There are a couple of things that I have learned about many of the Dead End Hip Hop fans. First, they dislike me. Wait… let me scratch that. According to the comments on the webisodes I was featured in, they hate me.
It’s OK, I can deal with it. The reason why they dislike me so much is the fact that I’m a huge Christian rap, or ‘Holy hip hop,’ fan. I will be honest and transparent, I do listen to more than just holy hip hop though (you can actually see me on the Big Sean Finally Famous review and the Casual The Hierophant review). With that said, I try to bridge the gap at times for the genre on the show/site. After the Church Clothes review, the crew and I delved more on the subject of the “christian artist title” issue. We talked about how it is going to be a bigger issue with the break out of Lecrae being accepted into mainstream hip hop.
We were right.
XXL did a brief write-up on Lecrae, and Ambassador (a pioneer of holy hip hop) wrote a very informative open letter to XXL in response to the write-up. Some people may have not read it or care, but this was a huge “line drawn in the cement” within the holy hip hop community. Some rallied — and some ranted — towards the letter. But, at the end of the day… did Ambassador make a small solution or a XXL mistake?
Ambassador makes some very valid points in this letter. The world is simply not going to accept the message of Jesus Christ, so holy hip hop artists shouldn’t try to “appease” regular hip hop fans. Ironically, it’s fine if Muslims, 5 Percenters, Buddhists, Atheists or even Satanists speak on their beliefs within their lyrics, but if Christians do it… it’s too preachy. It’s a double standard that holy hip hop artists have to deal with regarding this issue.
Holy hip hop speaks against 99.9% of what’s heard on the radio and videos aired on TV. Therefore, acceptance is going to be very limited. One key verse in the bible is Luke 9:26, which states “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.“ With that stated, it goes against the rules to be ashamed to be called a Christian rapper, or a Holy hip hop artist.
On the other hand, many people feel that this debate only inserts a wedge between the holy hip hop community. Many artists in this genre catch heat for having hidden agendas. As I stated in the” Is Christian Rap Relevant” webisode, there are several styles within the genre. The two that fight the most are the pastoral versus evangelical artists. With that being said, the majority of Evangelic artists that reach out to the world have a bigger fan base and make more money.
Therefore, when many profusely christian artists (not necessarily taking shots, Ambassador) bring it up, they are really just jealous. Many Holy hip hop artists feel as if they get lumped in with overly preachy, “pastoral” artists and want recognition as lyrical artists. Within many of their minds, it’s about reaching the souls and meeting the people where they are. Many artist feel that they are not defined by the label placed upon them, but how they impact the lives of their fans.
I don’t expect one post to end this debate. It is possibly going to put more gasoline onto the fire. One thing I will do is offer final thoughts from Myke C-town (I know what you’re thinking… “of all people, C-town???!!?!”).
After we got finished with the Church Clothes review, we continued talking. One of the things that he said (and has stated in many other reviews) was that he was attracted to any artist as long as they were honest and stuck to their beliefs, even if he doesn’t agree with their point of view. I think more artist need to realize that revelation. It all boils down to transparency.
Fans, Christian or otherwise, will respect an artist for having a transparent message. When you look at one of the reasons why Jesus was so influential, it came down to his honest, sometimes brutal transparency.
So the next time you grip the mic, whether you have holy in front of your hip hop title or not, keep it transparent and honest. Can I get an Amen? Spread The Soup.