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You down wit G.O.D.? (yeah you know me)
December 14, 2004 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Christian Gangsta Rap is the hottest new thang, G (and we're talking about tha big "G" if ya know watta mean). Make sure to check out "God Side Jam" by "Preachas in Tha Hood" or the "Gospel Gangstaz" with their hit song "Holy Tera" and who can forget the timeless classic "Demon Killa" by "Str8 Young Gangstaz" (not t be confused with the evil Gay Ol' Prankstaz)
posted by Hands of Manos (66 comments total)

 
I blame DC Talk.
posted by brownpau at 9:57 AM on December 14, 2004


All the people say "stomp".

GP are you with me?
posted by billysumday at 9:58 AM on December 14, 2004


Aw, yeah - cool youth pastors on tha' mike!
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:06 AM on December 14, 2004


A newbie I like!

Yay!

This is...well, not GOOD, but...good. You know. Like good as in bad. Where bad means good.

Oh, forget it.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2004


This might last if they can find some new themes. The christian theme is pretty limiting. All the christian pop I've heard is basically the same message: "God is really big; I like him a lot; and you are a fool if you don't agree." Some songs pick just one of these messages, but there's a distinct lack of topics anyway.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:10 AM on December 14, 2004


Mayor Curley, I've been saying that about "christian rock" for years.
posted by u.n. owen at 10:13 AM on December 14, 2004


I wonder if you can get these Ghetto Gospel songs on Kazaa? is that wrong?
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2004


I will take the time to mention Kanye West, whose song "Jesus Walks" is about Jesus and yet still manages to sound cool. It was a big hit this year and you can stream audio/video of it off his website.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2004


i always thought christian rock was more likely to substitute god or jesus for the girl. Instead of 'Girl, I wanna git wit you', it would be 'God, I wanna git wit you'
posted by petri at 10:17 AM on December 14, 2004


Plenty of hip-hop and R&B artists address spiritual and religious themes of Christian and other variety in their music all the time. Just like there are artists like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, U2, T-Bone Burnett, Maria Muldaur and others, who are self-proclaimed Christians as well. But you'll rarely see them in CCm magazine or shilled on the 700 Club. This is because in this context "Christian" is more amarketing category (or a political one) than a spiritual one.


We now return to today's "Har! Har! Them Xtians shore is funny!" thread.
posted by jonmc at 10:20 AM on December 14, 2004


Har! Har! Them Xtians shore is funny!

I'd like to say "har har! them xtian markerting ploys shore is making Jesus out to be a mockery."

From my very limited knowledge of other religious groups:

Jews: Rigorous training during their childhood
Buddhists: a very serious and meditative state
Protestant Christians: Vacation Bible School. Christian Weightlifters, Marketing, Marketing, Marketing, Marketing, Bible Man, marketing, marketing, marketing

It just saddens me to see Jesus, (whether he's just a man, or a god) get made so much fun of by the people that choose to follow his teachings and belief system.
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2004


"Har! Har! Them Xtians shore is funny!"

You're suggesting through the use of dialect that the non-believers are coarse and rural?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2004


There is an ID3 tag for "Christian Gangster Rap" and I always used to put it as the Genre for everything I ever ripped, just because it was so fucking funny.
posted by afx114 at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2004


You're suggesting through the use of dialect that the non-believers are coarse and rural?

That is, in fact, the very etymology of the term "pagan."
posted by deanc at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2004


You're suggesting through the use of dialect that the non-believers are coarse and rural?

Nah. It's the same generic "dumb redneck" dialect everybody here puts on when they want to portray "dumb." I figure turnabout is fair play. And contains a fun dose of irony.
posted by jonmc at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2004


What about T Bone, the Last Street Preacha? He raps in English, Spanish and Spanglish!


Yes, I'm quoting a review
posted by O9scar at 10:36 AM on December 14, 2004


As said before, the Christian label is little more than a marketing bracket to appeal to them -- and, of course, it's "clean". The downside is that the "Christian" sound is usually a good 3-5 years behind the "secular" sound and is accompanied by lyrics that seem to insult the intelligence of nearly any listener.

What's gansta rap without bitches, hoes, and capin' niggas' ? Sort of lacks the whole 'gansta' theme, don't [sic] it?
posted by ThePrawn at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2004


Rap hasn't always been completely secular.

