Hip Hop has frequently been blamed and caricatured by the media. The overdose of anti-Hip Hop sentiment typically is shifted to the lyrical poison that is seen as the enemy of black advancement. Cash, cars and women are glorified, and impressionable men/women (who are most often black) fall hook, line and sinker…or so goes the storyline. But few media outlets have embraced the challenge of looking deeper into the complex struggle of right and wrong that has always been the invisible narrative of the culture.
News anchor Bill Weir recently waded into these deep waters on CNN Tonight in a 15-minute feature on the legendary Hip Hop group The Clipse. The duo of brothers (No Malice and Pusha-T) gave Weir an all-access pass into their rocky upbringing, street fame and artistic split as the reporter contrasted the good and evil of both rappers. Weir pressed Gene and Terrence about how they indulged in the “delicious spoils of their talent”, a lifestyle that Pusha still actively promotes. No Malice, no stranger to the Christian Hip Hop community, had a much different outlook, hesitating to even speak of his past in detail. “When I think about my infidelities…the heartbreak that I caused my wife, that I caused myself. When I think about her forgiveness, how the Word of God repaired us and nothing else. When I think about that; to me, it’s a no brainer. I can’t return to that lifestyle and that kind of way. I don’t have a choice.”
The elder brother’s stunning admission is not news to Christian Hip Hop but will definitely surprise others and clearly caught Weir off guard. “There’s no temptation at all to get back out there?” the reporter asked disbelievingly. “A Clipse reunion would be massive.” With pain and remorse in his face, No Malice dramatically replied, “Brother, that money, at one time, was out for my life. They can’t invent a dollar amount to get me out there… I’ve got enough blood on my hands” Clearly, the Malice that his fans knew and loved is dead.
At the same time, the old Pusha hasn’t encountered the same redemptive transformation. The video highlighted his still lavish lifestyle of magazine covers, clothing lines, famous connections and popular appearances. Pushing back at all of Pusha’s posessions, Weir asked a fascinating question, “Would he still be hero if his name weren’t ‘Pusha’?”, suggesting that his wealth directly flowed from his wickedness. Terrence’s answers were deflective. “Music itself has never made me do anything…I’m a great rapper first.” But clearly, that identity is no longer satisfying to his brother. When asked, “So, he (Malice) picked Jesus over you?”, the younger brother could only chuckle and reply “Yes, he did.”
In a society that regularly excuses entertainers from being role models, No Malice has made a confusing choice. Forsaking fame, fortune and even family is foolish to many on the outside looking in. But the rapper has discovered that his true identity is in Christ and no longer is satisfied by worldly possessions and pursuits. Gene has shown his family, his fans and now the world that Jesus is greater. And that’s a message worth applauding.