Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Like Christian Rap...A Lot...So What?

Anyone who regularly visits my Facebook page already knows that, more often than not, I don't actually put anything relevant about myself or my life in my status updates. Instead, I prefer to pepper my page with stupid celebrity quotes, thought-provoking or amusing things thought up by great thinkers, or memorable and meaningful lyrics from songs that I like.

Of the latter category, the majority of my lyrics quoted are from Christian rap songs. That's because Christian rap, or "holy hip-hop" (not a huge fan of that term), or gospel rap – whatever you may choose to call it – is the genre of music that I listen to the most.

Admitting this – and, by the way, I'm not ashamed of it – is sure to make me unpopular with some of my fellow Christians. Why is that? Because, apparently, a lot of believers simply cannot fathom that a style of music that is often used by the world to promote drug use, immoral behavior, and other debauchery can also be used by Bible-believing Christians to make theologically solid music with God-honoring lyrics that can point the lost to Christ. But it can.

I have been listening to Christian rap for about three years now. I have discovered a plethora of artists and groups that, I wholeheartedly believe, seek to honor God in their music, seek to win souls for Christ through their songs, and seek to make disciples for Christ by the inspirational – and often taken directly from Scripture – lyrics that they write. I have been encouraged, uplifted, and oftentimes challenged by what I have heard.

At the same time, I have been discouraged, disappointed, and disheartened by some of my fellow believers' response to my choice of music. Most simply don't understand. What is the appeal? And, can I really relate to everything the songs talk about?

The appeal is both in the message and in the music. I've already covered the message. Let's talk about the music. Back in my late teens, I was, for a time, a big fan of secular rap music. This was back when MTV still played music videos, and I would watch them nonstop. I even knew all the words to the popular rap songs. But then I started to realize that a lot of the things that were talked about in the songs, and a lot of the images I saw in the videos, were not things that a Christian young man should be hearing about or looking at. So I stopped listening to it.

I completely switched gears, and started listening to Christian pop/rock – which was and is still good – but I still missed the style of music I had left behind. At the time, there were hardly any Christians making rap music, and most of the ones who were weren't really any good.

About three years ago, I rediscovered my love for rap music when I heard about and began listening to current Christian rappers like Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Flame. Christian rap had come a long way in a short time, and it was worth listening to. And so I did. And so I do.

Back to that other question: Can I really relate to everything the songs talk about? Short answer: No. First of all, unlike the majority of the rappers that I listen to, I am white. I did not grow up in the projects with an absent father and a single mom who worked all the time. I did not sell drugs on the corner from the time I was a young tyke. I have never even experienced what you could call "hard times" of any kind. So, no, I cannot relate to everything in the songs. But I can relate to the messages of discipleship, respecting authority, compassion, uplifting your brothers and sisters in the faith, and I can surely relate to the message of the gospel.

So, for anyone out there who would like to debate me on whether or not there is even any such thing as Christian rap, or whether or not Christians should be listening to rap in any form, or anything like that, I will respectfully decline to participate. It really doesn't matter to me whether you like or approve of what I'm listening to, no more than it matters to you what I might think of whatever you listen to. Let's agree to disagree and just skip the arguments.   :)

If you are ever interested in listening to theologically sound, God-honoring music – that just happens to be rap – allow me to offer you my recommendations. You can check them out on YouTube or iTunes or Facebook or Myspace or Amazon or wherever you go to listen to and buy your music.

My favorites are (in no particular order):

Trip Lee
Sho Baraka
Yaves (The Street Pastor)
Young Joshua

There's many more that I could recommend, but these will get you started.

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