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Does Holy Hip-Hop have its place or is it a disgrace?

November 30, 2010

Is Holy Hip-Hop destroying the Good Gospel?

Holy hip-hop (Gospel Rap) has emerged onto the scene as a genre of music that ignites some church goers and attracts the youth. However, is the creation of this genre philosophically corrupting the doctrine of the Black Christian? I view this new era of music as the tail wagging the dog and not the dog wagging the tail. Why would I see it this way? The church should be the independent leaders of the community who are convicted in what they believe instead of some accommodating a class of people for the sake of a large membership. You see, I believe the dog should be in control of his tail and not the tail in control of the dog. Secular society and those working against the building of God’s Kingdom is not the dog, it’s the tail. Saying this, even though hip-hop was not created to be a devil worshipping model, it was also not created to build God’s Kingdom. So what does all of this mean?

We hear many gospel songs that emulate the rhythm and melodies of our music genre such as, Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, and Country, however, we do not hear the titles including “Rock and Roll” in their genre. We don’t hear Rock and Roll Gospel. We do not hear R&B Gospel. All we hear is Gospel. Though, in theory its intentions are noble, my problem here is the church is lending validity and credibility to a music that was not created for God and oftentimes, does not include him in the rappers’ approach. So why use it? The end does not justify the means in this case because the end can be a church whose mission is becoming diluted in its beliefs and work.

With all of the intelligent Christian producers, why not create a new genre of music that may be rappers’ lyrics over a particular melody that attracts the secular people and the youth. This music can have its own name without the inclusion or “hip-hop” or “rap”. After all, this is one of the reasons gospel rap exists, to make Christianity more appealing the secular society. But what happens when our convictions become too accommodating? Don’t we think accommodating folks just to get them through the church doors will cause a problem either for the church or for the member later? It’s no different from being fake when you meet someone you want to date. If you falsely appeal to them just to get their attention or their “membership” over time, that person will expect you to remain the same way which attracted them to you. One of three things will happen: 1. you will either work hard to remain false for the person, 2. the relationship will break-up after you are unable to continue being the person you presented initially or 3. you will have to change your original convictions or beliefs in order to keep the person.

Has the church gone wrong by allowing hip-hop to be attached to their music? Many would argue that it is a way to get people into the church and that the content is what’s important. Not to mention the power of beats! You may not like the words but the beat will seduce you into liking the song soon overlooking the words. I find this as hideous as the argument about the use of the “N” word. Spelling “ga” instead of “ger” at the end is still a gross disrespect to those who died at the hands of those who were hatefully using of the word. Getting the people into the church? Please! If you get people into the church doors by using musical tactics that glorify misogyny, greed, idolatry, promiscuity, and violence, you can expect some of those traits to subsist in the church as well if the proper follow through is not provided to new members. Romans 12:2 in the Bible also says, “…And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This is not an attack on hip-hop music, it is an attack on our principles and our innovation to lead [in the church]. We cannot be willing to bend and budge for the sake of accommodating. If we continue to, we will continue to witness false prophets, shamed congregrations, lethargic followers, and skeptical outsiders. I know my views are often not welcomed, but I pride myself on bringing “uncommon sense” since statistically only about 10% of our country is considered “under-educated” and we live in a democracy.

My plea to my religious family isn’t to get rid of Lacrae, Trip Lee, or Tedashii; nor is it to remove the edgy approach to win over world-minded believers. It is to say that we need to do better at hiding the medicine in the applesauce instead of exposing poison to the people. The church should be the originators of a style that has appeal to reach the “hip hop” crowd without leaning to the hip hop term for acceptance. It is for the church to continue to present itself as the frontrunners in setting the trends and norms for society not openly borrow methods from areas that could possibly care less about saving souls. The church shouldn’t need secular tactics, which under-mind Godly missions. Though I believe the church should adjust to the times to be effective, it shouldn’t aid the vile to be in existence. Doing so we cause the merits and purposes of the church to become watered down and ineffective to the souls that are in desperate need of religious renovation. However, this has been up for discussion by many, so it is your turn. How do you feel about Holy Hip-Hop, does it have its place or is it a disgrace?

