Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Access (not) Granted Pt. 1

Peace and blessings,

As you can see, I have recently been making many updates to the site. Although I have updated many of the site's components, I have recently been focusing more on the "Holy Hip-Hop Resources" section. This focus is the result of two factors. One is that I am a serious hip-hop head and would not turn down a freestyle or cypha if my ife depended on it, lol. Quiet as kept, I was actually one of two MCs in a live hip-hop band for a semester while in undergrad. The other reason why I have been adding more media, artist info, and other Christian hip-hop related stuff is because I know that God has created this subculture within the broader hip-hop culture for a reason. In my early teens, I got real heavy into the whole hip-hop/rap culture. My first hip-hop cd that I consistently rocked was Snoop's first album, "Doggysyle." From then on, I got my hands on any and every rap cd there was, from Ice Cube to DMX to Jay-Z to Bone Thugs and Harmony. You name it, I either had it on cd or used cassetts to record their songs off of the radio (real talk, that was the thing to do in the mid to late nineties, lol). In high school (in particular Junior and Senior year), I became more engulfed in the music and culture, to the point where if my boys and I did not freestyle either during lunch, after school, or driving home from school, then a brotha didn't feel right. In college my love for hip-hop grew stronger, but little did I know that God was working out something within me.

My first year of college, hip-hop played an important role in getting me through. By this I mean that in college everyone needs a healthy outlet to relieve stress and relax from the academic demands, and for me my outlets were hooping and freestyling, although freestyling occured much more often. When we couldnt find anything to do on the weekends or just wanted to "take a mental break," my friends and I would have freestyle sessions that would last hours. My sophomore year, my love for hip-hop remained the same, but what I loved about it started to change. Upon attending "Atlanta '02," a black student christian conference put on every three years in Atlanta by Black Campus Ministries (a branch of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship), I was most looking forward to attending the seminar on Hip-Hop. At the same time, however, I was alittle reluctant because I just knew that going to a Christain conference and discussing hip-hop (especially as it is represented in the mainstream), would mean that I would have to throw away all of my "secular" hip-hop cds (which at the time was all of them because I was not yet exposed to Christian hip-hop). To my surprise however, I did not leave the seminar feeling convicted to throw away all of my secular hip-hop cds. What I did learn from the seminar and thus took from it was that 1) "the church" (both in an institutional sense and in the sense of we as a collective of believers) should pay more attention to hip-hop culture because we cannot deny the influence it has on the lives of youth and young adults. 2) We also discussed how there are some "secular" artists (i.e. DMX, Pac, and Nas) who at times offer their perspective on who God is and what the power of God can do for people who are disenfranchised. It is important to note that the seminar's speaker did not condone the lyrics, behaviors, and messages of these artists, nor do I. He was just using them to illustrate the point that as Christians, we need to be aware of the cultural messages permeating the minds of our youth, and hip-hop is no exception. 3) Lastly, and probably most importantly, we learned that there is a spiritual battle going on within the the culture of hip-hop, and thus because of the culture's many facets and what it's often associated with in the mainstream, it is not for everyone. For example, although I did not feel that I had to throw away all of my secular cds, I did throw away most of them, not necessarily because I felt a strong conviction to do so, but because as God was widening my perspective in terms of the influence of hip-hop and how He intended it to be used, I no longer had the desire to listen to most of the stuff I used to let infiltrate my spirit. Now there are still a few secular artists I listen to from time to time (some pac, some jay-z, some nas, some AZ), but I have become alot more cautious of the type of music I listen to. In order to avoid making this post super long, the rest of this messsage will be included in part 2. Speekonit...

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