Monday, September 23, 2013

Why God Hates ... Rap! (Or Does He?)

Is it necessarily "wrong" to listen to Hip-Hop or R&B?

Great question, can't wait to see the different perspectives on this one!

A few years ago, a strong movement that transcended much of the western church was the "Truth About Hip Hop" video series.  It presented a history of Hip Hop and made the claim it was founded on ancient African demonic tribal rituals.  I was given this "ministry package" and told to teach it to my youth group ... "need to get these teenagers off of that rap music."  After reviewing the material objectively, I made the case to my pastor that the whole presentation was clearly subjective ... none of the "facts" presented made any sense let alone had any source recognizable as legitimate.  It was clearly created with a bias against the style of music. To put a candle on the cake, they were sure to use a black presenter so as to validate ... I mean, having a white speaker would just be not accepted.

I am also aware of bias towards rap and r&b (rhythm and blues) within all ethnic groups within the church.  After all, rap is destroying our culture right??  Or is it something deeper.  Could it be that it's not the music, but the entertainment industry?  And if it's the industry, then shouldn't all music genres be included.  Is it possible that even the Christian music industry might be in some way a facade that is purposely engineered to sell cd's and tickets?  If we are going to be objective, let's be objective!  It would have carried more weight with me if it had been named, "The Truth About The Entertainment Industry."

I say to discount any genre of music is to cut off completely (and foolishly) a means of artistic impression.  But what kind of Christian supports rap music, hiphop, and R&B?  Well, the kind that supports LeCrae, Corey Hicks, K2S, Grits, TobyMac Anointed, The Winans, and the list goes on.  I present that the problem is in the message, not the genre or platform of the message.

While it is plainly obvious that what is presented as mainstream rap is all about violence, sexuality, etc ... it is extremely important to note that the music industry is just about as legit in its message as the WWF is in its wresting.  They are stage actors ... remember Vanilla Ice ... the white gangster from Miami who turned out to be from Houston and only took on the whole Miami thing bc his label had him do it in order to maximize profits ... lets also remember how hard his crash was ... and how the industry hung him out to dry.  The sad thing is that, though I disagree with his message, the man was and is super talented.  He did what he was paid to do, just like they still do now.

Very few musicians in the industry actually make any money off of their cd's ... most are salary based and don't start making additional money off of cd, ticket, and promotional sales until their total sales meet certain benchmarks.  It is the way it is for all of the music genres, including our own blessed Christian/Ministry Industries ... they are all about money and, in the end, owned by only a few hands, not like what is presented.  Is that bad?  No.  Not necessarily ... business is business.  If they don't make the money, then the system fails.  The problem with the mixed messages is that they are only selling the violence, drugs, sex, etc bc THERE IS AN AUDIENCE FOR IT!!

The problem with them is US!!!

We shake our fists at rap then continue purchasing our country music (well, not me, I typically don't favor country music) or whatever our preference is ... and they cycle continues, bc when we feed the animal, it continues in all aspects.  This then must also include the whole entertainment industry as a whole: movies, tv, BOOKS(!!!), magazines, internet media, etc ... it all must be considered if we are to be objective.

I personally, as a Christian, have some passages that I use as a guide of whatever I subject myself to:

The first:
Mat 6:22  "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24  "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (see also Luke 11:34)

The lamp of the body is the eye can be properly translated "the senses are windows of the soul."  If we look on, listen, touch, taste, or smell evil willingly then we agree with it.  It will quickly go to war against the voice of God living within you through His Spirit.  I have to clarify here that we should protect ourselves from witch hunts as well.  Secular does not mean evil, nor does Christian mean everything said is about Jesus.  Many times ppl use Christian music as the platform to gain fame when their hearts were never about His work (remember Creed anyone?).  As a Christian math teacher, I don't teach Christian math ... that's foolishness.  Why then do we imprison Christians in the arts ... we hurt Jessica Simpson by enslaving her ... we beat Thomas Kinkade when he was in pain ... how dare we continue this imprisonment.

I thank God Joy Williams was able to survive it, even though her reputation as a Christian artist has been severely attacked ... by Christians?!?  Because she recognized the sin in the camp and realized her mission and voice was meant for a much larger and more honest audience??

The second:
1Co 6:12  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1Co 10:23  All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 

In his letter to the Corinthians, a church plagued with sexual immorality yet seeking a vain form of godliness appearance through ritualistic observance of religious rites, Paul spent a lot of time separating the difference between righteousness and righteous living verses the outward appearance of righteousness for the sake of seeming righteous though full of evil.

