Friday, January 20, 2006

I'm Hearing VOICE's

Back in September 2005 I recommended the rap the music of Shai Linne. I think Shai Linne is trying to accomplish a very difficult and maybe impossible task, making the rap genre a Christ-centered, God-exulting vehicle of the gospel of sovereign grace. Therefore, I commend Shai and all those so committed. Another such brother has recently come to my attention. His name is Curtis Allen a.k.a Voice. His rap CD is called Progression. On it he seeks to lay down rap lyrics and music that are theologically accurate and grace infused. Admittedly, I want to be careful in my recommendaton of rap music. While it is at one level encouraging to see reformed brothers using the medium of rap to dissimenate the gospel, rap does not readily lend itself as a medium of worship. Rap my nature is hedonistic and narcissitic. Those who are the most successful are those who are the most hedonistic and narcissitic. One of the aspects that I appreciate about Voice's album is that he readily admits this in his cut All Rap Is:
All rap is, is the lust of the flesh that is easily seen through drugs and sex.
All rap is, is the lust of the eyes, almost any video can help you realize that,
All rap is, is the boasting of what he has and does from how we live to MTV cribs.
I ain't hatin' but to me rap's the glorification of what led Christ to propitiation.
So, when I recommend a rap artist, as I did with Shai Linne and as I do so with Voice, I must offer this important caveat. There is a difference between worship and Christian entertainment. I know the lines are often blurred and too many of our churches are nothing more than Sunday morning's poor imitation of Saturday evening's juke-joints, or concert halls. Nevertheless, there is a necessary distinction between worship and entertainment, which we must maintain. Christian rap has entertainment value for those so inclined to be entertained. Yet, its worship value is at best questionable, if at all possible. Yet, Shai Linne, and now Voice are seeking to find that illusive place where rap entertainment gives way to worship. Is it possible to find? Maybe. Maybe not. Then again, maybe we should not even ask them to do that. Maybe we should just appreciate it for what it is, brothers seeking to glorify God with their talents and encouraging others to do the same. If that is their end, then let me say, "I am encouraged and challenged!" Keep it up, keep it real, and keep it glorifying Christ.

By the way, the cut Maybe is pretty good too:

Maybe you're not one who trusts in God
And maybe you think that life is too hard
And maybe you think faith is what you do
Well maybe, just maybe, its not about you.

4 comments:

curtlove said...

Carter
That brother sounds pretty good. have you heard any lyrics from Redeemded Thought

" I will create no creation that crosses out my creator, who crossed out sin on the cross, and cross the finish line as saviour"

Elizabeth Plewniak said...

Tony,

In many respects, I agree with this post. I love Curtis's new cd, I'm a Shai Linne fan, and listen primarily to 2 kinds of music....worship cd's and hip-hop (don't laugh too hard). I often find that the content of the hip-hop is more worshipful than some of the worship cd's I listen to.

You are probably thinking, get some new worship cds. But, some of these rap cds have great, God-glorifying, Christ centered lyrics. They are often packed full of scripture and when I get done listening, I'm edified and encouraged. That seems worshipful. It seems like "worship music" should be centered on the content, not style. Would you agree? What are your thoughts?

ajcarter said...

Hey Mike,
So good to hear from you. I agree with you. Bad music crosses all genres and knows no respect of artists :-).

As you may know, I enjoy worship and enjoy discussing various contents and forms for worship. Therefore, I enjoy various forms of worship music. While I am not a regular listener to rap, I will listen on occassion, particularly if I am asked to listen. Admittedly, there are good hymns and bad hymns. There are good choruses and bad choruses. There is good rap and bad rap. However,
that which is good must have appropriate content and style. It is not content over style, nor style over content. It is content and style. For example, when we are told to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15; cf. Col. 4:6), we are told to make sure we have God-glorifying content (truth) but also have God-honoring style (love). In other words, style speaks as does content. Therefore, I am struggling to discover what the style of rap is saying. I understand the content (most of the time :-) is God-glorifying, but I am seeking to understand if the style is God-honoring. I am not ready to simply ignore the form just to embrace the content. Christianity is both form and content. For we are called to be Christians not only in content, but in character (form). I am sure you know this because one of the aspects of Sovereign Grace that I most admire is how the emphasis in leadership is not only in content of theology, but also in the character of the theologian, indeed even in the style with which he speaks and lives. Should we ask any less of our music in worship?

Bear with me, my brother. I am exercising faith seeking understanding. I really do respect the talents of guys
like Curtis and Shai, and I appreciate what they bring to
the Kingdom. Nevertheless, I have not yet moved to the place where their music could find a place in a worship service, though in the car they are quite encouraging and
uplifting.

Exercising and Seeking,

Tony

mondoshiggo said...

If you like Shai Linne, then you should check out the Crossmovement Label/stable of Artist. Shai did some things with an artist there named Flame who touts the 1689 LBF as his statement of Faith in one of his songs-Sola Scriptura.

Also, one of the founding members of The Crossmovement-The Ambassador-has a website dedicated to redeeming the culture of Hip-Hop versus glorifying the ills of it.

I consider this band of brothers growing in the right direction.