In fact, many phrases that are associated with rap actually have religious connotations. Not Christian per se, but muslim.

Or, to be more specific, the 5% Nation of Islam. The phrase "What up, G" has nothing to do with money, or 'gangstas', but instead is short for "What up, God", and is a reference to the 5% Nation's belief that the black man is the embodiment of god.

There are prominant hip-hop acts that were and are five percenters, such as the Digable Planets, Gang Starr, Eryka Badhu, and the Wu Tang Clan.
posted by icey at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2004


Ah. I forgot to link to more information.
posted by icey at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2004


Those xian rappers sure love their caps lock.
posted by adampsyche at 10:56 AM on December 14, 2004


"Str8 Young Gangstaz" (not t be confused with the evil Gay Ol' Prankstaz)

Are you sure they don't mean they're str8 with God? Perhaps they actually love a bit of cock.
posted by biffa at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2004


Ah, the 5%ers, Islam's equivalent of Christian Identity. Both tend to have a lot of recruits in prisons, which stands to reason, since you tell people that they're nothing often enough, they'll eventually come back claiming to be everything.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on December 14, 2004


icey. Just to be the devil's advocate (and just know that I'm looking for an answer, not picking a fight):

Gangsta rap is generally about violence, treating women as objects and prostitutes, money, vanity, wealth and drugs

What Up, G is a reference to that the black man is embodiment of God

Gangsta rap uses "What Up, G" a bunch in their songs acknowledging they are emobdied with God.

this poses a God who is for treating half the population (women) as "throw away property," violence is okay, drugs are a way to get your vanity/wealth fix.

That, to me, is Scary.

----

Now for the plot holes. Yes, I understand it's 5%. Yes, I actually like Digable Planets (as well as De La Soul <--man, they rock) . No, this has nothing to do with the color of skin (or me insinuating anything).

I'm just wanting to get your opinion, that's all.
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2004


Imitative Christian art simply insults the faith. Just like "It's ____, but now it's for men!" signifies an inferior, insulting product, "It's rock, but now it's about God!" is the hallmark of an isolationist idea that turns off both rockers and most Christians.

Brown, I'm hesitant to blame DC Talk because they actually had an extremely innovative, ahead-of-its-time album in "Free At Last." Another example of Christianity in art (as opposed to the inverse) is the most recent Sufjan Stevens release.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2004


oops, I forgot to say, Gangsta Rap...through the voice of Ice Cube was a good response to the social issues and was/is a big supporter of Islam.


now he's busy making kid's films about christmas
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2004


Imitative Christian art simply insults the faith. Just like "It's ____, but now it's for men!"

strong enough for a secular muscian, but made for a christian. Raise your hand, Raise your hand...if you're Sure!
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:07 AM on December 14, 2004 [1 favorite]


Wait a second. I thought all of this rap stuff was Christian rap...uh...when they win their Grammys they thank the big G gangsta all the time....
posted by asianmack at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2004


ugh...triple post:

Dc Talk (the later years). They, along with Steve Talyor, Six Pence, Newsboys, Evanessence (sp?), Creed, Jars of Clay tend to have a handle on "making a sound for themselves" rather than "He sounds JUST LIKE EMINIMENMINEM! ONly FOR JESUS!!!!!! CHECK OUT HIS NEW SONG: "SUPERMANGOD"

So yeah, some xian bands do try hard and they really, really, really, really, hate the label "xian" attached to them. Why can't more bands say "yeah, I have some beliefs...they come out in my songs sometimes."
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2004


"how many 'really' s is that"

"a lot"

Hands of Manos, we get what you're saying. it's more or less a variation on what I said upthread.
posted by jonmc at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2004


Another example of Christianity in art (as opposed to the inverse) is the most recent Sufjan Stevens release.