We, as believers have to realize that if Christ is our righteousness, we are lifted from the burden of the Law ... the don't ... yet we ourselves are to recognize that though we are no longer under the burdens, we are still to recognize that somethings are just not good for us.  We are to be busy redeeming the time ... giving ourselves over to things that "so easily ensnare us" can be dangerously close to "taking the grace of God in vain."  It is a freedom to choose.

Other scriptures I use are 2 Cor 6:14-18 (Is 52:11), 1 The 4:1-8

Let me make this clear.  I am a Mariah Carey fan ... have been my whole life.  I appreciate her talent.  I recognize that she has made mistakes in her judgment and presentations ... no one sees that more clearly than her (I would assume).  But many of her songs put words together, thoughts if you will, that I absolutely agree with ... that I otherwise could not have put into better words myself.  That is the point of artistic expression ... what makes "the great ones great."  Much of the influences of the style of the music I write are from secular artists.  Many I don't listen to anymore because I don't agree with their message, but it has NOTHING to do with the genre.

If I claim rap as evil, then as a writer of some rap music (Psychic Lady, Alive) I am at conflict within myself.  Even if the suppositions of  "The Truth About Hip Hop" were true, then what about God's ability to redeem things.  Shoot, pants were once considered evil.  We still have certain denoms telling women to dress in snow suites and the like .. it was just 20 years ago that many churches preached that the use of minor chords were evil.  I was once being considered for a worship leading position at a church .. the pastor told me that God had told him I was the one...but then he said that he would have none of the electric guitar thing .. that distortion was of the devil!  Umm distortion is of the tubes shaken loose in the power section of the amp but still making enough contact to send a signal .. that is choppy and crunchy.

In the end of my rant ... (sorry if it seemed one) ... I express to you what I apply in myself and suggest to all .. BALANCE and good filtering.  I LOVE good rap and R&B ... I LOVE the sound of a rocking guitar ... I LOVE the smooth jazz of a club singer in a tight space (New Orleans y'eard!!).  I even love a good country song that challenges the human condition and brings us all to remember something important (few and far between I must admit .. sorry country music) ..

But I make sure that everything that goes in does not violate what I agree to be wrong, which means I have to put aside (sacrifice if you will) music that I find fun and motivating bc what the industry is presenting through them is contradictory to my message and to God's light in me.  I also be sure that the large majority of entertainment I enjoy has a Biblically agreeable message.

I still follow Joy Williams, U2, etc ... and I still listen to RAP, R&B, Rock, RapRock, Blues, Jazz .. and I still write it all!

That's my take anyways ... awesome question.  So what are your thoughts?

Don't be confused.  LEARN STUFF!!!
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  1. Wait a mention of Carrie Underwood? My feelings are hurt.

    Seriously, it is totally wrong to write off a particular genre of music due to the poor taste of some of the contributors. It's the same as someone suggesting that we don't teach with fiction books because some are distasteful. No, you should simply avoid those with distasteful messages. Do not write them off altogether. Personally, I enjoy a variety of music genres. On any given day, that is when my phone hasn't gone for a swim, I can be heard listening to anything from Mandisa to Pitbull. Music sends messages. We need to make the right choice of feeding ourselves with the best messages. Depending on my situation at the moment, I may need to hear a country song to calm me down; or I may listen to Pitbull while cycling. I am not filling my mind with garbage. I am simply listening to what I need to stay motivated in this thing called 'life'. However, I will admit that 99% of the time I am listening to K Love. Why? Because that's what I like. :)

  2. Check out Air1 ... just saying ... love KLOVE but AIR1 is alos pretty awesome. You say well that different genres of music pull different emotions from us, they also help us cope with them too .. to settle them. Great comments as always Anonymous 8B

  3. I listen to Air 1 as well, on iHeart Radio. That is, whenever my phone hasn't gone for a swim. :)

  4. I am still suffering the consequences of its last swim. I can barely see pictures and my phone fades as time passes during usage. However it still serves the purpose which it was intended for: communication. All else must wait until 12/1/13 when I can upgrade for zero dollars. I'm holding out until then!

  5. Buy from Best Buy, use their warranty plan, and you have a free replacement for any reason accept loss of the phone ... a worthy investment!