This may come as no surprise, but rappers and musical artists aren't always worth as much as they claim. I saw an interesting graphic from Business Week that depicted the actual net worth of a select few rappers and musical artists, compared to their actual net worth. (This graphic has been criticized for its accuracy, but it does a good job helping explain this larger issue.) The research seems a bit suspect, as it estimates each artist's wealth based on lyrical content, and the boasting of the artist. It should make us ask ourselves though, "How honest are any of these artists?" I'm afraid that too many of us, and too many younger, more impressionable kids, get caught up in these claims of success, money, lifestyle and luxury.
This graphic was created in response to an article regarding some of the lyrical content of Jay-Z's song Versus, which will be featured on his forthcoming Magna Carta album. Rolling Stone featured a story linking Jay-Z's claims to the BusinessWeek graphic. In actuality, Jay-Z is actually one of th more honest artists out there, actually earning near what he says he does. Jay-Z is more skeptical about the financial claims of others artists.
Demarco Castle, once rapping under the name Gemini, and now known as GemStones, is a rapper from the south side of Chicago. He worked his way up through the rap scene, gaining some notoriety after performing with Lupe Fiasco and being signed to Lupe's record company. I won't pretend like I know the background of all of this, but in an interesting article with Rapzilla in 2010, GemStones is quite candid with his past, and shares his acceptance of Christ and how it changed his musical pursuits.
The larger questions that we must look at in this case, are whether or not we can take these artists for their word in how they portray themselves, and more importantly, whether others can trust us to genuinely portray ourselves. Artists unashamedly put their worth and self-value in material things, most notably money and relationships. As Christians, we must hold fast to the fact that we receive immeasurable riches in Christ.
As Sojourn continues to work its way through the book of Ephesians, we are reminded of the riches we inherit through a life in Christ. This is not a physical richness, but that of peace, unity, freedom from the penalty of sin, and eternity in bringing God glory. Let us be reminded of Paul's letter to the Ephesian church.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7, ESV)Gemstones was honest about his status and experiences. He realized he was dead in sin, but would be made alive in Christ. It is this humility that can lead others to see the richness of life in Christ. That is something that I admire and hope encourages others that can wield testimony of Christ within a celebrity culture. In Christ, we do not need to live lives claiming to be someone that we are not. We can be confident that the Lord will redeem, renew and resurrect our lives to himself.
I first learned about GemStones through Rapzilla's listing of the top 30 free albums of 2012. Immediately, the Adele-inspired Fire In My Heart stuck with me, but the furiously-paced track stuck with me even more after understanding the lyrics and their origin. From what I can gather, it is GemStones' honesty and conviction that moved him to produce Elephant In The Room, calling attention to the lies and inaccurate portrayal of lifestyles of those in the rap game. Many times, the same can be said for how we carry out our own lives. Let's ask ourselves, what is our elephant in the room?
Be sure to grab GemStones' Elephant in the Room album from the Rapzilla site here, as well as his latest single, God Is My Rock.