Hip Hop Out of Nothing: A Disenfranchised Community’s Word-Wrought Empowerment

It's not uncommon to see web, tabloid, and newspaper images of  Jay Z sitting courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game. He's a mogul, a purveyor of "cool," and a world-famous musician; he belongs there, he fits the bill. But the scene is really peculiar within the scope of American history: a black male flaunting his wealth and enjoying the heights of cultural prestige. This image would be unthinkable half a century ago.Why is this would-be peculiarity now the norm for Jay Z, and many other famous b … [Read more...]

Music Matters: Naming Names in Shai Linne’s “Fal$e Teacher$”

Each Tuesday in Music Matters, Matthew Linder explores the intersections of music, culture and faith.Exploring the controversy over Shai Linne's "Fal$e Teacher$".http://youtu.be/pl4WevY-GPUWhen Shai Linne’s Lyrical Theology Part 1 dropped at the beginning of April one song stood out, “Fal$e Teacher$”. In the final hook of the song, Shai does the unthinkable; naming the names of twelve different pastors (Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Fred P … [Read more...]

Church, Then Lunch, Then Strip Club: Pastoral Failure Laid Bare In Game’s “Jesus Piece”

Game is a tragic figure under the care of a pastor who has failed to present him with biblical Christianity. “I’m tryin’ to go to church/Get some chicken wings/After that hit the strip club.” These words are typical of Game's raps on the religiously-tinged Jesus Piece. Already controversial prior to its release because of the cover’s street-influenced depiction of Jesus, Jesus Piece’s lyrics mix Christian imagery with, as Game puts it, “life, love, family, religion, music, and the streets.” Game … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: The Country Music Culture Wars

Country music, since its inception, has been a (if not the) voice of rural, white Americana. With a musical genealogy to be darn proud of, stretching back to Dock Boggs, the great coal mining banjo player, to the legendary Hank Williams, the king of country music, Country has not only been a voice for the working folks but also a voice against the encroaching modern, urban world. And with the mainstream American culture changing at what seems to be a terrifying, rapid pace, Country music is … [Read more...]

Problematic Poetry about Precious Puritans

  “Forgive these wild & wandering criesConfusions of a wasted youthForgive me where I fail in truthAnd in Thy Wisdom make me wise” The great Alfred ‘Lord’ Tennyson had the good sense to preface his triumphant work   In Memoriam with a humble caution. Tennyson must’ve known that words, especially when written about the weakness of man, will just rub some people the wrong way. And often, the more poignant the words, the crazier the reactions tend to be.For example, Propaganda’s ‘Prec … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Why White Kids Are Eating Up Hip-Hop and Country Music

Each week in God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson gives country music a chance and examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music. http://media.trb.com/media/photo/2009-06/47536143.jpgPicture this scenario in your head: a rich, probably out of touch, record executive writes a song about partying, girls and living the good life and then hands it to the biggest name on his label to record. The song is a major radio hit and becomes everyone’s “favorite song” for ab … [Read more...]

When Christians Listen to Rap

I like First Things' "On The Square" blog quite a bit. Even when I disagree with an article there, I still find it well-written, nuanced, and thought-provoking. But then I come across an article like Christopher Walker's "Be Wary What You Listen To" and I just have to shake my head.Walker, a secondary school teacher, asked his students to introduce him to songs that they "deemed worthy of appreciation" (an interesting exercise and one that I think more adults ought to do from time to time). … [Read more...]