Professor Devin

www.theblackinfrastructure.com

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2010 3:15 pm

    Very thoughtful and thought-provoking article, Devin. I’ll bet you get some strong comments on both sides of this issue!

  2. DEE COLLINS permalink
    November 30, 2010 4:00 pm

    Professor Devin, you have me fire hot with this article! I couldn’t disagree with you more! Your perspective is very carnal and lends nothing to the spirit of God, which is envoked through this music. Let me ask 1st, how many holy hip hop songs have you actually invested in and listened too before writing this article? 2nd, how spiritually open was your “spirit man” when listening? Were you listening in the flesh or were you listening with a spiritual ear? It makes a difference! Just like when reading the bible, which is not written for man in the flesh to understand but gains its true meaning through spiritual revelation, which means you have to be somewhat “like-minded” (for lack of better words) to receive. Many of those songs which I have listened too for some years and now have opened my son up to, have more deeper meaning in the words and minister to you clearer than some pastors in the pulpit! The tune only lends to some secular music because the church has to be able to reach young men and women in a “today’s generation voice” we wont reach the young people with old folklar “wade in the water” tunes. For some kids who have never seen the inside of a church, a “catchy tune” that sounds familiar yet speaks true words deeply rooted and grounded in the word, may be the only way they “tune in.” We have to stop and open our minds to new ways of learning the word and stop trying to hinder the work of God in ways other than the traditional. It doesn’t make it any less the word, if it is song through rap or hip hop. The bible says thats we shall “dance and sing” praises on to God & if your 12, “wade in the water” doesn’t envoke the spirit of dance through word. It also said that, “The Gospel will be spread throughout the world giving EVERY man (woman, boy, or girl) an opportunity to hear it. If old spirituals is not what will draw our kids interests to God but a familiar “catchy tune” will, who are you to promote that they “shouldn’t” receive the word in that way? The Catholic Church doesn’t do much clapping and dancing like the Baptist Church does and all churches don’t read/preach from the same versions of the bible and some shake, shout, run up & down the isle, some are just quite and reserved, and barely even hum a tune! Should we rule out some or all based on how they choose to parise and worship? I say, if there is a way to get the word out to the young people with a “catchy tune” then so be it, let them get the word in a way which is familiar to them! We all pray differently, worship different and praise differently, there should only be ONE under lining factor that we serve the ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD JESUS CHRIST and we believe that he is THE ONLY WAY!

  3. Monet permalink
    November 30, 2010 4:29 pm

    I get your point that the Church should have been the pioneers of a “new” genre even if it sounds similiar to an existing one but I dont feel Holy Hip Hop (HHH) as a whole is a disgrace. I have been a fan since the 1st time I heard a song back in 1997. Since then, I have heard and seen some questionable stuff in HHH but just like anything else I dont subscribe to, like in the Media, I turn it off! I dont agree with Dee that you [personally] are carnal and not of the spirit of God for sharing such a emotionally charged topic or your opinion. I think it makes for a good discussion because no matter what Christians opt to listen to we must stop being JUDGEMENTAL 1st then try to preach God’s love after it may fall on deaf ears; let God take charge there! Respectable dialogue is always healthy! Keep bringing the heat….

  4. melissa permalink
    November 30, 2010 5:42 pm

    I agree that the purpose of using hip hop in the church is to get the attention and bring people to the church. But if we are in the world and not of the world, we should not be trying to reach them in this worldly manner.
    I only ask that you take a listen to EX Ministries on this subject, then tell me what you think. Website, http://www.true-church.org/Site/Radio_Broadcast.html
    and EX Blog (http://gcraige.blogspot.com/search?q=hip+hop).

