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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Guns vs. God – A Hip-Hop Dilemma
Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We see it all the time in Hip-Hop. Take a look at the liner notes of the most recent rap album you purchased, any one will do. Who gets thanked first in those liner notes? God, of course. Now put that CD into your CD player and press play. What’s the one thing that’s noticeably absent from the album as a whole? God, of course. In the liner notes He comes first, but on the album He comes far after guns, drugs, alcohol, women, money, rims, and even custom fitted platinum grill pieces, and that’s if He comes at all. So the question is if God is so important to you how come He gets just as many mentions as the dude who gives you your weekly trim at the barber shop (who’s also thanked in a lot of album liner notes)?

Now I know what some of you may be thinking, “has Adam gone off and joined some sort of religious cult on us?” Nah, no worries there. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan of organized religion, but I am a fan of being a stand up individual and of music that can be played in front of anyone, two things a lot of artists don’t seem to be representing these days. Basically, if you list God first in your liner notes show it in your work. I’m not saying go the Christian Rap route, most Christian Rap is pretty awful, usually because they try to preach too hard and switch up the beats so as to really set it apart from other forms of rap music. Not so ironically, the self-alienation of a lot of Christian rap artists is the main reason they get ignored. Sound too different, don’t get played. It’s been that way since the beginning of time. There are, however, some artists that have Christian undertones that have been doing it right.

Both Sivion and Grits, if you listen real carefully, mention some significant “God Stuff,” as the Daily Show calls it, in their music. They don’t preach at you, and the beats are so funky you’ll probably miss it if the first few times, but that’s kind of the point. You’re listening to their music not even knowing it’s having a positive impact on you. You’re bumpin it, you’re noddin your head, and the beautiful thing is everyone around you can do the same thing no matter what age group they’re in because there’s no cursing on these records.

OK, so you’re maybe you’re not into God at all. That’s cool, these groups with God undertones can still work for you. The key word is “undertone,” you’re not being beat over the head with anything other than some dope production. What these groups have to offer even those who don’t want to hear about faith and religion is a clean Hip-Hop listening experience. You remember those, right? You remember being able to put on a rap album at a barbeque and not have to worry about what the older folks, or the little ones, may be thinking or hearing. Those were the days, right?

Recently I spoke with Brother J of X-Clan and one of the topics we discussed was the ability to spin current albums in public and the glaring fact that if you’re a full grown adult there’s really little excuse for playing the bulk of what’s coming out now anywhere other than at your home or in the club. It’s music that should be kept away from the kids. Anyone who’s heard an eight year old recite 50 Cent or Lil’ Kim lyrics on a subway train knows exactly why. In fact, I remember Common had part of a verse about this epidemic on “The Sixth Sense” off of his Like Water For Chocolate album. Barbeques ain’t what they used to be. With the way a lot of rap music is now you don’t have those family get-togethers with the boombox blasting the hottest new hits, and if you do you’re simply allowing the next generation to be saturated with negative imagery and inappropriate language.

So what’s the answer? The answer is for artists to focus more on representing who they’re thanking first and taking a minute to think about the impact they’re having on their community. If they’re thanking God first why are they working so hard to negatively affect His people. And don’t give me the “this is how it is in the hood” nonsense excuse because we all know you can do one of two things with that, explain the situations and potential avenues out, or glorify it with street stories. Sadly, most artists choose the latter which is why a good number of kids in the hood feels the only way out is MCing or playing basketball.

I’m not saying rappers should go the Christian Rap route. What I’m saying is that it would be a lot nicer if they took a minute to think about that entity they thank first in their album liner notes when conceiving their next song. They’re already reaching the kids, now all they need to do is be responsible and look to make a more positive impact in their lives.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:42 AM  
  • At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Lady Assassin said…

    I absoulty agree, Hip Hop has changed in a neative way, because it's all the same music. We as a peple listen to horrible MC's go platinum or become famous off of some record that has no meaning. The only music radios play are club hits. Hip Hop used to be a form or art used to express yourself, now every rapper is either a pimp, drug dealer, or gangbanger. The music are artist are writing today is only placing our people in a stereotype based on thats all we can talk about; the hood, guns, killing. Just because you come from the hood doesn't mean everyone of your songs has to be about that. Take Tupac for example, yea he grew up in the hood but his music is more than another street classic. I'm a rapper myself, so I personally can agree with this article. Over the past 10 years Hip Hop has changed, and we has rappers should be focused on making more music to impact our generatation,not degrade it. Thats why we have more Yin Yang Twin's than Talib Kweli's, that's why more young black would rather sell drugs than get a edcuation, because music is our influence, because we look at our favorite rappers as our role models, because their music affects us more than anything. And we will unfortunatly live like that and meet those stereotypically standards, because Hip Hop Is Dead.

  • At 9:55 AM, Blogger Conscious said…

    Lo vemos toda la hora en Cadera-Salto. Heche una ojeada las notas del trazador de líneas del álbum más reciente del rap que usted compró, hará. ¿Quién consigue agradecida primero en esas notas del trazador de líneas? Dios, por supuesto. Ahora ponga que el CD en su lector de cd y la prensa juegan. ¿Qué’s la una cosa ese’s perceptiblemente ausente del álbum en su totalidad? Dios, por supuesto. En las notas del trazador de líneas él viene primero, pero en el álbum él viene lejos después de armas, de drogas, de alcohol, de mujeres, de dinero, de bordes, e incluso de pedazos cabidos de encargo de la parrilla del platino, y de ese’s si él viene en todos. ¿La pregunta es tan si el dios es tan importante para usted cómo está venido él consigue apenas tantas menciones como el tipo que le da su ajuste semanal en la tienda del peluquero (quién’s también agradecido en muchos del trazador de líneas del álbum observa)? Lea más...

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