I’m not very Honest with myself…….and how Hip-Hop saved my Life.

October 21, 2008

WARNING: Explicit Lyrics………I might get a lot of flack for this post, but here it goes.

The “Christian” radio station in Orlando (where I’m from) has a saying at the end of each broadcast.  They say that their station is “Safe for the Little Ears.”  I guess what they mean is that they don’t use bad language or talk about “bad things” in their songs that might be a little “inappropriate” for children.  Well I hate to break it to you, but like my Pastor Tim says….The Bible is NOT safe for the little ears!  I hate to say this, but this radio station along with its songs are not being very honest.  At the very least, they are not telling the whole truth.

I’m just as much a victim to this as the radio station.  I grew up know which stuff was okay to talk about and which stuff wasn’t.  I learned to say I was fine, when I wasn’t and learned to act like everything was happy, when everything wasn’t.  I learned that to be a good Christian was to have it all together, just like the songs on the radio.  I mean “I still believe” was how I should feel after My Mom got cancer, right?  Well, I didn’t feel like that at all……probably quite the opposite and that was the honest truth.

I got introduced to Hip-Hop music when I was in 5th grade.  My friends used to sneak a boom box into class and we would listen until the bell rang.  Hip-Hop has taught me a lot of things and one of the most important things was how to be honest.  Now……I know what your thinking, but just hear me out.

Just to keep in perspective…I got introduced to 2pac and Biggie at a young age, so this is what I am coming from.  I’m not coming from one of the garbage rappers that we hear these days.

2pac’s song “changes” epitomized, for me, the art of letting everything out…..not just the good, not just the bad, but the honest truth.  I could feel the hurt and the pain.  The joy and the sorrow.  The happiness and the sadness.  2pac was being honest.

I’m going to go ahead and say it……….Hip Hop is more HONEST than “Christian Music.”  Like I said, when my Mom had cancer the last thing I wanted to hear was “I still believe,” but I did listen to a Biggie song on repeat over and over again because he said this line, “…and my Mom has cancer in her breast.  Don’t ask me why I’m Mother Fuckin’ stressed.”  I listened to that because that is was real.  It was honest, it was blunt and it was real.  Let me make something clear……..

The Psalms are not happy go lucky songs that give you a good feeling in a worship service.  The Psalms are honest.  They talk about the full nature of what it means to be human.  The hurt, the pain, the joy, the sadness are all expressed.  If we want to be more honest with ourselves we must stop acting like we have it all together. 

Talib Kweli has an album titled “Beautiful Struggle” in which he relates this theme to life.  Life is not just Beautiful, it is also a struggle.  We need to relate both sides of the equation.  Trust me……God can handle our honesty.  He has for a long time…….

LYRICS FROM 2PAC’S CHANGES

Come on come on
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
is life worth living should I blast myself?
I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black
my stomach hurts so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
pull the trigger kill a nigga he’s a hero
Give crack to the kids who the hell cares
one less ugly mouth on the welfare
First ship ’em dope & let ’em deal the brothers
give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other
It’s time to fight back that’s what Huey said
2 shots in the dark now Huey’s dead
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin’ changes
learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers
and that’s how it’s supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?
I’d love to go back to when we played as kids
but things changed, and that’s the way it is

[Bridge w/ changing ad libs]
Come on come on
That’s just the way it is
Things’ll never be the same
That’s just the way it is
aww yeah
[Repeat]

I see no changes all I see is racist faces
misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
one better place, let’s erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they’ll be acting right
’cause both black and white is smokin’ crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President, uhh
It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact
the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks
But some things will never change
try to show another way but you stayin’ in the dope game
Now tell me what’s a mother to do
bein’ real don’t appeal to the brother in you
You gotta operate the easy way
“I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way
sellin’ crack to the kid. ” I gotta get paid,”
Well hey, well that’s the way it is

[Bridge]

[Talking: ]
We gotta make a change…
It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.
Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live
and let’s change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive.

And still I see no changes can’t a brother get a little peace
It’s war on the streets & the war in the Middle East
Instead of war on poverty they got a war on drugs
so the police can bother me
And I ain’t never did a crime I ain’t have to do
But now I’m back with the blacks givin’ it back to you
Don’t let ’em jack you up, back you up,
crack you up and pimp smack you up
You gotta learn to hold ya own
they get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone
But tell the cops they can’t touch this
I don’t trust this when they try to rush I bust this
That’s the sound of my tool you say it ain’t cool
my mama didn’t raise no fool
And as long as I stay black I gotta stay strapped
& I never get to lay back
‘Cause I always got to worry ’bout the pay backs
some buck that I roughed up way back
comin’ back after all these years
rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat that’s the way it is uhh

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3 Responses to “I’m not very Honest with myself…….and how Hip-Hop saved my Life.”

  1. Will said

    Hip-hop has been the most influential music for my faith. Making the margenalized people on the “streets” a reality through the air waves. Hip-hop is for, about, and birthed out of those people and neighborhoods on the underside of society much like Jesus own ministry. Contemporary Christian music is for, about, and birthed out the insulated walls of the American wealthy suburban church…. much like the Pharisees.

  2. Ed said

    Excellent description of how two artists used the artistic form of hip hop to shape honesty as a fundamental tenant. As ministers of the gospel, it is so important that we tear down the “fake” aspects of Christianity and help people understand that healing comes when you are honest about what resides on the inside. Thanks for this! I love 2Pac as well!

  3. JPM, OSL said

    I like the post a lot, but I think that the issue goes beyond Christian music to much of the Christian mindset: that part of being a Christian makes everything okay. While I know that I have to pray “in the fullness of time, put all things in subjection under your Christ” (BCP, 369) and have hope, that doesn’t mean that things are going to be perfect from the time baptismal waters are applied. My friend Erin talks about “cotton candy clouds” imagery in Christian music. A local Christian station around me talks about how their music is positive and uplifting.

    I think it’s a distortion or ignoring of the Gospel. The only thing we’re promised on this island home of ours for living our faith is three nails and a tree ourselves. Derek Webb does an excellent job capturing this in his “Intro to ‘Wedding Dress’ “. It’s a great piece of honest about the Gospel and how it’s been distorted and twisted and made simple.

    I think that much of the American Church needs to hear and pray these words (myself included),

    “i repent of trading truth for false unity
    i repent of confusing peace and idolatry
    of caring more of what they think than what i know of what they need
    and domesticating You until You look just like me
    i am wrong and of these things i repent”

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