  5. December 2, 2010 3:58 am

    Any musical form of expression can be used to convey GOD’S message. The wisdom, infinite knowledge and direction from GOD comes to different people packaged in different ways. Hip-Hop is the most powerful and influential music genre on the planet. You can see its influence in everything around us. This did not happen by chance. This music tells of all the ills, troubles and evils of the society and world we live in. MCs are telling the world the truth about life the way they see it. What better way to promote GOD’S Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding than something that has the whole worlds attention? Listen to “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West and “Blessed are Those” by Killa Priest. These are Hip-Hop Gospel songs. Hip-Hop is VERY powerful. It should be used as a tool to teach whenever and wherever possible.

  6. Tanisha permalink
    December 2, 2010 3:14 pm

    I read your piece several times trying to sympathize with your points, but things just didn’t “click” for me. Personally, as a born-again Christian, aficionado of varied genres of music, and fan of [some] holy hip hop music, I just don’t see how the church is “aid[ing] the vile to be in existence”. Can you present illustrations or examples of actual churches that are, in fact, “using musical tactics that glorify misogyny, greed, idolatry, promiscuity, and violence”?

    As a man who is originally from the USVI, I’m sure you can remember the time when no self-respecting Christian could even THINK about listening to reggae, calypso and soca music. I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you how well-received those songs are now when sung with Christian lyrics. It’s quite common now to hear hymns like “How great thow art” and “I need thee” set to reggae and soca bass-lines during praise and worship in church services; yet, their messages are not diluted. How is it that genres developed to support the Rastafarian ideology and to ‘wuk-up’ in carnival are now reaching the Caribbean masses for Jesus?

    You referenced the Apostle Paul’s words “be not conformed to this world…”, and I agree that there are some instances where Christian artists have forgotten their place for the sake of the music. One such is Canton Jones, whose music I have been following since 2003 until this year. On his latest album “” he has a track called ‘Money Green’ in which he uses the ‘n-word’ and the term ‘faggit’ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxoTuzWQGGQ]; INEXCUSABLE for ANYONE who claims to be ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ, in my opinion. On the flip side, Paul also said that “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. ” [1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV].

    As far as I’m concerned, we must do whatever it takes to win the lost–but not compromise the basic principles that Christ has laid down for us as His disciples. And if that includes laying the gospel down on ‘boom-bap’ tracks, then so be it.

    • December 2, 2010 8:34 pm

      I like your response Tanisha, however my argument isn’t with the rhythm of the music. It is using the word “hip-hop” in its title. Yes, we have calypso and reggae themed gospel, but then again like I stated, we haven’t renamed those songs “Calypso Gospel” or “Reggae Gospel”. They are called Gospel. Take a clsoer look at the blog and you will see that I focus on Christians borrowing the term “hip-hop” and then using the antics from hip-hop to grab sinners. We can be “with” the people to help the help, but we cannot be “of” the people to save the people.

      • Tanisha permalink
        December 3, 2010 2:00 am

        Thanks for responding for clarification, Professor.

        First, there actually IS a thriving genre interchangeably known as “gospel reggae” or “reggae gospel”. If you don’t believe me, see here: http://gospelreggae.com/ ; http://dancehallgospel.com/ .

        Second, if your argument is simply against “Christians borrowing the term “hip-hop” and then using the antics from hip-hop to grab sinners”, I ask again, where are the concrete examples to support your claim? Which churches and/or which antics definitively raise a question about the [mis]use of of hip-hop for ministry?

      • Briana permalink
        January 6, 2011 6:57 pm

        I don’t think the term “hip hop gospel” has anything to do with attracting new members to the church. I think the term is used for business reasons. The term is for the customers who are looking to buy a particular style in gospel music. Like everything else we buy in this world, things has to be categorized. It makes it easily identifiable in the purchasing world. Maybe gospel music shouldn’t be up for sale then they wouldn’t need to classify it into various genres to appeal to various target audiences. Wouldn’t that then eliminate the need to categorize gospel music?

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