The Pros and Cons of Rap

I have to admit, I never thought that I would be making a post about rap music. After all, when asked what kind of music I like to listen to, I have said something along the lines of “Anything but rap. I can’t stand rap.” Yet, as you may have noticed, the three I’ve Been Listening To… posts over the past weekend were rap music. On Friday, I randomly decided to listen to a lot of music by Lecrae, a Christian rap artist I have listened to in the past, as well as seen live, but wouldn’t really say I liked. Since then, both his music and the very idea of rap has grown on me, and as I thought about it earlier today I began to understand why.

As I see it, rap music is unique in the range of musical genres. With the lyrics of rap songs are often more spoken poetry, with fewer limitations than sung words. This freedom allows for quite a bit of wordplay and wit, but also eloquence. Not only do I find this interesting and entertaining, it adds a certain beauty to the otherwise rough nature of most rap music.

On the other hand, the lack of melody also places a greater focus on the message of the song, making it a hit-or-miss. The music of artists representing their faith like Lecrae and Propaganda is great, but if I don’t like what the rapper has to say, I won’t like the rap. I don’t believe that sex outside of marriage, mistreating your body with drugs or amassing wealth just for the sake of having it is right, so why should I listen to music glorifying any of those activities. Lecrae references the same thing in “Unashamed”: “All they rhyme about is guns, money, sex and drugs/Eighty percent of these dudes is fictional thugs.” Fictional or not, I don’t want that junk in the music I listen to.

Despite the positive message in the music of Christian rappers like Lecrae, Propaganda, FLAME, KJ-52, Tedeshii and Trip Lee, many Christians are cautious of it, especially the older generations. When my church used “Let’s Confess” by The Restoration Project, there were a few members of the congregation who were not happy about it. While some of them didn’t like the departure from the ordinary, others had a problem with the music itself. Even though “Let’s Confess” is more spoken word than hard rap, they did not believe that putting a Christian message in the more contemporary genre of music was conforming to the sinful world, as Romans 12: 2 warns against.

I would argue exactly the opposite. Rather than conforming to the it, Christian rap are being a light to the world through their music, connecting to it through a popular form of media. Lecrae’s 2012 album Gravity spent several days at the top of the iTunes bestseller list, a spot normally taken by the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Pitbull or others, and rarely, if ever, an artist dedicated to his or her faith. While I’m sure many non-Christians were involved and affected as the album moved its the way up the charts, even if only one person developed a relationship with Christ as a result, it would be worth it.

I think that’s all I have to say about the topic for now. I’ve been listening to Lecrae quite a bit since the weekend, and I think he will probably show up again in my “I’ve Been Listening to Posts…” Anyway, I should head to bed. First quiz of the semester tomorrow in calculus…

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