In this series I will examine and answer the following questions:
What we can say to begin with is that this is a very controversial subject matter and often the proponents of hip-hop, both outside and within the church, are so committed to it that they would rather continue their love for it, and reverential treatment of its icons, to such an extent that to preach against it automatically evokes anger and disdain. For those of us who are spiritually minded, we automatically equate this type of resistance to the spiritual warfare that we know exists and the strongholds that the world is overtaken by.
Then, there are many churches who have taken the position that in order to be attractive to the community, the church must become a promoter of hip-hop and also become inclusive as to cater to the needs of the hip-hop community and make provisions for the hip hop culture within the church. Therefore much resistance to the message against hip-hop comes from spaghetti-backed ministers who either forgot or never knew the mission of God to the church or community.
Then without doubt, because of the varying degrees of social disparity that we find within the educational system, the criminal justice system and because of the breakdown of the inner city family (the black family in particular) hip hop has made its way to the center of social "normalcy" of American lifestyle, so much until one almost can't pick up a secular magazine without being presented with some sort of message formulated for, by or catering to the hip hop culture.
Exodus 20:3 ~ "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
As simple as the first commandment of God may seem it is often the most violated commandment that that we witness both within and outside of the modern day church. Both Christians and non-Christians are quick to make idols of their favorite preachers, artists, and musicians and fight vehemently for them. While there is certainly nothing wrong with loyalty, there is however something wrong with establishing and promoting idolatry and becoming a conduit for idol worship.
One of the most popular TV shows is called American Idol. The show seriously and sometimes hilariously displays the preoccupation with becoming famous at almost any cost. This is the hook of hip-hop. The promise that hip-hop will somehow make one popular, sexy or more appealing. Unfortunately this has become the position of the modern church as it pertains to hip-hop and the hip-hop culture and agenda and it is having devastating effects on our youth and families. While I don't intend to lay all of the blame for our communities current condition at the feet of hip-hop, the hip-hop culture has not added anything of benefit or to stem the tide of the conditions that we currently face.
What Is Hip-Hop?
As recently as 1997 singer and artist Erykah Badu, who sold 3 million CDs of her 1997 debut and won a Grammy for rhythm and blues album of the year, credited the 5% Nation as an influence. Several of her songs include bits of 5% teachings. Erykah is also expecting her third child out of wedlock by as many men. Andre 3000 is her oldest son's father while rapper D.O.C. is her daughters daddy. The sad part is that at her height she was admired by many Christian women for her seeming strength, boldness and spirituality.
1. That black people are the original people of the planet earth.
2. That black people are the fathers and mothers of civilization.
3. That the science of Supreme Mathematics is the key to understanding man's relationship to the universe.
4. Islam is a natural way of life, not a religion.
5. That education should be fashioned to enable us to be self sufficient as a people.
6. That each one should teach one according to their knowledge.
7. That the blackman is god and his proper name is ALLAH. Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head.
8. That our children are our link to the future and they must be nurtured, respected, loved, protected and educated.
9. That the unified black family is the vital building block of the nation.
Contrary to popular knowledge, hip-hop has also established it's own "ministry" and has set forth that it is seeking to be more than music could or would ever be or become. In fact, one of its leading proponents, KRS ONE (formerly Lawrence Krisna Parker) the founder of the Temple Of Hip-Hop, which is a hip-hop preservation society, has declared
"hip hop is not just the music, it is a lifestyle" ~KRS ONE
"...that the hip-hop nation moves as an army, an army that determines what's hot in this country. That's a tremendous amount of power to wield. Which is why I want to encourage our army to not only flex our muscle in the artistic and commercial worlds, but in the political and social process as well." (Do You, Gotham Books 2007, pg. 275)
To make the transition to the business and political end of hip-hop one must notice one of the most vocal proponents and promoters of hip-hop in modern America. He is the 51 year old Russell Simmons, founder of multiple businesses including Def Jam Records and Entertainment which gave rise to comedians such as Chris Rock and serious promotion to others such as Martin Lawrence and the late Bernie Mack through the Def Jam Comedy Show. Mr. Simmons is also the founder of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network which meets annually to discuss the direction of hip-hop and it's mission towards the youth and the community in general. Mr. Simmons recently declared:
Mr. Simmons has taken the advantage of the opportunity to point out that "muscleflex", by stating that the election of President Barack Obama was due to the hip-hop community and the emerging consciousness promoted by Eckhart Tolle and other mystical teachers. The words of Mr. Simmons:
- "The vision of the hip-hop generation and its young people is in full and glorious effect. While many older Americans marched and struggled so hard so Senator Obama could run for President of the United States never dared believe in his candidacy's real potential, young people particularly the hip-hop community, had faith and their imagination became our reality. The election of Barack Obama, a resounding progressive voice, is a clear reflection of hip-hop politics. It's a reflection of the 35 Million who downloaded Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and all the other popular books espousing this new emerging consciousness." (Hip Hop Weekly Edwards Media Vol. 3 Issue 24 Pg. 26)
The Source Magazine which claims to be the "bible of hip-hop" declared very similar:
- "But it was the youth vote- the hip-hop vote- that clearly made a difference in this election"..."He(President Obama) is a product of the hip-hop generation. While not necessarily "hood" in the street sense of the word, Obama has worked for and organized the "hood". Even as he claims to love and appreciate some hip-hop he has spoken out against its more explicit and offensive lyrics" ~ (L. Londell McMillan The Source Magazine December 2008 Issue #228, pg. 55)
What is telling about these statements is that hip-hop is claiming individuals merely because they are "close" in proximity to hip-hop. For these reasons and others, it should be obvious that hip-hop is not merely a music style, lyric or rhythm. It is a social culture that defines, motivates and shapes hearts dreams and aspirations. It is also a direct attempt to inculturate our youth permeating and redefining all norms of society.
