A Joyful Noise: Can Hip-Hop & Gospel Intermingle Too Much?

The debate has been had before, but with an increase in Christian rappers and hip-hop influenced gospel artists, is it possible that the two genres are getting a little too close?  As many may or may not know, hip-hop has serious roots in gospel music (as does every other form of American music).  But it’s obvious as daylight that there are more than a few MAJOR differences, and some feel like those differences are strong enough that the two genres have no business co-habitating.

The naysayers are quick to say that much of hip-hop (not all of it, but most) can be misogynistic, promote promiscuity, encourage vulgarity, and contain many other traits that Bible-thumping Christians frown upon.  Honestly, there is a point to be made here.  Why should a gospel artist embrace a culture they feel does not exemplify Christian values?  Clearly Mary Mary will never take it as far Nicki Minaj does, but are we still getting a little too close for comfort?

The idea behind embracing hip-hop and youth cultures in general is being able to reach those who don’t respond to the traditional “church music” experience.  It is used as a way to bridge the gap and excite an audience that feels bored and disconnected otherwise.  The implications are understood, but is it possible that reaching and teaching more people about the word of Christ is better than isolation for sanctity’s sake?  Again, both sides are understood, but sometimes you have to meet the wayward where they are, and help them find their path rather than wait for them to knell at the pew on their own.

Also, from a completely artistic standpoint, why should a gospel artist feel restrained to one sound?  One look? One back and forth choir sway?  The Bible says make a joyful noise unto the Lord! In the end, listen to whatever makes you feel the spirit, and try be open to those who walk to the beat of a different drum, as long as their walking in the right direction.

Jessica Bennett     

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