I bought a few of Kanye West‘s songs from iTunes this week and I have to say that I really like them. I’ve been a little skeptical because of the controversy that surrounds him. Before I heard his songs, I only knew about him as a guy who said a bunch of inflammatory things about President Bush. But, I am glad that I went ahead and went deeper to actually listen to his music. It’s good stuff.
I wish that my church could do more to understand hip-hop and to be more open to that culture. We interact with and minister to youth from the inner city who are all into hip-hop as a cultural lifestyle, and yet it seems like our music, our ways of communicating, our attire, and our attitude is not very hip-hop oriented. It seems very hypocritical that we would make such a strong effort to incorporate African, Latino, or Asian culture into ours, and yet we leave hip-hop out of that process.
You might be thinking that it’s a race issue at this point, but I would disagree. We haven’t reached a state of perfect harmony between Blacks and Whites in our church, but we’ve done a lot to embrace Black music and culture. However, it is a different generation, the boomers, that we’ve been focused on. There are a lot of Black boomer folk who can’t stand hip-hop and until they start to reach out to the next generation, there’s not much that I can do. (Julia Richer is doing a great job of embracing hip-hop with our youth choir.)
As we get ready for our annual Black History Program, I hope that we can reach out at least a little bit to the hip-hop culture. At this year’s program, we’ll have a guest musician, Dishon Knox, who is a student at Covenant Seminary (here’s a rap that Dishon wrote about the Presbyterian Church of America). I’m glad he’s helping us. I’m sure it will be an awkward moment as the normally boisterous NCF crowd becomes uncomfortable with how to respond to this music, but of course, awkward moments are a natural result of ministering across cultures.
Kanye West and Hip Hop in our Church