Should Christians listen to gospel rap

Gangster rap for God

Star rapper Kendrick Lamar prays on his current album "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City ":" Lord God, I come to you as a sinner and humbly repent of my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord and that you raised Him from death. ”He then raps about how he gets into the car and makes his way to Sherane, an acquaintance who wants to sleep with. Later he drinks to the point of unconsciousness and takes hard drugs. When Lamar goes overboard, he knows he's doing something wrong. He raps: “I am a sinner who will probably sin again. God forgive me! "

Lamar's CD is about a young man who prays to God, who wrestles with himself and his life in the bad neighborhood. It's about a man who sins, asks for forgiveness, who sins again, asks for forgiveness again, who is baptized - but in the end everything stays the same. Biography and fiction intersect in the texts, the 26-year-old Lamar often leaves open what is reality and what is invention.

"Have I done enough to get to heaven?"

Lamar's home town of Compton is known for wars between the gangs "Bloods" and "Crips". The Californian city south of Los Angeles is considered one of the most dangerous places in the United States. There are shootings every day, people keep dying. Lamar lost his uncle to such violence. He was killed in the Louis Burger fast food restaurant in Compton. Lamar raps about it. The fear of being murdered myself, but also the question “Have I done enough to get to heaven?” Run through the entire CD.

The Christian US rapper Shai Linne dealt critically with the album, which was released at the end of last year, in an essay. For him, what Lamar lives is not a real belief. In his contribution “What Christian Hip Hop can teach Kendrick Lamar”, Linne takes a sharp point with his colleague: “The album is bursting with blasphemy and is sometimes extremely drastic in its sexualized imagery.” Linne complains that the album is a development Lamar's ad, from his teenage years to his "awakening" at the end of the album, he says, ultimately, he doesn't change his lifestyle. “I don't think Kendrick Lamar is a Christian, so I don't expect him to act like one,” concludes Linne.

Lamar: "I am a sinner"

Lamar said in a previous MTV interview, “I wouldn't say I'm the most religious person, including my parents. I always do these 'religious' songs or whatever you want to call them from the point of view from which I am trying to find answers. "He says he is not a person who puts people on their minds," Believe that , believe that, believe that. "He experiences a lot of things and these he deal with in the texts:" I am a sinner and I try to get to know myself. That doesn't sound like a preacher. ”He says he doesn't just speak for himself, but for thousands of people. “I can't read the Bible back and forth and back and forth. I'm still looking and trying to discover myself like everyone else. "

The American rapper Jayceon Terrell Taylor, known under the name "The Game", also fills his lyrics with religious words. He released an album in December that featured Jesus as a gangster on the cover. The cover picture of the CD "Jesus Piece" caused a stir in the hip-hop world: some thought it was brilliant, others blasphemous. In an interview with the American radio station “Hot 93.7”, he explains what “The Game” thought of showing Jesus as a gang member: “I call the album 'Jesus Piece' because I was baptized in August last year and I was now go to church. "

"The Game": "I still love strip clubs"

The rapper is said to have been a member of the street gang "Bloods". He imagines his life as a Christian as follows: “I want to smoke, maybe take a quick shower and then go to church, hear the word, go out of church, maybe smoke again and maybe go to one or two strip clubs, but I do don't want me to be ridiculed for it. "

This is exactly what Linne criticizes in his essay: “Of course that's what people think about Christianity in America today. A Christianity so convenient that it could just as easily be in a strip club as it is in a church. A Christianity with no real repentance. A Christianity that makes someone repeat the words of a prayer but that doesn't really change their life. While popular, it is a wrong view of what it means to be saved. "

"Christianity has weight in society"

Monica R. Miller is a lecturer at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon and the author of Religion and Hip Hop. She says viewers should stop seeing hip hop through the glasses of Christianity. Rappers should be seen more as products of their own environment. In an interview with the “Christian Post” Miller explains: “I think that rappers use Christian terms, ideas and resurrection stories.” Many of these artists wear a “Jesus Piece”, a chain with a Jesus pendant. The musician "The Game" even named his current album afterwards. According to Miller, the reason for this is that this “story” is selling well. “Christianity has immense political, social and cultural weight in society. So if you want to sell a particular human idea or concept of yourself, what better way is there than to define yourself through Christian history? "

The argument shows that not all texts that deal with God, Jesus and faith also contain a message that conforms to the Bible. Ultimately, it depends on the artist himself and his attitude. In hip hop there is a category called "Christian Hip Hop" or "Holy Hip Hop". One of the best-known representatives of the division is Lecrae. He said in an interview with “Hard Knock TV”: “To be honest, I'm not a fan of these names. It's hip hop. Hip Hop should be given a chance. Everyone comes from a certain direction and has a certain worldview. I am a christian. But my music is not Christian. She has no faith. I have faith. ”This belief can be heard in his music. "But I don't like it when people try to categorize, because [...] people think in advance that they know what I'm going to talk about, but that's not true."

Categorization or not: Shai Linne sums up three things that rappers like Kendrick Lamar can learn from the content of Christian hip hop: First, who Jesus really is: alive and present in everyday life. Second, who we really are: sinful without God, we cannot become good alone, but only through Jesus. Third, what it really means to be a Christian: “God has redefined us. That is what rebirth is all about. […] We do not call the good bad and the bad not good, or we boast of malice. Now we are by God's side and against our sins. We changed the team. "(Pro)

This article is from the 1/2013 issue of the Christian media magazine pro. Order pro free of charge by calling 06441/915151, by email to [email protected] or online.