Friday, October 29, 2010

"I think I'm Big Meech/Larry Hoover...."

I was reading a blog I frequent when I came across an interesting question. A popular nineties rapper, who shall remain nameless, is completely dumbfounded by the success of William Roberts BKA Rick Ross. He doesn't understand how a correctional officer turned rapper can lie about his drug lifestyle and still be a number one selling artist who raps about, well...dealing drugs. I will try to answer his question in this blog post.

To begin, most people who listen to music, especially secular rap music, with its women, cars, parties, drugs and other decadence, haven't really experienced the thrills of the lifestyle. Even still, we rap right along with Baby when he boasts about "big mansions," and Drake when he brags about "champagne showers," and yes, even with Rick Ross when he proclaims to the world that he is on the same level as the one time mastermind of a multi million dollar drug ring

Rap gives us a reason to nod our heads and and opportunity to live vicariously through the hyper masculinity and/or overt sexuality presented by the artists. We download the songs, preview the albums or keep our stations locked to the local Hip Hop radio stations, waiting for the 4 or 5 minutes that we can get away. 

I vividly remember listening to Dead Prez during my freshmen year of college while getting ready for class every morning. A friend put me on to them during my senior year of high school and I never looked back until after the Lord called me several years later. They had an infectious and conscience rap hit out at the time, titled Hip Hop. Not familiar with Dead Prez? Well, to put it bluntly, they are a militant rap group with ties to Pan Africanism and the Black Panther Party. On one hand, they rapped about discipline and intellectualism. They even had a cool take on Orwell's Animal Farm called Animal in Man. On the other hand, the also rapped about the overthrow of the U.S. government and, get this, the futility of attending public schools and universities. Isn't it Ironic? Let's Get Free let me be the angry, rebellious woman I was afraid to be and I loved it. Did I love it enough to quit college, join a commune and become a vegan? NOPE. Truth is, I wasn't a revolutionary. I just played one in front of the mirror of my second floor dorm room. 

This fact didn't stop a condescending smirk from forming on my lips when I saw a car of blondes riding in a drop top convertible singing Trick Daddy's I'm A Thug about a year later. What on earth did they know about being a thug or being discriminated against for having the sad misfortune of being poor and black? Well, they knew about as much about it as I knew when I was 11 years old, singing "Rolling down the street/Smoking endo/Sippin' on Gin and Juice"--absolutely nothing.

In short, rap music for most people is primarily entertainment. Pure escapism. It's always been this way, but I think the rapper who originally posed the question has forgotten this. We all forget this sometimes. I understand that there are people who enjoy these songs and actually engage in the behavior discussed in the lyrics. They really are out shooting people, getting high everyday and being super promiscuous. The rest of us are just looking for a temporary thrill and a dope beat.

There are other aspects of this phenomenon which could and should be examined, but it's getting late.


Disclaimer: This is just a social commentary. I'm not advocating the purchase or support of any of the music/artists listed above. (Should I really have to type this??) *sigh*

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Facebook characters

I've been on Facebook since 2005. I've seen interesting characters emerge in this time. Below is a list of the most notable.

