“Excuse me while I deal with some in-house issues!”
Propaganda -Precious Puritans
In the past three years, I haven’t really paid much attention to the Christian Hip Hop sub genre. I have approached it with much apathy. I can think of two reasons why this is so. First, I struggle with the cultural exclusivity of a medium that prides itself on “reaching the lost.” If you are a genre of compassionate evangelists, then you should be where the “lost” are. This concern could be easily remedied if there were a more expansive outlook on Christians in the arts. (However, this is not the time for that discussion.)
My second reason will require much repentance on my part. I have become so disinterested in Christian Hip Hop that I loathe it at times. I loathe its music. I began to loathe its websites, and I have also loathed its artists. I confess that my posture has been self-righteousness that has disguised itself as artistic snobbery and spiritual enlightenment. Although I have no contempt for artistic excellence or revelation from the LORD, it is not acceptable to loathe my family or their offering to the Most High. I will leave it up to others to debate the quality of that offering, but I know that I have wasted words mocking the “Widow’s Offering” (Mark 12:41-44) rather than rejoicing with them. I have also felt the blows of Paul’s instruction to the Galatians:
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
I have had many opportunities to “do good…to those who are of the household of faith,” but I’ve allowed pride and preference to champion my outlook. Even if I still find many habits and philosophies in CHH puzzling, I believe GOD has called us to love. However, many will rationalize protecting philosophies, platforms, doctrines, and relationships over doing good to everyone. I can feel the entitlement in the question asked to Jesus by his disciples when they recognized others were casting out demons and performing “good” acts. “Who are these men who perform acts in your name, Jesus?” Why is it ok for them to do this? We are the individuals putting in the time, talent and treasure to serve you. His reply was simple. If they are not against us they are for us. This discourse is preceded by an argument of greatness amongst the disciples. In the context of events, this question is not shocking. The disciples didn’t want to share the platform that Christ graciously gave them. Yet, they needed to realize that it wasn’t theirs in the first place. Oh, how I believe this to be a strong rebuke to me and my companions in our passive support of CHH with a Tweet or Facebook like.
I pray that I feel the way I felt before I had a record deal or a platform to protect. I pray that I once again see this as an honor to know that there are laborers working in the harvest alongside me. They may plow differently, but they plow. I pray that my heart will remain so humbled by this that I will consider others above myself.
I have no quick solution, but I do know that I wrestle and will continue to wrestle in my heart with my intentions and if they are pure before the LORD. I also plan to do that in the context of others. I no longer see it as an honor to ignore the family business. I no longer see it as an honor to praise and support others above “the household of faith.” I want to genuinely enjoy and support the move of GOD in the work of my brothers and sisters. I want them to know their work is not in vain.
As I lay out my confession, may I also toss out a heed? I believe Christian Hip Hop is in a very dangerous place. I will not be naive and say that this is a new concern. There have long been disagreements on how, what and why in the sub genre. These disagreements can be personified in the differing philosophies of the Cross Movement and the Tunnel Rats. Just to be fair to both parties, I’ve yet to hear a “clear” indictment towards the other from an official member of either group. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. But what has happened is fans berate fans. Fans berate groups. And the groups defend themselves while passively taking shots at the opposition. I find that this has created unhealthy attacks and discussion on social media and other tertiary platforms by artists and those who champion certain philosophies. This eventually gives birth to bitterness, gossip and tension between artists, camps, fans and others.
Is there a real beef? Does it need to be reconciled? I know artists on both sides and although I wouldn’t call it beef, I would say there is confusion and tension. As a fan of both CM and TR, it would be a blessing to see these pioneering groups reconcile their differences. I believe it could be a great example for those who have followed their leads. I suppose that is my greater concern. We can now see the effects of passivity and pride pumping through the veins of this organism of CHH. The epidemic is much worse than it was before, because there are larger numbers in the equation in regards to money, status, and social media. How can Christian artists and executives be so articulate about their mission while at the same time so incapable of maintaining healthy relationships outside their camps?
I had to answer that myself when I left Reach Records. I had extreme bitterness in my heart. I had to erase many lyrics, tweets and status updates because of the malicious intent behind them. But erasing those words didn’t stop me from harboring certain feelings. No matter how I felt about Reach, I came to realize that I was dealing with self-righteousness and entitlement. I saw a need to address my issues by having conversations with the right people. Since those discussions have happened, I’ve been free to move on.
This genre will fall apart if its leaders, spokespersons and artists can’t deny themselves and see that “if they are not against us, they are for us!” In years past, I felt like you could feel the love and support of your brothers and sisters who labored alongside of you. Now, with all the gossiping and posturing behind the scenes, we are everything we claim not to be. I’m not fighting for a genre or philosophy, I’m fighting for my brothers. I couldn’t care less if a genre explodes or dies. I only care that my family can stand before one another with all sincerity and say we considered each other above ourselves.