Sunday, March 23, 2008

There is Nothing Wrong With Christian Hip Hop by Akindele Akinyemi

Christian hip hop (originally Gospel rap, also known as holy hip hop or Christ hop) is a form of hip hop which uses Christian themes to express the songwriter's faith. Only during the 1990s did the term "Christian hip hop" become descriptive of this type of music.

Now when I have discussed this with several people on the subject of bringing people to Christ by way of Christian rap they said to me that it was not good for Christians to use rap to bring young people to Christ.

Huh? Did I miss something? After all rap music is not bad. It's who is behind the microphone that makes the message good or bad.

C. Craige Lewis of Ex Ministeries claim that Hip-Hop is a religion. He gets this from KRS-One which is taken out of complete context. Anyone who have studied hip hop music would find that DJ Kool Herc is largely credited as the “father of hip-hop.”

Craige claims that KRS is a founder of hip-hop. Hip-hop was “born” in 1973. KRS came on the scene in 1986 and dropped his first album, Criminal Minded, in 1987!!!! Furthermore, while Kool Herc was on the wheels of steel (creating this sub culture), KRS One was only 8 years old!!!! Are you telling me that, at 8 years old, KRS helped to found a religion called “hip-hop”, 14 years before he became a part of its music!?!? Big Daddy Kane came out around the same time as KRS, therefore, saying that KRS is a “founder” is like saying that Big Daddy Kane is a “founder”. This is absurd! While I respect KRS’s musical achievements, he is an eccentric personality who has switched his religious and social views more than once. He went from criminal minded to socially conscious to a metaphysical guru.

To tell you the truth, I cannot possible see anyone rapping about Jesus Christ looked upon as evil. That is ridiculous. Most young people learn math, science and history on rap music. Speaking of KRS-One it was him that coined the term "Edutainment" in 1990. This was a form of education fused with entertainment. It was a very conscious album.

Let's go deeper.

As a researcher I have taken studied world music classes, and they all conclude that modern day pop music, including hip-hop, goes back to Black church music. Jazz, blues, and gospel all started in the Black church in the early 1900s. Rock music goes back to church music, soul, these are all the foundations for hip-hop. Up until the Black church, music didn't have the soul, the beat, the rhythm it has today. James Brown is the godfather of hip-hop. His sound is gospel, soulful. Ray Charles, the innovator of soul, got dissed for taking the Lord’s music to night clubs and bars. The reality is, all the innovators in pop culture in the last 100 years started where? — the church. The church dropped the ball because we didn't give these people an outlet to express themselves outside of Sunday morning. It was either praise and worship or nothing. Now if as an artist you were limited like that, I'm sure you would leave the church and go and get your music heard. In the church not giving these artists room to blossom, they left, and the drugs, sex, and sin took over.

The bible says "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Christopher Martin aka Play
Christopher Martin, better known as Play from the rap duo Kid 'n Play, has a new DVD called Holy Hip Hop. He says that he has personally witnessed how Christian rap music can be used as a powerful outreach tool to advance the gospel, positively impact and change lives for the better.

I know some churches are very strict in terms of not getting involoved with the "world" or "wordly" things (even though you go to work every day, pay your bills, take your children to school and shop....IN THE WORLD). The term "worldly" has been taken out of complete context.

Christians are in the business of fishing for the lost sheep. Ask yourself this question. What would you use to bring young people to Christ..a boring sermon in church or music that has a driving beat and message? When I listened to Black Conscious Rap of the late 80s and early 90s it was the beat and message that brought me to Islam. If this type of music back then brought us to the Nation of Islam, Ansaar Community, or the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths then how come we have to protest Holy Hip Hop in a time where only 4% of young people in this city believe and follow God's Word?

Churches must come into the 21st century with innovative ideas to bring young people to the abode of Christ. However, you have some in the Christain community (especially in the Black Christain Community) talk about
how there is so much confusion and ungodly behavior in the Black church they have looked elsewhere for spiritual help. They feel that the World and Satan are destroying the Black church instead of conffessing that they do not know how to lead the youth to their church not because they have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit but their very ego have allowed fear and control to grip their heart. Therefore, there is a seal placed on their heart because these preachers are more interested in keeping control of their congregation rather than allowing the youth to use their raw, natural talent tobring their own peers to Christ by way of poetry and music.

While preachers like Craige Lewis dog Christian Rap I will still ask this question. How come we have a church on every corner in Detroit and HIV/AIDS, STDs, unemployment, bad political leadership from the church, 80% of the families in Detroit are headed by single parents (no real effort to get people married) and adding to blight when you add a church on the corner in the hood?

We need Christian Rap music to bring people to Christ. If these churches were smart it would be the perfect protest method to ban negative hip hop from the airwaves by protesting the advertisers or those radio stations who support this garbage. The Holy Spirit is no good to us if we do not do the work of the Lord in an intelligent and spiritual manner.

1 comment: said...

AK, great topic... and I'd just add a couple of broader points to the discussion...

1) Folks think "christian" music and they think it's lame and usually they're right. And frankly, most of the rap you find on the shelves at your local Christian Music store is going to out-right suck. BUT, and this is a huge "but," there are dozens of immensely talented Christian cats working the underground scene who could go rhyme for rhyme with the top sellers at Sam Goody.

Mars Ill, Playdough, Sintax the Terrific, The Remnant, Pigeon John, LA Symphony, Sev Statik, The Listener... pretty much the entire DS5 click... these guys are hot. H.O.T. Awesome stuff.

2) I was raised on Pac. Still a massive fan. But towards the end of his life / career and afterwards rap became something it wasn't. Back in the day it was genuine. It was the music of the streets. It was about a struggle that the artists knew understood. It was real.

That started changing in the late 90s.

It's all commercial and image now. Sure, the presentation is flashier and the beats are hotter (sometimes... there's really no way to out-do a few of Pac's joints) but the lyrics and the message are pre-packaged and entirely predictable.

Not the case with the Christian artists on the underground and indie labels. It's 100% about the struggle. It isn't all "Jesus saves," "old rugged cross," "God is love" church music. It's about life.

Just my two cents.