Further, it is even more interesting to note that individuals such as Mr. Simmons and his brother affectionately called Rev. Run founder of the rap group Run DMC do not allow their children to listen to hip-hop music in their presence.
Should there be any wonder why not even those making money from hip hop don't allow their children to listen to it?
- This Hiphop Declaration of Peace guides Hiphop Kulture toward freedom from violence, and establishes advice and protection for the existence and development of the international Hiphop community. Through the principles of this Hiphop Declaration of Peace we, Hiphop Kulture, establish a foundation of Health, Love, Awareness, Wealth, peace and prosperity for ourselves, our children and their children's children, forever. For the clarification of Hiphop's meaning and purpose, or when the intention of Hiphop is questioned, or when disputes between parties arise concerning Hiphop; Hiphoppas shall have access to the advice of this document, The Hiphop Declaration of Peace, as guidance, advice and protection.
The declaration of hip-hop states that IT should be consulted to clarify the meaning and intent of hip-hop when there are questions or disputes. Due to the crime violence, murders and "beefs" that we see among the hip-hop community it's obvious that not all "hiphoppas" ascribe to this declaration which we will touch on later in this series.
The Hip-Hop Temple & It's Message
The Temple of hip hop describes its beliefs and practices as "independent collective consciousness". What the temple has successfully done is replace independent consciousness with consciousnesses dependent upon it for direction and acceptance. Under Principle One, the elements (body) of hip-hop are:
Street Knowledge and
- STREET KNOWLEDGE: (The study and application of ancestral wisdom). Commonly refers to the basic common sense and accumulated wisdom of inner-city families. It consists of techniques, phrases, codes and terms used to survive within the inner-cities. It involves the ability to reason soundly with or without the ideas or validation of the traditional academic mainstream. Street Knowledge is the accumulation of Hip Hop’s cultural self-awareness
Additional principles are outlined as follows:
- *Sixth Principle
- Hiphop Kulture honors no relationship, person, event, act or otherwise wherein the preservation and further development of Hiphop's culture, principles and elements are not considered or respected. Hiphop Kulture does not participate in activities that clearly destroy or alter its ability to productively and peacefully exist. Hiphoppas are encouraged to initiate and participate in fair trade and honesty in all negotiations and transactions.
- *Seventh Principle
- The essence of Hiphop is beyond entertainment: The elements of Hiphop Kulture may be traded for money, honor, power, respect, food, shelter, information and other resources; however, Hiphop and its culture cannot be bought, nor is it for sale. It (Hiphop) cannot be transferred or exchanged by or to anyone for any compensation at any time or at any place. Hiphop is not a product. Hiphop is the priceless principle of our self-empowerment.
- *Eighth Principle
- Companies, corporations, non and not-for-profit organizations, as well as individuals and groups that are clearly benefiting from the use, interpretation and/or exploitation of the term Hiphop, (i.e. Hip Hop, hip-hop,) and the expressions and terminologies of Hiphop, (i.e. Hip Hop, hip-hop,) are encouraged to commission and/or employ a full-time or part-time certified Hiphop Kultural Specialist to interpret and answer sensitive cultural questions regarding the principles and proper presentations of Hiphop’s elements and culture; relative to businesses, individuals, organizations, communities, cities, as well as other countries.
Hip -hop has defined the following things for us:
- Hip-hop is more than music, it is a culture and a complete world view
- Hip-hop is a godless worldview in which man is replaced and exalted to the status of God
- Many of the major artists within hip-hop belong to anti-God religious groups and use the music of hip hop to promote their anti-Christ messages.
- Hip-hop does not respect anyone or any institution who does not seek to preserve hip-hop nor promote it's principles.
- When all things are considered we can safely say that hip-hop is an atheistic religion in practice and a humanistic worldview in philosophy.
It can't go without noting that we have many churches who are now catering to the hip-hop crowd, not by preaching the truth but by compromising the holiness of God, claiming that they are reaching the masses and replacing ineffective religion with a new spiritual fervor.
We will also look at what we must do as a church to help liberate our youth from the destruction underneath the surface of the hip-hop culture.