STORY: The People Of Christian Hip Hop Vs. Lecrae & Reach Records: Part 2

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“I am society’s child. This is how they made me, and
now I’m saying what’s on my mind, and they don’t
want that. This is what you made me America … no
matter what y’all think about me. I’m still your child,
you know what I’m saying?” – Tupac Shakur

In the earliest days of Reach Records, it seemed that
they were unapologetically standing on the side of
Christian music that had to be preachy and overtly
religious or it was deemed not “Christian” enough.
I’ve never heard anyone from Reach Records say
this, but the tone of their music and general conversation was that if your music wasn’t Christian
“on the surface,” then you just might be ashamed
of the Gospel.

As they’ve matured in their understanding of what
being unashamed of the Gospel looks like, they’ve
done endorsement deals with Stacy Adams,
collaborations with renowned secular artists such
as B.O.B., Saigon and Jon Bellion, and they’ve
become regular guests at Shade45 on Sirius XM and other secular media outlets.

Many of the Christians I know who have a problem
with this new direction think nothing of tuning in
weekly to watch Scandal, Empire or Game of
Thrones. The same people who complain that
there’s not enough “Jesus” in the music that has
been coming out of the 116 camp don’t see any contradiction when they watch television
programming with nudity, profanity, blasphemy
and no “Jesus” at all. Some accusations are just
unfair, so I don’t take every accusation leveled
against Reach Records seriously.

The biggest critique I have of Reach Records has
nothing to do with with how subtle or overt their
religious messages are as artists. My critique is that
they have not been accountable to the confusion
that their new direction has caused in the Christian
hip-hop community. At the time of this writing, Wikipedia states that Reach Records is an
“independent record label specializing in Christian
hip-hop,” though their recently changed bio on
there website makes no obvious mention of their
faith in Christ. Several months ago during an
interview on Shade45 with Statik Selektah, Andy Mineo said that Reach Records was not, in fact, a
Christian label, though, the people involved are
Christians.

This is confusing. It’s very healthy when noted
figures in the community weigh in on CHH current
events to give wisdom, guidance and perspective.
The fans and supporters of Christian hip-hop love
to get inside the minds of the artists and leaders
they listen to. They take spiritual and cultural cues from their favorite rappers. Some of the younger
fans heed the words of Christian rappers more than
their pastors and parents. Many of them feel like
they have been “discipled” and, in some cases, led
to the the Lord through the music and ministry of
Reach Records.

Christian hip hop is eating its own. Paul warned the
Galatian church not to bite and devour each other
lest they be consumed by one another. There’s a
common approach to discussions online among
Christians who disagree. It’s merciless and
ravenous. We fire off insults intended to wound and berate one another and use the Bible to justify
any and everything we feel like saying or typing in
the moment. We say some of the most biting,
scathing remarks to one another, concluding the
exchange with a “Hey, let’s just agree to disagree.
God bless.”

Christian Internet mudslinging aside, there needs to
be room to challenge one another in love and
wisdom. In 2010 when Bizzle debuted with
“Explaining to Do” (the now infamous “Jay Z diss”),
many in the Christian hip-hop community took up
stones to throw, while others turned a blind eye to the stoning. Many of those stones had Lecrae’s
name on them. Bizzle was chided for not being
more like Lecrae. Even those who agreed with
Bizzle were sometimes reluctant to speak up for
fear of the social media Pharisee mob.

In the years following, Lecrae, Andy and several
other prominent Christian rappers have gone on
record and disagreed with how Bizzle has
addressed certain topics in his music — public
disagreement is not necessarily disrespect. It’s
interesting to see the same community take up stones with Bizzle’s name on them to throw at
Lecrae, chiding him for not being as “unashamed”
as Bizzle. The more things change, the more they
stay the same.

Every Christian artist (or artist who is a Christian),
has a responsibility to steward the platform of
influence they’ve been given by God. Everyone will
have to give an account to God for how they use
what has been entrusted to them.

In some sense, Lecrae and Reach Records have
orphaned their children. They told Christian hip hop
what to be; they set the standard for how business
should be conducted in the house, but rather than
sending their offspring out of the house and into
the world, they bounced up out of the crib themselves. It’s like the father of the house saying
he’s outgrown his children. Many of the people I
sometimes laugh at and dismiss as 116 internet
trolls are actually disciples of Lecrae and Reach
Records. They have fathered many of these
Christian hip-hop children in the Gospel, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of Reach’s
sons in the Lord are like “Hey dad where are you
going?!”

Reach Records has attempted to ignore these cries,
or at the minimum — addressed them lightly — and
it’s clearly not a conversation they enjoy having in
the media. Their supporters, including myself, have
told naysayers to grow the heck up and stop
whining like babies. But that might be the reason they’re crying in the first place — they are Reach’s
babies, so Reach should be accountable to the
atmosphere they’ve created.

Lecrae helped build CHH and then rapped “I ain’t
tryna build CHH,” so as a community, many are still
trying to wrap their mind around how that whole
switcharoo works.

Lecrae and Andy have had no issue
acknowledging the areas where the church has
fallen short — from true social justice to the way the
church has dealt with homosexuality, to Christian
hip hop being corny at one time. They may be as
consecrated and set apart to the Lord as they’ve ever been, but the “Christian rapper” vs. “rapper
who’s Christian” conversation isn’t going away,
and they don’t get to decide when we as a
community are done talking about it. I think we’d
all do well to remember the words of Malcolm X
who said, “Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think, or
as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know
what you know today.”

There’s not one person reading this who that quote
doesn’t apply to.

Lecrae says, “Artistically, I’m burdened to share the
gospel, but I’m not going to slap a message on art.”
Amen brother Lecrae, and we as a community are
still trying to figure out how we feel about that.

2 Comments

  1. The music is a tool to teach the gospel, if someone is going outside of the gospel correction is needed. What are they teaching in their music? is it God’s word? When we are washed with the word, we are to preach, teach the word, the truth, not talk reckless and put God at the end of it.We have to teach his word. John 14:15-26. To love God is to keep his words, his sayings. Vs 24 “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” so who’s preaching through the music and who’s saying “Iam a christian” but are not following God’s word ?? They are just as bad as the fake preachers. We are to bring the lost sheep out of darkness through the word of God,not teach darkness. This is different than secular music and movies, we don’t watch and listen for teaching all of that is purged – Mark 7:15-23. We know secular music and movies are entertainment but if your coming to teach and some one takes what you say as true, your helping to scatter the sheep. We are to be the light

  2. Is it art over God’s word??? That’s backwards – Matt 25:14-30 we are to minister – 1Peter 4:10. Not hide the talent = the word of God vs 26 to God you are considered wicked. So does God come first? Or are they lovers of self. The cross means to denie self, then we follow Christ. Remember Jesus is the word in flesh, what did he speak? How did he correct? He would say “have ye not read” when we do it our way, we are doing our own will, we are to do God’s will

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