It seems this title and this article definitely stirred up some emotion in a lot of people. Some are sad to see it die, some are happy, and some even seem to be upset that were just talking about it. Well why are we talking about it? Why it is a topic of discussion? It seems this title and this article definitely stirred up some emotion in a lot of people. Some are sad to see it die, some are happy, and some even seem to be upset that were just talking about it. Well why are we talking about it? Why it is a topic of discussion? Many of us reading this have a passion to reach those influenced by hip-hop with the truth of Christ. Overall yes, its a spiritually dead culture as it speaks a lot of death. But, many of us are all about speaking life as we point people to the true creator. So, if you fall in that category it is important that we are aware of whats going on in the environment of this group of people were trying to reach.
A great example of this in scripture is when my man Paul went to Athens (Acts 17). As he looked around the city and saw all the idols and the worship of other Gods he got really upset. It was like a holy anger that was burning inside of him. I know some of us can look around at hip-hop and get angry at all the garbage thats being spit. Even from a non-spiritual standpoint I sometimes get embarrassed at mainstream hip-hop as its so non-intelligent and elementary when I tell people Im a hip-hop artist they can quickly me in the category with all those other cats ahh! It can be frustrating but back to Paul. What did Paul do? Did he go out in the streets and go off and get judgmental? No he observed. Acts 17:17-18 says, And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through those conversations. (MSG) He was building with cats and seeing where they were at with their spirituality. As he gathered information and spent time in prayer he got ready to relevantly present the truth. A couple days later thats exactly what he did.
Paul stepped to the spot (The Areopagus) where the masses were chillin and politicking. They didnt have cable, they didnt have the Internet and they didnt have the news so this place is where a lot of new information was given. Acts 17:22 breaks down what happened where Paul began to speak, It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS. Im here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who youre dealing with. (MSG) My man Paul was peaking their curiosity and speaking their language. Now, they were hanging on the edge of their seats wanting to know who this God was. I encourage you to read the details of the chapter. Later in the passage he even quoted one of their poets as they said a line referring to the creator. I believe if this was today – Paul might quote a hip-hop artist. He pulled out that nugget of truth and built on it, as it was a familiar quote to the audience he was speaking to. Some believed that day, some wanted to hear more later, and some were made uncomfortable and walked away. But, thats what the gospel does its our job to present it in a relevant way, and its up to Gods spirit to work in peoples hearts. We cant make it happen. But, we can do our part and be students of culture and be sensitive to Gods spirit. As we are students there is a fine line we must walk as we must remember were in the culture but not of it. We should never promote the negative things of the culture or partner with them. Believers need to be more careful with this as sometimes we want to be so relevant that we end up looking just like them and doing the same stuff they do then we have no effect at all except maybe a negative one! Remember the scripture tells us we are supposed to be set apart and distinct in our character and in our lifestyle.
So as we desire to reach this culture we must also observe whats on with it. On June 14th I was on tour in Texas and as I walked out of my hotel room I picked up the USA Today newspaper on the floor and saw the front-page story about hip-hop. Those I was touring with had just had a conversation about this the night before and then here it was front page. The article stated hip-hop sales had dropped 33% this year so far. It echoed many of the things I shared in the first article. Now, some could look at this and say, Oh man, hip-hop is about to be done you should look to do some other type of ministry. Hip-Hop may be declining in several ways, but if you read between the lines and also look at the charts its influence is not as dead as some may say. This is something we need to be aware of. The number one ring tone of the year (by far) is by hip-hop artist Mims. No other song came even close to the over 2 million ring tones hes sold. But, his album has been out for several months and its sold less than 250,000 copies. What does that tell you? Times are changing. People arent buying albums much anymore. Ask a teenager when the last time they bought a CD was? Most of them just buy a song on itunes. Some of us reading this still love our CDs but the digital era is growing every day, and many people dont want the whole album anymore. They just want that hot song or that hot ringtone.
Speaking of digital the number one song this summer on itunes has been by Rihanna Umbrella featuring Jay-Z. Technically its not listed as a hip-hop song, but it has a hip-hop artist on it rapping. Some consider this quasi hip-hop/R&B and that stuff is still all over the charts as you see artists like Fergie and Gwen Stefani doing hip-hop influenced songs with hip-hop artists on the regular. If you check out the Billboard Hot 100 (July 15th) youll see that 7 out of the top 10 songs have a hip-hop/R&B sound to them although only 3 are straight hip-hop. Im not out there buying this stuff and supporting it, but I am checking out the trends to see whats going on and whats happening, and as I check that out I can see that hip-hop still has an influence its still here. As I stated earlier, I believe overall it is a spiritually dead culture so that why many of us are here to be vessels for God to use to speak life and point them to Christ. So, I encourage you to take Pauls example: observe, pray, and speak truth. As we do this in a relevant engaging way well see Gods spirit begin to bring people to life.