Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Access (not) Granted Pt. 2

Peace and blessings,


I last left off with the lessons learned and the implications from the seminar I attended on hip-hop and Christianity. Before I move on, I want to emphaisze that the focus of the seminar was to discuss 1) How we as Christians can become more aware of and use hip-hop culture to expose our youth ( I say "our" to indicate that we must take back our youth!) to Christ. The summer of my sophomore year, a friend of mine introduced me to many Christian hip-hop artists, among them being Cross Movement, KJ-52, Sev-Statik, and Grits. From then, I was hooked. They provided me with a springboard into another dimension of hip-hop music and culture that I was previously closed off from. In the past, when I would hear of the term "Christian rapper," I would automatically assume that their lyrical content and skill would be lacking in relation to the secular artists who I listened to. And although, like with anything there are people who are more talented than others, I have found that from the Christian artists that I constantly keep in rotation (most of which are included on the "hip-hop" section of the website), having a relationship with Christ does not stifle artistic expression, creativity, or breadth (the ability to address mutliple issues and experiences). On the contrary, a relationship with Christ stimulates and enhances these things! And as I reflect on this notion it makes perfect sense. Since God is the creator of all this good, of which gifts. talents, and skills are included, it makes sense these things would be exponentially improved if they are used in a way that gives credit and glory to God, the source and creator of these gifts, talents, and skills. Which brings me to my last point...


As I have become more engulfed in Christian hip-hop, and learning more and more how within the broader hip-hop culture, God is raising up biblically-sound, Christ-filled, and lyrically gifted MCs who are out to reach the youth and the lost, the resistance to this movement is become more and more evident as well. In my opinion, the lack of visibility and access many Christain MCs have faced and are currently facing can be illustrated by the following hypothetical situation. Imagine a child who, for whatever reason, is intentionally starved. Once the child is to the point where he or she is really hungry, they are only given bad-tasting food. Now, the fact that they eat this food demonstartes that they were hungry, but simply eating the food in no way suggests that the food itself was good to them or for them. However, because the child was starving and that was the only food available to them, they got their grub on for real. Further, and more devastating, is that because we often form perceptions of others and their behaviors based on a superficial analysis of that person, the child's eating of the food is perceived as meaning that 1) the child likes the food and 2) the food must be good. It's the same with the current hip-hop scene. Many youth and people who are going through difficult times or do not have a relationship with God are looking for some kind of guidance or "blueprint" for how to navigate life. In other words, they are hungry, to the point where they may be starving. To these individuals (as it was to me during early adolescence), mainstream hip-hop (e.g. the same 8 songs that get played on every major radio station, each with catchy, hypnotic hooks and touch on the similar themes of sex, violence, crime, and materialism) becomes their bad-tasting food. Because this appears to be the only food gaining mainstream visibility, they are quick to consume and eat because they are not aware of a quality, healthy alternative. Therefore, although listeners may call in to these stations and request these songs, I argue that they are not FREELY choosing to hear these songs in a way that attests to the song's quality. To freely choose something, one must also have a somewhat comparable alternative to validate one's choice. For instance, In order for a child to choose to do their homework, he or she must weigh that choice against a comparable alternative, such as not doing their homework and hanging with friends. Until these major radio stations and other media outlets present the public with comparable alternatives, the public will never have a FREE choice when it comes to which music they want represented in the mainstream. And we all know that the opposite of freedom is slavery, but let's not get into that right now, lol. Now i'm not saying that hip-hop should not address issues of sex, crime, violence, drugs, or whatever. These are all aspects of people's life experiences, so i think they should be addressed within hip-hop culture. However, my beef is not with WHAT is being addressed, but HOW it is being addressed. For instance, many mainstream hip-hop artists address these issues and the negative affects they have on people, but fail to mention how people can overcome these and other vices. Further, the argument that artists are ONLY speaking their reality and would have more positive, uplifting lyrics if that was their experience does not hold hold weight for two reasons. One, I know that many if not all of these artists are aware of God, and know of his power. As Shabach, one of my favorite Christian MC's puts it:

"I pray for secular rappers with dope music/who have that Godly intuition but they don't use it!"
-From the song "Speak to me" off of the album, "From Sin to Shabach: The Rebirth"(album info in the "hip-hop" section)


Second, because of hip-hop's influence, artists must realize that millions and millions of people look up to them from throughout the world, and thus they are obligated to steer the youth and others they influence in a more positive direction. As I conclude, I would like to ask those who read this to pray that God continues to add more avenues for Christian hip-hop to gain access to the masses. Although I'm a humble dude, I am overly confident, actually 150% certain that if the youth and the lost were aware of positive, quality Christian hip-hop and were thus able to choose between the bad-tasting food and the food that helps us (by directing us towards a relationship with Christ) transform our earthly lives and solidifies our spiritual lives, I know they will choose the latter. This is an issue that I felt God has laid on my heart for a while, and thus I will continue to address this issue in the future. I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts on this, so please speekonit...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never knew you used to be an MC in your former life. LOL..

Anonymous said...

Yeah, (secular) hip-hop can be very deceiving & if one is not careful, one can buy into the whole lie of it (i.e. materialism, crime, violence, get money & more money, etc). It reminds me of ATL ’05 theme all over again, which is “Identity Theft” – (Expose, Reclaim, Prevail). (Secular) Hip-Hop can steal your identity, which is why it is important to pay attention to the things we listen to, because it either lift us up or brings us down. Hmmm……so true!!! LOL (I can’t believe I am complimenting my own comment).