It is true that in the Indonesian culture when a person has suffered or endured great misfortune, they can change their name to another. The belief is that in so doing he will confuse the evil spirits that have brought on the misfortune and things will turn to the good. And while you know this to be quite silly and perhaps superstitious, you cannot help but wonder at the implications. You wonder at the possibility of a name carrying such potential, such power.
In Christian scripture, quite often a persons name was where their identity lay, and it often eluded to a particular duty or calling. A persons name often held significance in how they were built and in who they were to become. Abram, a zealous king who walked blamelessly and shared a covenant with his Lord, was upgraded to Abraham when it was decided that he would become the father over nations. His favor from then on was held in an even greater esteem than it had been before.
Let us not be fooled, Hip Hop is a culture, one with enormous influence on mass populations and people groups. And cultures, because they are comprised of so many different parts, have conflict. However, without conflict there is no growth. Without conflict the process of weeding out cannot take place. Now, I am not trying to intellectualize a simple idea but rather peer at the current state of the genre and wrestle with the possibility of where it might be headed. The truth is Hip Hop seems to be in an identity crisis.
People always talk about the future of Hip Hop. But if you look back at its inception, roughly thirty years ago, you will see trends. As with anything worth noting, there has been growth, evolution in the culture. Not to mention how many jobs have been created due to its overwhelming influence and ability to generate revenue. But one thing that has never changed is the unceasing promotion of self in the music itself. And while I would never attempt to refute or deny the entertainment value of a good emcee battle, the fact remains: Hip Hop has a love hate relationship with itself.
So where does that leave the artist who has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, the artist who feels a tug in his spirit to participate in the movement and be a vessel of change? I believe each artist must decide that for himself. He must carve himself out a path from the broken gravel and work tirelessly, unwaveringly pursuing his Maker and presenting himself naked before a world that hungers. Most of all, he must know his own name. He must know who he is and for what he has been built, looking beyond the scathing voices and critical eyes to a place where his identity truly lay. And even as I write, with the moon breaking through the large window and my son at my heels, this is what feeds me.
“ There are no real personalities outside of God. Until you have given your self to Him you will not have a real self.” -CS Lewis