Kendrick Lamar & Challenging the Status Quo

“I’m not interested in attending church to hear the same sermons. You’re there to learn and grow spiritually, raise questions and go deeper. Most people are just there to check off something on a list so I need to find something new.”–my Dad.

My mom didn’t understand this logic (she doesn’t have to though since they’re divorced) and feels that his not attending church is strange. However, my mom is also the same woman who attends a church REGULARLY that she hates because she doesn’t know what else to do. I mean something is better than nothing, right?? Wrong.

I wrote a sermon while in seminary using the metaphor of Jesus as the ultimate hip hop emcee. I remember while writing the sermon, I was looking back at Jesus on the cross realizing this is the ultimate form of protest. He threw all of his chips in the ring and was basically like “What are you going to do?!” If you believe in the resurrection, you realize his murderers thought they showed him…but in fact they did not. In the 00’s, Puffy aka Sean Combs aka Didddy aka P Diddy did a song with Nas called “Hate Me Now” and recreated the crucifixion. Pretty controversial for the time, but in hindsight that is nothing compared to what we see now. I played this song on loop as I wrote my sermon, ready to preach such a bold statement for my preaching class. It worked. In a class full of eager seminarians ready to challenge the status quo at all costs…it definitely worked!  We learn all these great things about theology and biblical history ready to share with congregations, only to learn that the status quo is all people are really interested in hearing. “When in Rome” theology prevails.

Yesterday, Kendrick Lamar, along with Big Sean and Jay Electronica dropped a track called “Control”. It essentially put the hip hop game on notice. They’re not here to just say what the label or mainstream media  want them to say; they’re here to challenge you as a hip hop nation. Kendrick’s surprise verse had Twitter and all social media on fire, ready to hear responses to Kendrick’s call to arms.

I’m usually homeboys with the same n***** I’m rhymin wit, but this is hip hop  and them n***** should know what time it is…I got love for yall but I’m tryna murder you n*****. I’m tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n*****.

He named names, something that hasn’t been done in years, saying “come for him”. This challenge had me excited, texting friends, wondering who will be the first to respond. I’m not excited because I want to see violence (like so many people think hip hop is about) but I’m excited because this should inspire artistic creation. Elevate the craft of rhyming. Let us see your lyrical ability or are you just here for the drugs and money…

It would be nice if someone in the pulpit, with power and an audience, would challenge the status quo. Instead of claiming persecution every time someone criticizes or contradicts fundamental Christian views, investigate and critically think about your own craft. Simply because fundamental Christianity still manages to prevail does not mean it is right or should just be accepted. Where are the people who see more in theology and have a deeper understanding to challenge people to grow spiritually, socially, mentally, and yes, sexually?  Where are the voices, with a large audience, calling people to step aside from the pack and speak a truth that unites all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, etc.? Raise your voice. Challenge the status quo…what are you in this for?


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