  1. The Hated: These people are ALWAYS being hated on. I can never really understand why, but each day they post another rant about people hating on them and their life achievements. Whether it be their recent purchase of a '97 Pontiac Grand Am or finishing up their degree at Everest College, haters just don't want to see them living large.
  2. The Random Capitalization Crew: The rules are capitalization are quite easy. Always use a capital letter when writing/typing proper nouns and the first word of sentences. The RCCs don't respect these rules and for this they must die (or be hidden). Nothing is quite as annoying as scrolling down my news feed only to see a status message tYpeD LiKe THis. Why do people do this? It's much more difficult to type this way. It's unnatural and hard on the eyes. 
  3. The Three Namers: Okay. I don't use my real name on Facebook. Why? Well, because I already have my face in over 100 pictures. Call me crazy, but I think pairing my name and my face on the internet is asking for problems in the future. Many Facebook fans have chosen to use their real names and many women include their maiden and married names to avoid confusion and to assist others in finding them in searches. When I think of the "three namers" I think of people like: John Morethanjustanoption Smith, Tanisha QueenBee Hall, and Andre BigThangsPoppin Holloway. My message to them. Please stop.
  4. The Wise Old Owls: These are the Facebook friends who put up like 10 cliched quotes a day about success. They have the answers to all of life's problems...and if they don't, they know a dead person who does. 
  5. The Likers: They've never seen a page, group, photo album or status message they didn't disagree with. They people "like" about 50 things a day. They even like their own status message updates. They're a happy, simple people. Easy to please.
  6. The Gamers: Ever looked to the left side of your home page and noticed that you have 74  game requests? Thank the gamers. Whether it's Farmville, Mafia Wars or Sorority Life, these Facebook friends live to play, especially during the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. So...don't be rude. Go help them on their farm, join their gang or become a member of their sorority...or...just do what I do and ignore most of the requests (unless it's Family Feud #judgeme)
  7. The Theologians:  They read Spurgeon, Packer, Macarthur and Piper. They ponder the implications of Christ's atonement. They study the Protestant Reformation all day long. They are the theologians. Always ready with a relevant Bible verse, they fill your feed with nuggets notes and thoughts from their daily devotions. They also post hymn lyrics.... Actually beneficial most days.
  8. The Models: You love them. You hate them. You know they have seahorses on their shower curtains due to all the bathroom mirror shots they've posted. You are familiar with their entire wardrobe. You know the interior of their car is gray leather. They fill your news feed with at least 5-10 mobile uploads a day. They've perfected the duck lips and they know they look best when photographed from the left side. #hateisawastedemotion
  9. The Randoms: They rarely post new status messages and when they do, it's always something random like: "I'm hungry" or "Just saw a squirrel on a trashcan eating a lifesaver" or "Ligers>Tigons"
  10. The News Reporters: They give you the latest on topics ranging from sports to politics. Love them or hate them, you wouldn't know half of what you know without them. You don't need a newspaper if you have at least 5 reporters on your friends list.
That's all I've got, but I'm sure more exist.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"....that you may KNOW..."

My pastor is currently doing sermons on a range of requested topics until we get into our next book study (2 Timothy?). The last two were especially invigorating to me due to my current spiritual state/challenges. The topics were "Assurance" and "Christian Liberty"

I don't have my notes on me, but I'd like to suggest 1 John for anyone struggling with assurance. He gave us five points from the text so that we who "... believe in the name of the Son of God...may know" (1Jn 5:13) we have eternal life. He warned us not to look at these points as things to do to earn eternal life, but rather to see if these things were present in our lives. Four of the points were as follows, if I'm remembering correctly.
  1. Growing intolerance/enmity for the world (not the physical earth, but rather all cultural/societal world views that defy and/or seek to replace God and the law of God). 1 Jn. 2:15 and following
  2. Growing aversion to sin. 1 Jn. 3:1-10
  3. Love of the brethren/fellow brothers and sisters in the faith (not just in word but in deed). 1 Jn. 3:11 and following
  4. Desire to glorify God through practice of avoid sin/keeping commandments. 1 Jn. 5:1-5
I'm sure the last one must be faith in the person and work of the biblical Christ (outlined in 1 Jn. 2:18-25, 5:6-12), but I'm unsure.

So then, if we see this fruit in our lives, we can have some assurance that we've been born again. If we do not see this fruit we can still, as long as we have breath in our lungs, throw ourselves at the mercy of God (if we've actually realized our need for Christ's sacrifice, his holiness and our utter sinfulness). Funny how even in challenging us to examine ourselves, God still offers us mercy and grace through Christ. That's good news.

I really did love how he stressed that DOING these things doesn't earn salvation. Still figuring things out, learning things and seeking to understand God's grace. 

Anyway this was written in haste, so please excuse any typos...

God be with you.