You beat me to it. Sufjan Stevens writes some amazing songs, and I wouldn't have known the ones I've heard were about God if I hadn't been told (though I may have suspected as much).

i always thought christian rock was more likely to substitute god or jesus for the girl. Instead of 'Girl, I wanna git wit you', it would be 'God, I wanna git wit you'

Yeah. Like Stevens singing "I'd do anything for you" and meaning God, not a girlfriend. But my girlfriend still likes it when I sing it to her.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2004


jonmc - I suppose I'm rather heated about this subject so I tend to get a little carried away on the keyboard with the word "really"

really, I really do (really)
posted by Hands of Manos at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2004


Stevens' "Seven Swans" was pretty easy to figure out, as scary as it was.
It was fantastic to hear a "Christian song" that was actually more than a joyful or moralizing viewpoint, but an account something Christians actually have an unrepresented perspective on. "Seven Swans" is a terrified observer's retelling of an apocalypse that actually happens, a belief that a lot of Christians hold but can usually supress.
As a Christian, I was extremely impressed that Sufjan was able to play off this weird fear and imagery that's been unaddressed by nagging since childhood.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2004


make that "unaddressed BUT nagging."
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:23 AM on December 14, 2004


God, I wanna git wit you

god's not that kind of girl!
posted by quonsar at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2004


I like two bands a lot: Low and Ester Drang. 2/3 of the former are Mormon, and the majority of the latter are Christian. They say, as anyone with faith likely would, they their beliefs likely influence their art.

So I love those bands, and respect them. But, like some have mentioned above, when you start talking about someone like Jars of Clay, etc, you see Christianity used as a marketing term, and then it starts to get sort of gross and annoying and then you wind up with videos on TBN and you are pigeonholed.

Why this happens to some bands as opposed others is sort of a mystery. I guess you have a lot of acts, like DC Talk, which make Christianity the focus of their work, whereas it might just trickle into a band like Low. This also makes me think of Low as more artful than a Jars of Clay, because they are making art first, and Jars of Clay is making a message first.

Or so it seems to me.
posted by xmutex at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2004


*shudders*
posted by vagus at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2004


i always thought christian rock was more likely to substitute god or jesus for the girl. Instead of 'Girl, I wanna git wit you', it would be 'God, I wanna git wit you'

Only if you are Eric Cartman. God, _that_ was funny.
posted by Lola_G at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2004


Catch the vapors in the papers
’bout the Christians evolvin’--
findin’ themes, memes
schemes for absolvin’
yo sins—puttin’ spins
on the rap about the Man
who began it an’ they plan it--
if you scan it--so they can
bang the rap about evolvin’
but they’re bitin’ our lines
(on their knees Siamese)
it ain’t ’bout it so I doubt it…
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2004


xmutex, part of this comes from the labels involved. Forefront and a few other select Christian labels are usually the only ones represented in your standard Family Christian Bookstore (or whatever). The store stocks whatever the labels send them, usually entirely unlistened to, and then the average consumer at these stores (me as a high schooler) purchases said music, often entirely unlistened to.
Working for Forefront is a guaranteed amount of money, because the people buying your music often won't be judging it based on musical taste at all. One of the most offending of these ideas was the band Hydro, a techno band whose CD contained not one spoken word. Yet, it was the only Christian techno in the store, so soon, enough, I knew tons of people who had it.
And a friend and I were all "WTH?" with "H" meaning "Heck."

But if faith is too underrepresented (this charge could be levelled against Low), you're "selling out" and your label gets nervous. This was why MxPx (really!) moved off of semi-Christian Tooth-And-Nail Records: They got a hit radio single from an album that didn't mention God once. People start to ask, "sure, their album has no swears and entirely innocent themese...but...is it CHRISTIAN music?" Problem!

Other bands (Like POD and Jars of Clay) have retained their Christian cred while gaining popularity, but it's a difficult balance. Jars of Clay has fallen out of favor among some Christians I know. Just like some Spoon fans got sad when new singles were getting airtime, the "Christian listener" can occasionally turn away from bands that grow into more varied subject matter and markets. Just like anyone else, they like having a niche. (But if memory serves me right, we all still got Jars of Clay CDs for every birthday, because our parents just picked up whatever was on the biggest display at the store.)

Final Thought: Christian music is sold to a different audience with different priorities, just like Britney Spears is sold to a different audience with different priorities and just like death metal is sold to a different audience with different priorities. Personally, I think all three sets are pretty odd, but if there's nothing truly intelligent about 'speaking out' against Hillary Duff or B*Witched, there shouldn't be anything truly intelligent about making fun of Christian bands. If you're going to express shock or mirth that people like music for other reasons than sheer musical value or talent, you should be having a field day right now.

