Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Love it or Hate it: Rap's Here to Stay, Part Two

Why do Christians place anyone in peril by outrightly rejecting rap? That might seem a bit alarmist, and it is (the whole preceding post is written under the influence of a heavy dose of glibness, so please note that; the whole matter is humorous to me, cause we evangelicals can make a huge deal of small things). That concession aside, any time Christians write off a whole category of anything, they threaten to rob themselves and their charges of material that can uplift, encourage, edify, and entertain them in a healthy way. Certain things need to be written off. But the dismissive discarding of whole genres, hobbies, interests, whatever they may be, smacks of the kind of careless, if seemingly pietistic, thinking Christians are sometimes prone to.

I could say alot about this; you can probably tell I'm a bit passionate about this, which means I have to laugh at myself a bit, too. Let me try to be productive and positive here: some of the best Christian songs that I've ever heard have been rap songs. I'll give you a couple examples. When I was young in my faith, I got a hold of a Cross Movement album, Human Emergency, and played it continuously. I had listened to alot of secular rap before finding this album and could scarcely believe that Christians made quality hip-hop (rap=hip-hop). This one song, "What Do You See?" by the Ambassador (Dallas Theological Seminary grad) exposited for five harrowing minutes the crucifixion of Christ. In exhaustive detail, gospel-focused content, and a passionate delivery, the Ambassador laid out the heart of the New Testament. He brought to life the atonement, and educated me in the process.

A second song to hit me very hard came at things from a different angle. Mars Ill's "Two Steps" tells the stories of three folks journeying through life, two despondent, one hopeful (the lead singer, incidentally). Way less mentions of God than in Cross Movement's material, but equally vivid storytelling and meaningful, life-impacting content. The song showed an attempt by professing Christians to see the world through the eyes of others. I found it exhilirating.

Thus you see very quickly two rap songs that have impacted me dramatically. There are many more. Know that, and know this: there are oodles of rap songs out there that will impact your kids and friends and that have little redeeming value. In the sad calculus of life, these are the songs your kids and friends will hear. You may not be able to prevent that; perhaps you shouldn't necessarily seek to do so. Whatever tack you take with cultural engagement, at least give those around you the opportunity to hear God-honoring music made by Christians. Much, not all, of it can help Christians in their spiritual life. If you're not persuaded by arguments that guitars and drums stem from dark, terrible places, and many aren't, thankfully, then why wouldn't you give your friends, peers, yourselves the opportunity to enjoy creativity expressed for God's glory?


Post a Comment

<< Home