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OPEN LETTER: Christian Emcees are Disobedient Cowards?

Scott Aniol

You stated that music is a medium of communication and God does care about both what we say, and how we say it. To that, I say, Amen. This is precisely why a well written, God-honoring hip-hop song is sometimes the perfect remedy used by the Holy Spirit to save a dying soul—or can be the perfect vehicle to draw one’s thoughts nearer to God.

A Rapper Today Won’t Keep The Doctrine Away

When you said that some hip-hop is more doctrinally dense than some of your songs, I again find myself saying “Amen!”—at least to the first part, since I am not sure what your songs are and therefore cannot compare. The important part is that we agree that hip-hop has the ability to be doctrinally dense. This means we can set aside the lyrics and focus solely on the music. Unfortunately, none of you have given biblical criteria to determine what is holy and not holy about musical compositions.

I agree that scripture has been given to us in literary art forms such as ‘narrative’ (Eminem), ‘poetry’ (Saul Williams) and ‘parable’ (Slick Rick). Where I disagree is when you stated those forms should woodenly govern our art forms. The doctrine is Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) not Scripture Literary Art Forms Alone. Utilizing the literary art forms found in the Bible as a reference for the art forms that you want to create is important and opens up more possibilities than you seem to believe. I believe that biblical literary art forms actually pave the way for well-crafted hip-hop. In fact, the Old Testament contains everything we need to produce the best hip-hop in the world.

I am not prepared to agree or disagree that “very few will disagree with the cultural milieu” that hip-hop grew out of. I can tell you that I would be more comfortable hearing what the history or purpose of hip-hop is from an insider or expert. However, if you are correct—that we are unable to use hip-hop because of what it was intended for—and this is the basis on whether we’re qualifying or disqualifying something as a proper vehicle to worship God then a lot more than just hip-hop is in trouble.

Organic Music: No GMO. No Pesticides. No sin.

It sounds like you are arguing that a certain style has somehow been preserved or protected from the fall. Back in Genesis 3, we learn that sin infected everything—even the “stuff” that has made it to your acceptable list.

You mentioned that you’ve only heard one defense from these unspecified emcees to justify the use of hip-hop, and that was for the purpose of redeeming hip-hop. There are more. I would love to have you and your colleagues discuss this with folks outside of your circle.

You claim that when something is redeemed, there is a fundamental change. Besides the lyrics becoming “doctrinally dense”—which I would classify as a fundamental change—what else are you looking to change? What is hip-hop supposed to turn into after it has been allegedly redeemed? I have a few ideas. Just curious what yours are.

The picture that is starting to develop for me is a person who was born and raised in the United States and has never left the country. One day CNN shoves a microphone in this person’s face and asks them to speak on the cuisine in China. The person immediately begins unloading all of the information they have acquired from a few trips to Panda Express.

Finally, I wanted to say thank you for at least referring to hip-hop as an actual art form, and not reducing it to something less—simply because you don’t understand it or don’t agree with it. Believe it or not, little things like that can go a long way for a discussion like this.

Geoff Botkin

Do Not Be Confused By This Verse

Romans 12:2 does not disqualify hip-hop. I will stop there and trust you are able to discern good and bad hermeneutics. Perhaps the verse that follows right after may be more appropriate for our conversation:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.—Romans 12:3

A supernaturally provided understanding of the doctrines of grace does not produce arrogance. It humbles the individual into a better understanding of their own depravity, which exalts Christ and the cross.

I assume we would agree that Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder because that would mean beauty is subjective. I assume that we would agree that God is the standard for beauty, meaning there is a biblical standard. The problem was when you used your subjective opinion—or personal preference—to determine that hip-hop was not an “art form”. If you believe you have a biblical basis for your stance, you certainly didn’t use it during your contribution to the panel discussion. Worst of all, was when you started name calling like some shrill rapper. Actually, it reminded me of the worst that hip-hop has to offer.

You made several blanket statements about myself and some very close friends as well — as countless other people you have never meet. Rather than defend myself or an entire group of people, I’d rather ask you some questions:

  1. We think we’re serving God and we’re not
    • How do you know what we are thinking?
    • How do you know we are not serving God?
  2. We’re serving our own flesh
    • What is serving our own flesh?
    • How do you know we are doing this?
  3. We’re caving into the world
    • What is caving into the world?
    • How do you know we are doing this?
  4. We’re disobedient cowards
    • What are we disobeying?
    • Why are we cowards?
    • How do you know this?
  5. We’re not really willing to engage in the fight that needs to be engaged
    • What fight needs to be engaged?
    • What does engaging in this fight look like?
    • How do you know we are not willing?
  6. We’re making friends with the world and enemies of God
    • What is making friends with the world?
    • The Bible says we were once enemies of God, but we were reconciled through Jesus, How does one work towards being an enemy?
    • How do you know we are doing this?
  7. We’re following the world instead of changing it and confronting it in a cowardly way
    • What is following the world?
    • What is changing the world and confronting it?
    • What is a cowardly way?
    • How do you know we are doing this?

In my personal experience, hip-hop puts the Christian on the frontlines. It’s not for the faint of heart. No seriously, there have been times that some of us have felt our lives were in danger. I don’t want to put words in your mouth but it sounds like you are saying that you and the other panelists are not cowards and that you, have some music and other art forms that you could bring to Compton or The Bronx that would confront and turn those cities towards Jesus. Do you have examples of this—and music that would do this? If you haven’t already, do you plan to send people out to make disciples in urban areas?

Timothy J. Trudeau
Timothy J. Trudeauhttp://syntaxcreative.com/
Timothy J. Trudeau began his professional journey in the music business in 1997. Since then, he’s produced for GRAMMY-awarded artists, designed Stellar-nominated artwork, ran a label with Dove-nominated artists, and started a distribution company with clients who’ve won all three.


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