Not that it isn't still fun occasionally.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2004


Beyonce Knowles puts a couple of gospel numbers on each of her CDs. For lots of people it's a perfectly ordinary way of making music. Many of the most realistic and serious lyrics (as opposed to bad love-affair and clubthumper lyrics) occur in gospel numbers.
posted by By The Grace of God at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2004


God, I wanna git with you

Sorry. God's Just Not That Into You.

Meanwhile: was Evenescence a christian band? Or was that label merely youthful indescretion?
posted by Sparx at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2004


Man... I'm liking the newbies.... It's very excellent to see this not turn into a "stupid christians" thread.... as so often is the case.

The toughest part about xian music is the fact that the good stuff is mostly on indie labels... and not available at the local "Family Christian Stores". The FCS is the only place that most young xians and teens end up shopping for music, and when I was a young teenager, - 92 or so, and was looking for music, my only option.

The internet has really helped spread the word about the indie labels, all indie labels, not just xian ones. I like to think that I'm pretty fimiliar with xian music, but hope that I've only scratched the surface and continue to scour the internet for new xian bands.

I know, no point, just adding my 2cents.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2004


Bah, it's all about marketing.

Jesus is the new Hello Kitty. Just slap his face on some cheap shit, sit back and wait for the money to roll in. I only wish I could be as truly cynical as James Dobson is - I'd quit my day job and devote my time to separating idiots from their money...

Suckers.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2004


If you're going to express shock or mirth that people like music for other reasons than sheer musical value or talent, you should be having a field day right now.

But it seems a little more distasteful when you're making music and religion into a generic market-catering product at the same time.

Although, it bears mentioning that this idea of catering to a religious musical market by churning out lots of simple and generic pieces is quite old...
posted by ludwig_van at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2004


I dunno, ludwig. Turning "Straight Edge" or "Sexy Young Girls" or "Suicidal Depression/Parents Don't Understand You" into marketing tools strikes me as equally distasteful sometimes.

But you have a point; it stings to see something that so prides itself in being above the world used to blandify another cultural attraction.
Still. I don't think anyone can say Christianity is the only such offendor.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2004


The tension between "message versus art" in Christian culture has always pained me. Franky Schaeffer's well-worn Addicted to Mediocrity is a good exploration of some of the issues.

The amusing part is the Evanescence, the group whose CD kicked off this controversy, got its start in the Christian music world. At large events like Cornerstone Festival, the issues often generate friction; those who err on the 'art' side are traditionally on the fringes of the Christian music world, and regarded suspiciously.

Little-known but prolific Bill Malone of the Vigilantes of Love is a great example. He's spent a decade and change writing achingly tight folk music about clinical depression, Pablo Picasso, sex, John the Baptist, love, and any other topic that's presented itself. He's a Christian, and there's no denying that fact when you look at the themes and threads that run through his work. Still, he's one of the 'Bad Boys' of the Christian Music scene, a sort of black sheep, because he writes about reality rather than writing to "evangelize."

That, I think, is the real difference. You can tell when someone's writing what's real to them, really gritty and true and real, whether it's sex or pain or joy or Jesus or Krishna or surfing.
posted by verb at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2004


Hands of Manos: I don't feel strongly about the nature of the music one way or the other, to be honest. I just thought it interesting to mention that this is a trend that has occurred before (religion as a source of message), and I'm sure it's a trend that will be subverted again (religion as an excuse for various excess).

Additionally, I may have mis-phrased my comment - the origin of what's up G is from 5% nation, but I get the feeling that it moved from God to Gangsta pretty quickly.
posted by icey at 1:02 PM on December 14, 2004


A newbie I like!

Yay!

&

Man... I'm liking the newbies....

thanks. I have a feeling there are a ton of newbies (like me) that have been chomping at the bit to make intelligent contributions.

look for my next post called "yo mama snaps" -- it's bound to spar many, many great discussions.
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:04 PM on December 14, 2004


but I get the feeling that it moved from God to Gangsta pretty quickly.

yep. I agree.

Much like the first guy that said "What Would Jesus Do?" was a pretty good method to live by (I mean, why not?...I wonder how many people said "what would jesus do?" when they thought that we should invade Iraq?)
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2004


Instead of 'Girl, I wanna git wit you', it would be 'God, I wanna git wit you'
Oh, Jesus I wanna get witcha / And read some scripture
posted by letourneau at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2004


while I was thinking...Christian and Ska music seemed to have made a nice marriage. While I can't remember ANY of the bands that do that, I know there are a lot of them...and, well, they played pretty well.

