Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday's Yearly Rap-Up - December 27, 2013 - A Defense of Christian Hip Hop

As the year comes to an end, I have noticed my drop-off in Friday's Weekly Rap-Up entries (It became more like a "Friday's Semi-Monthly Rap Up"). But, at the end of the year, there is a reason to celebrate and reflect on the gift that music is for the Christian, and the Church as a whole. There are many men and women who produce quality, scripturally-centered hip-hop, which allows Christians to learn, and to be encouraged and built up in their faith.

Many great things happened in the world of Christian hip-hop, including the release of many mainstream albums, such as Derek Minor's Minorville and Lecrae's Church Clothes Volume 2. Both of these albums continue to allow Christians to be salt and light in the normally dark world of hip-hop.

Without a doubt, one of the most interesting moments came in late November, when the National Center for Family Integrated Churches held a worship conference, where a panel discussed the merits of Christian, and more distinctly, Reformed hip-hop. It did not go well. The answers of the panels ruffled the feathers of many within the Christian community, both young and old, and black and white. It was clear that a continued dialogue needed to be had, and that there were many misconceptions about the Christian hip-hop genre. Panelist Geoffrey Botkin (who has since apologized) went as far as to call Christian rappers "disobedient cowards" and most panelists seemed to expose themselves as being fairly inexperienced in the form of Christian hip-hop, aside from Toby Mac (who is on the fringe of the Reformed hip-hop scene at best). The entire panel discussion was taken down, but there are some clips of it below. It was not an instance that built up the body of Christ, and only helped to raise more questions.

Nonetheless, what followed was a thorough discussion between panelists and hip-hop artists, producers and supporters. The best may be the response from Rapzilla's Philip Rood. Rapper Shai Linne also has engaged with Scott Aniol, one of the panelists, in a discussion about Christian rap. The introduction is here, followed by many days worth of questions and rebuttals. Folks at the Gospel Coalition also weighed in, complete with reactions from all over the country and from various denominations. Finally, many panelists have issued apologies and clarifications regarding their comments.

It was refreshing to see the reaction of the hip-hop community, with an eagerness to seek clarification from the panelists, instead of seeking their condemnation, and for the panelists and those unfamiliar with Christian hip-hop, to desire to learn about the motives and ministry of Christian rappers.

As someone who frequently listens to Christian rap, and has learned a great deal about the Lord and His character through the medium of Christian rap, I am glad to see clarification sought by those who originally had disparaging remarks for Christian rap. Having once listened to a great deal of secular rap, I was attracted to the form of hip-hop, and found a great deal of comfort in a familiar art form. Much is the same in college athletic ministry. Having previously taken Christ and my faith for granted, the encouragement and ministry of those within college athletics, and specifically college basketball, helped foster an appreciation and love for the gospel. However, as much as I search, nowhere is the athletic form of basketball found in scripture. This is analogous to the question of hip-hop in ministry. Many have benefited from Christian hip-hop, and many have been exposed to doctrine and scripture. Many rappers address weighty topics in songs that are saturated with scripture, and bring a challenge of the light of the Lord in what is normally a rather dark hip-hop picture. For that, we can be thankful.

Finally, here is a list of the 30 most downloaded songs on Rapzilla this year. Check out some tunes. Happy New Year.