Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hip-Hop and the "Gospel"

“Most of your songs/are just as foul as it gets/and as wild as it gets/
People/they follow your steps/and how low is this?/
Talking model chicks and bottles of Crys?/speakin’ out of your lips/
The same lips you try to convince/
That although your music is fowl/God’s behind your success/
But nope!/that’s a misnomer/God hates your music He’s not a schizo/
For real it makes no/difference/how you try to explain/
That your heart ain’t same as the stuff that you’re sayin’/
You see your heart’s the problem and your mouth’s the problem/
You can’t appease the wrath of God with a gospel album/nope!/”

- Da Truth
“Whose Team?”
The Faith

"With young men and women looking up to me, I have to let them know that I’m a man of God.”
- Young Joc

Peace and blessings,

Let me start off by saying that as I am writing this, I am praying that it is received in a way that gives God glory, and if for whatever reason it is interpreted otherwise, then I apologize. As I was reading a recent article about
  • Hip-Hop Artists Sharing the "Gospel,"
  • I was very disturbed about at what I was reading. The article (I encourage you to read it for yourself and weigh in) talks about how hip-hop artists like 50 Cent and Young Joc are talking about God during their performances and in other arenas, and how this can potentially have a positive impact on youth who may not be exposed to God otherwise.

    Before I get into what disturbed me about this piece, let me preface this discussion by making a few points. First, I am not saying that all Christian hip-hop is of God, nor am I saying that all secular hip-hop is of the devil. Although now I primarily listen to Christian hip-hop, one of the secular artists I still listen to is Joe Buddens. Although I disagree with some of his content and his conceptions of God and Jesus, I think that many of the issues he addresses needs to be heard, and I praying that he truly turns his life over to Christ(I got a feeling that he will in a matter of time, but that's another topic). Second, I am in no way trying to put myself or the Christian artists I listen to as being "above" secular artists in anyway. We all fall short, therefore this response is not about who is "without sin," but a call for us to examine the directionality of our thoughts, words, actions, and intentions. Lastly, although this piece may come off a little "bullish," I am making a clear distinction between being judgmental and taking a stand. I am in no position to engage in the former, yet I also realize that I cannot sit back and forego engaging in the latter. Therefore, this response is also a call for us to take a stand. With that said, let's get into business...

    The thing that bothers me the most about this article is that it seems to equate mentioning God with sharing the gospel. While I believe that God is working on them and will continue to work on them, I think we have a place these situations within context. I have no problem with secular rappers mentioning God in their songs if they feel led to do so; what I do have a problem with is the conceptions of God they are potentially expressing when they talk about God. In my opinion, sharing the gospel goes far beyond just mentioning God. It is having God be reflected and glorified through our lives. In other words, we have be transformed into a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). Again, not to say that we have to be perfect, but the directionality of our thoughts, words, actions, and intentions have to be geared towards God.

    Another part of the context that is important to consider is the large amounts of star-power that these artists have. I'm concerned that people who look up to these artists as role models may view them as reflecting the God they are talking about. For instance, having one song that talks about God at the end of an album whose previous 15 tracks were about anything but, may potentially give off the impression that God is "cool" enough to know, but not "cool" enough to compel us to do away with things that are not pleasing to Him. Then again, can you really have the former without the latter? To me, it seems like the hoopla of this article has more to do with WHO was talking about God than WHAT they were actually saying about God. If it really was about the WHAT, then artists such as Cross Movement, 116 Click, Da Truth, Japhia Life, Flame, and countless others who have been talking about God and sharing the gospel for the past decade would have the same platform to reach masses as secular artists tend to have. I liken the situation to high school where the popular students say the same thing that was previously stated by unpopular students, but the other students give the popular students' words more weight than the unpopular students.

    In conclusion, I want to say that I am not saying that secular artists who talk about God are not sincere, or that they are "faking it." I'm just urging us to not be so quick to catapult them to the position of being THEE medium for reaching people (esp. youth) who may otherwise not know about God and/or listen to their music. I do think that secular artists can have a positive impact through mentioning God in their music or during their performances, but that doesn't mean they must be the end-all-be-all when it comes to who God is and what He requires of us. Just a few thoughts...

    What do you think? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

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