There is one group called Brave Saint Saturn...they have kind of a grungy bend to them and most of their music is about Nasa. they are technically under a christian label...but still most of their music is about Nasa. Who sings about Nasa!? In my book, they get an A++ for originality.

(but as far as xian clones go..maybe we'll have a Christian Britney Spears singing "Oops, I repented again")
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:16 PM on December 14, 2004


Hands: Ska: Five Iron Frenzy is the best. OC Supertones and Insyderz (*shudder*) are a few others.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 1:17 PM on December 14, 2004


Although, it bears mentioning that this idea of catering to a religious musical market by churning out lots of simple and generic pieces is quite old...

Bach is simple and generic? Get thee to a music theory class, pagan!
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2004


FIF, that's it!
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2004


FIF has been defunct for just over a year now. Reese Roper has a new band simply called Roper- check out http://roperisdumb.com - similar style lyrics, punky-pop sound, less ska. Brave Saint Saturn was another one of Reese's bands.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2004


Even though there's no actual rap involved, if you want the scary and violent in your, erm, inspirational music, I suggest Nick Cave. I was pretty surprised to hear shortly after I started getting into his music that he was a born-again Christian. He's certainly a stereotype breaker.
posted by picea at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2004


My understanding is that the Christian music industry took off when SoundScan (or whomever) started noting "Christian" (or "religious"?) music sales, and it blew the music industry away. That is, this previously niche market was moving product without any significant marketing. Then the major labels decided to capitalize on it and churn out bands that were "Christian," so they could make money. The market flooded with crappy musicians, leading to the issues stated above (namely, the "Christian" sound is usually a good 3-5 years behind the "secular" sound and is accompanied by lyrics that seem to insult the intelligence of nearly any listener. and "It's rock, but now it's about God!" is the hallmark of an isolationist idea that turns off both rockers and most Christians. and the good stuff is mostly on indie labels... and not available at the local "Family Christian Stores".). [On preview: The same thing happened with ska.]

Although some of his stuff is too mopey, I like Pedro the Lion's song "Forgone Conclusions":
You were too busy steering the conversation toward the Lord
To hear the voice of the Spirit saying "shut the fuck up"
You thought it must be the Devil trying to make you go astray
Besides it couldn't have been the Lord because you don't believe he talks that way
posted by Alt F4 at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2004


Nick Cave is Christian? I've been listening to him for years and never knew that.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned one of my fave (alt_country? no depression?) acts, 16 Horsepower, where at least the lead vocalist is a born-again. I'm not sure about the other band members. Really beautiful depressing violent stuff which usually cheers me up.

In terms of a more conventional Christian act, I used to really like Stavesacre. They were on Tooth and Nail and had fairly conventional Christian lyrics but performed them with such strength and passion that made the whole thing rather moving.

David Koresh actually had a nice body of work as well. I really liked some of his songs which really emphasized how intensely alone he was when he was without God.
posted by pandaharma at 2:06 PM on December 14, 2004


"and then God said 'stfu'"
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:06 PM on December 14, 2004


PtL is a Christian, by the way.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:32 PM on December 14, 2004


Creed had a handle on "making a sound for themselves"?

heh. Don't bogart those Christian drugs :)

(Nice post + discussion tho)
posted by First Post at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2004


I'm interested in listening to music by Moonies. This is the only link I could find and I get the distinct impression it's somewhat facetious:

http://www.netherworldnews.com/music0224.html

Oh well. There's always Ron. He's the Barry White of Scientology!

http://www.ronthepoet.org/p_jpg/lenvoi.htm
posted by fleetmouse at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2004


Hopefully the drivebys start sooner than later.
posted by baphomet at 7:05 PM on December 14, 2004


Yeah I'm a gangsta, but still I got Jeesusss
posted by VulcanMike at 7:53 AM on December 15, 2004


I wonder -- do Christians look at this music the way Jews look at 50 Shekel and 2 Live Jews? Or are there serious Jewish gangsta rappers too?
posted by VulcanMike at 8:27 AM on December 15, 2004


Christian music: the adbusters of pop culture?
posted by scheptech at 8:58 AM on December 15, 2004


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