I love music. Almost all music. Whether it’s rock, pop, country, jazz, alternative, afro-house, classical, hip hop, or soul, my ears really don’t discriminate. I vividly remember experimenting with my Dad’s 45′ records from the age of 8 and the first CD I bought with my own money. I’ve been to music school, written/composed songs for others, and still even have dreams of becoming a DJ in the near future. But even with my diverse music background throughout childhood and my adult years, I especially had a love for hip hop, reggae, and neo soul. Something about the consciousness of the artists, homage paid to untold histories, and the rhythmic sounds of the beats engaged me like no other art form. But one thing I have grown to acknowledge, especially since giving my life to Christ, is a lot of these artists I’ve grown up with do NOT honor the Kingdom of God with their music.
Ouch. I wrestled with this for years. Maybe because I always loved these genres more than gospel or Christian rock. Maybe because these artists DID talk to or about God and Jesus Christ in their lyrics. Maybe because they wanted to bring light to social issues and conditions I was passionate about. Maybe that all helped me to justify not giving up their music. But the more I matured in my faith, I recognized how many of these artists were often misguided in their lyrical discussions about God and even promoted lawlessness that was conveniently covered by melodies massaging our ears and numbing our senses to truth. With good intentions paving the pathway to hell, I recognized that in a sense they were no different than the raunchy rap and R&B artists I loathe. Let me give you a few examples…
1. The Roots
“Why is the world ugly when you made it in your image?
And why is living life such a fight to the finish?
For this high percentage, when the sky’s the limit.
A second is a minute, every hour’s infinite.” – Dear God 2.0
2. A Tribe Called Quest
“Don’t stress that cause it’s not in your bloodstream
Your whole being, comes from greatness, d’you remember
Shatan got you caught in the storms of December
And brothers on the block packin nines like September
Crazy situations keeps pockets on slender.” – Stressed Out
3. Jill Scott
(Case studies too sexually explicit to share…but for real though, that’s my point)
4. Tupac Shakur
“Searching for Black Jesus
Oh yeah, sportin jewels and s**t, yanahmean?
(Black Jesus; you can be Christian
Baptist, Jehovah Witness)
Straight tatted up, no doubt, no doubt
(Islamic, won’t matter to me
I’m a thug; thugs, we praise Black Jesus, all day)” – Black Jesus
5. Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def)
“Those who’d trade they freedom for protection deserve neither.
F*** a name, f*** tradition, religion, you learn Jesus.” – What’s Beef
6. Talib Kweli
“But real Muslims believe in paradise and the resist the Shatan
So it all sound the same to me
That’s why when they say one is right and the other is wrong it just sound like game to me
It’s like God skipped past the church and came to me
No that ain’t vain to me
It’s just a particular way that I came to see” – Give ‘Em Hell
7. Erykah Badu
“Humdi Lila Allah Jehova Yahweh Dios Ma’ad Jah Rastafara fyah dance, sex, music…
It’s bigger than religion, Hip-Hop
it’s bigger than my n****s: Hip-Hop
it’s bigger than the government.” – The Healer (Sidenote: Oh, really?)
“He [Jesus] still created with the imperfection of man
So, with followin’ I disagree
By no means have I forgotten or forgiven what’s been done to me” – G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition)
9. Lupe Fiasco
“All, so we fall for the illusions of the beast
So instead of tryin’ to teach we show our teeth
Same God, different beliefs
Hijabs, Sunday clothes, yarmulke, kufi, same mission beneath
We all tryin’ to get to where the sufferin’ ends
In front of the Most High bein’ judged for our sins
Can’t front for the Most High, so the struggle continues
You, every bee, bird and tree, he, her and me
We virtually on the same boat
With the same goats, on the same sea
Tryin’ to stay afloat, and put the devil in the yolk
With a couple of God’s quotes” – Muhammad Walks
10. Big K.R.I.T.
“‘Be a rapper or a Christian Krit?'”
Cause in this game there’s no room for that religion s**t
Acrobatic flip my temper cause I remember
It’s either heaven or Hell and that s**t simple.”
11. Kendrick Lamar
“As I open this book and then burn up some of this reefer
My plan is to figure out the world and escape all my demons
I’m dying inside, I wonder if Zion inside the heavens
A condom, a Rollie, pain, a fat blunt and a mack 11
That’s all I see in my life and they tell me to make it right
But I’m right on the edge of Everest and I might jump tonight” – Kush & Corinthians
12. Bob Marley
“Then legalize marijuana
Right here in Jamaica yeah
Dem say it cure glaucoma yeah
I’m an a de bush doctor yeah…” – Legalize It
I think what hurts the most about this selection of artists is the fact they are all so incredibly talented and their music is so soulful, appealing, and “eargasmic.” But as Christians we must use our common sense and get our heads out of the rhythmic clouds. Allow me to further explain…
Don’t get lost in the music. There is a clear agenda here. The artists above don’t believe Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and/or don’t live according to His Word. Rather, they submit their minds to belief systems like Islam, The 5 Percenter Movement, Atheism, Agnosticism, and the Zulu Nation. These very beliefs mock the God we serve, and if you don’t know what they are, who is apart of them, and how they have captivated the minds of young people – EDUCATE yourself today. We will shut down rants or pray over the attack of Twitter atheists all day, but won’t even consider deleting songs off of our iPhones that belong to people who TOO do not believe. You are not independent of their influence. And these are sobering facts.
Beyond their beliefs, we can stop at the pure lawlessness each of these artists promote in their music. For every song like “Golden,” Jill Scott has 10 songs about her sexual addiction to a man. For every “Redemption Song” or “One Love,” Bob Marley has 20 songs glorifying marijuana. Who cares that Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T. consider themselves Christians? Have they stopped to ask God how He feels about their cursing, self-indulgence, mocking of the Holy Bible, and sexually explicit lyrics? I doubt it. And I promise you no one has gotten a spiritual awakening from any of their songs.
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” – 2 Corinthians 6: 14-16
What makes us think music is a pure art form we can’t stumble from? This is where the enemy does his most precisely executed work, because we consume the very energy music is like narcotics. Even worship and gospel music are subject to perversion. Satan is an expert at this. I’m begging you family, we must use our critical thinking skills, discernment, and other senses to recognize music is the most impressionable art form in our lives and our worship experience with God. Don’t let the music you consume and the seeds it plants pervert your walk with Christ. Do we really think God cares that the beat was hot, the artist addresses social issues (that we OURSELVES have created), or that at least the artist gave a tacky mention of our Father’s name?
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” – Matthew 7: 21-23
This post won’t be popular with most. But it’s necessary and long overdue. There is a reason why I chose these artists and not the usual suspects like Kanye, Drake, J Cole, Jay-Z, etc. These are just a few of the artists viewed as seemingly harmless in our homes. But don’t let “the beat” be an idol in your life that keeps you from honoring the Lord free of yourself, ideology, and contentment. And like with every other step of this Christian journey, I challenge you today to reconsider your comfort. Let’s keep this discussion going.
This particular blog post is the prelude to a series I’m beginning in the new year, entitled, “How Does God Feel About My ____.” In this upcoming series, I will revisit issues like secular music, alcohol, premarital sex, and many others to both dismantle myths about what the Bible says and to encourage holiness amongst our generation. Stay tuned!