just feel gratitude,” Branch said. “I’m just grateful that the Lord allowed the impact of things to resonate and reverberate for an extended period of time.”

Branch’s musical journey and Christian testimony are intertwined from his youth.

When he was a young man living in New York, Branch became a Christian and was discipled in evangelism by his father. At the same time, Branch was being introduced to the rap music genre and hip-hop culture which were becoming more commercially acceptable, particularly with young people.

As a teenager, Branch went through a season where he was rebelling against the Lord and not living as a Christian should.

During this time, he went to live away from his father in Virginia. It was there he was introduced to people who were incorporating Scripture into their rap music.

“It was in the late ‘80s that I started getting the sense that the Bible and hip-hop could go together, but I saw unbelievers doing it, and I didn’t see believers doing it,” Branch said.

He began to become convicted about his spiritual state as he was incorporating biblical lyrics into his own music. This spurred a change in Branch. As a young man, he attended a Bible college in Philadelphia where his “theological appetite went through the roof.”

It was in Philadelphia where the music connections he made would lead to a movement that changed Christian rap forever.

Branch would frequently perform evangelistic outdoor freestyle rap music around the area. Through these performances, Branch began meeting other men who had the same passion for rap music that was biblically and theologically saturated.

These connections would lead to frequent recording sessions in Philadelphia studios. Eventually, Branch led the way in establishing the group of young people with this passion as Cross Movement.

Cross Movement had various iterations, including being the name of the hip-hop group under which the artists would release their music as well as its own independent music label called Cross Movement Records.

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Later, it took the form of Cross Movement Ministries, a non-profit based around the united mission of the artists.

Group projects released by Cross Movement, as well as solo records released under the CM label, would begin to make an impact around the country.

Branch would take on the name “The Ambassador,” in reference to 2 Corinthians 5:20.

“I wanted a name that came from the Scriptures that said something about me personally,” Branch said.