Unity is Dead. Long Live Unity!
Unity is dead. It’s obvious right? Unity in the Christian Hip-Hop movement, culture, circle or whatever you want to call it is deceased. Let’s get the tombstone made and let it read “Here lies Unity. She never really had a chance.” It would be an honest assessment of Unity’s life cycle in our scene, too. She never really had a chance. And how could she have had a chance when everyone’s expectation of Unity created an atmosphere that she just couldn’t breathe in. She died of asphyxiation, strangled to death by outrageous expectations. We expected her to get everyone to agree with… well… EVERYONE, even when they fundamentally disagreed on their methods. We expected her to get artists with completely different ideas, musical styles and audiences to make albums together even if it made no musical sense, ideological sense or marketing sense at all. We expected her to convince Tunnel Rats and Cross Movement to do a world tour together despite the fact they’re core audiences are COMPLETELY different “for the sake of the kingdom.” Then we beg her to help convince those same audiences to stop throwing shots at Ambassador and Jurny Big for going to an amusement park together. We pound our chests loudly and tell the artists and fans that we need to elevate the quality standards in our scene. We expected Unity to get Lecrae to do the Jesus Muzik remake to a Sup the Chemist beat. Then we tell Unity that she has to be the one to convince Humble Beast that they HAVE to work with Swaggerific Skillz Ministries despite their incredibly low quality work because “its all about Unity.” We told Unity she has to get every artist together to work together because THAT’S what Unity is. We told her that her identity was not in Christ, we told her that her identity was found in rappers doing songs together even if they never see each other, meet each other, pray together or eat a meal together. Unity is dead. And in that type of environment, she never had a chance.
Long live Unity. Unity is living and THRIVING in the world of Christian Hip-Hop today. She’s alive because she is in Christ. She is alive when Humble Beast does a show and not one “116” tattoo is in the room because she has united the movements in the one aim they share – seeing Christ magnified. When we tried to make Unity about US, she reminds us ever so subtly that its about Christ. We tried to make it about us doing stuff together so people can see it. She showed us its about Christ when, at a time when no one was looking, she was present as people from opposing views prayed, ate and became friends behind the scenes. We wanted it to be about names on marquees so we can say “We did it!” But she stayed behind the scenes magnifying Christ in actions as people with different lanes like Fedel and Json became friends playing Monopoly and encouraging one another. When we wanted to make CHH into our own little Tower of Babel, she reminds us to go out and minister to our corners of the world and as we stay united with CHRIST, we are truly united together.
If we’re REALLY honest with each other, most of the time collaborations have little to do with unity and more times than not have more to do with exposure to different audiences for sales. Jesus NEVER said “they’ll know you for the collaborations you’re artists do together.” He said “they’ll know you for the LOVE you have for one another.” Now, don’t get me wrong there ARE some things that can be done that strengthen Unity as she just seeks to make much of the One she unites with. None of them really have anything to do with doing a song though. Unity would be strengthened by artists actually showing up to shows in their city when they AREN’T scheduled to perform and being front row hype instead of doing the arms folded “I’m hotter than them” pose. Unity would be strengthened by, in your own private time, actually praying for artists you don’t know or maybe even agree with. (Think about the pressure a dude like Lecrae and a dude like Sho Baraka MUST be under. Talk about needing prayer?!) “But Thi’sl didn’t respond to my request to do a feature!” Ok…and? He doesn’t know you. You hit him up about a collaboration (probably because 1. you think he’s dope and, 2. you think he’ll expand your reach. Be honest.) How about you hit him up to just say “Hi. I would love to connect with you bro. No music, just kick it.” If you can’t do that, then I’d question YOUR love and YOUR desire for unity before I question his for not responding to your request for a collaboration.
Maybe the average CHH listener sees their favorite artists not doing music together and think “we need unity!” But I challenge you to look behind the marquee. Look behind the “featuring (insert favorite rapper/singer here).” You may not see artists working together on a song, but they’re working together on prayer. They’re working together on presenting CHRIST to world who needs Him. Let’s not confuse Unity being absent when someone is simply using discretion. They may not think its a good time to collab on record together. Don’t you have friends that whom you love that you’d NEVER do business with? Maybe they don’t respond to people who spam their Twitter and Facebook timelines with “check out my new music” if they don’t know you. Maybe they just plain old don’t like the music. Maybe its a ton of other reasons OTHER than they lack unity. Maybe you don’t see them collaborate publicly, but in the privacy of their homes, when their kids play together, when they’re at Friday’s eating potato skins after Flavor Fest, when they’re at Giordano’s in Chicago after Legacy Conference, when they escape the hoopla of most “Christian Award Shows” and they’re just playing Monopoly or Mafia together just establishing friendships NOT based on the music they do but based on the God they serve – their actions scream out “LONG LIVE UNITY!!!”