Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Christians Need To Stop Using The "F-Word"

I’m so tired of hearing Christians use the “f-word.”

No, I’m not talking about the atomic bomb of blue language, but still the word “faggot” should not be in our vocabulary. I don’t want to see it on Twitter, hear it on your mixtape, or notice it drop out of your mouth after a church service.

Just stop. It’s derogatory and damaging – both to the person you’re insulting and to the cause of Christ.

Can you imagine using similar terms to describe people?

“Hey Tommy, would please pray about joining our ‘Feed the Bums’ ministry?”

Or what about “Hey Trina, you need to drop your slutty ways and just come to Jesus?”

See how foreign that sounds?

So please, let’s eliminate that language from our mouths. Same for “no homo” and any other gay joke talk.

Do you really think Christ sees their sin as any different from our own? Thank goodness there’s not insult name for everything I do.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rhymefest talks about "Prosperity," authentic Christianity, and Joel Osteen

Mainstream conscious rapper Rhymefest recently grabbed my attention with his “Prosperity” song and video that took aim at churches and pastors that seem to be more concerned with commerce than spiritual significance.

Interestingly enough, the Grammy-winning co-author of Kanye’s “Jesus Walks” is a Muslim by faith but definitely seems to respect and be attracted to our Savior.

I got to interview him for Rapzilla.com about the song and a number of other issues including his most positive experiences with Christianity.

Rhymefest: The most powerful, positive experiences that I’ve had with church are when people have their own Christian groups within their home - when they practice outside of the institution of the business of church. When people are trying to figure out answers, when people have prayer sessions for the sick and they come visit the sick, and they pray over them and people are in their basements.

When I’ve gone to those type of things that’s when I’ve seen the most genuine, authentic Christians. The most passionate Christians are the ones who get together. I mean, what does it mean to be religious? It means you do something religiously – a group of people get together and combine on praising the same, worshipping the same way.

I think that when people do that, you know, that’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing and the best way that I’ve seen it is when people do it within a community or home.

I have problems with “mega church.” Mega churches, I just, I have problems with it. I have problems with churches that get involved in politics. I have problems with churches that take corporate sponsorship or government money. So the most positive Christians that I’ve seen, that I believe are more authentic, are the Christians who say “We’ll do this thing within our home and we’ll have a spiritual leader and we’ll learn together and we’ll grow together.” I think that’s better for the community - smaller church.

You know who I love? What’s that guy with the curly hair? What is his name? A white guy. He has a huge church. He’s on TV all the time. He talks about health and wellness…

Sketch: Oh, Joel Osteen?

R: Yo! I LOVE that dude!

S: He’s right here in Houston where I’m at actually.

R: I watch him as much as I can. Man, I really like that guy. I like that guy better than like, a lot of the other guys that I’ve seen. He comes across as just a beautiful person and not only because he’s a handsome guy with a beautiful family, but because he’s so tender with his flock, you know? And he doesn’t preach, he teaches. And he inspires. So I like him.

S: Yeah. Would you not consider him to have a mega church or to be a prosperity preacher? Because a lot of people I know probably would is why I ask that.

R: I think he is, but, within this talking about prosperity preachers, let me also say this - some people are better off there.

Some people I understand have a need to belong to something. They have a need to belong. The problem you have is when these people start setting themselves up as God. When they start saying, you know, “Follow me.” Then it stops being a message from the Lord that teaches. You’ve got some people that just want to maintain power.

I like his message of wellness and health. But I’m conflicted about the T. D. Jakes and the Creflo Dollars because, although I know that what they’re doing is wrong in the eyes of the Lord, what they’re doing is dead wrong, they are helping some people. Some people need that.

But I think the mistake is that if those people are following those ministers and not ultimately following the Lord that’s just… in their heart, that’s for God to decide, not me.

Catch the rest of our conversation, including Fest’s thoughts on Muslim/Christian relations, problems in the American black church, and Christian hip hop at Rapzilla.com.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Houston rap label combats dirty dance craze with techno album


Seeking to fill a musical void, the creative forces at Houston’s Much Luvv Records have crafted Luvv to Dance – a 21 track “techno rap” dance album that features over 50 Christian hip hop and rock artists dropping street verses on top of club-friendly beats and hooks.

“We know we’re not the first to do it, but the pop/dance/rap subgenre is still not very established within our market,” Much Luvv Records CEO Bobby “Tre9” Herring said.

“Our aim with this project is to penetrate the hearts of kids and young adults who really vibe to that type of music. If you turn on the radio or MTV you’ll see that this is the style that dominates. Go to any church in the suburb and, unfortunately, you’ll see it’s not much different. So why not use that to our advantage to spread the gospel?”

Much Luvv Vice President & Executive Producer Jimmie A. McDowell managed the Luvv to Dance project, seeking track submissions from Christian hip hop’s top producers and then matching those beats to artists with established relationships with the label.

The result includes unique pairings like Gospel Gangstaz & 007 (formerly of the 5th Ward Boyz) with singer Martay on a bouncer called “Testify,” Dre' Murray and rock singer Spradley (formerly of Type Nine) going electro pop on "Move Me," and Sean Slaughter, The WARRIORS ATX, and Justin Michaels of The Access offering the upbeat “Your Chance to Dance.”

“I think people are going to be both surprised and impressed with the collaborations we’re able to offer on this album,” McDowell said. “I know we were.”

McDowell noted that several track submissions took a different turn than originally expected. For example, big AL chose to sing, instead of rap, his lyrics on “Party (Let’s Dance),” and many of the rock vocalists ended up sounding like natural born techno artists.

“I’m also excited about Whuteva and Ren Patrick’s ‘1-2-Many’ song about the negative effects of overindulging alcohol, Christafari and Von Won’s reggae track, and the fact that hip hop legend Kurtis Blow will be featured on this album,” McDowell said.

Part of the promotional efforts for the project’s release included a Create-A-Dance-Craze contest (think Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em's "Crank Dat Superman" or the GS Boyz "Stanky Leg") for the song “Keep On” from the album. Youth groups submitted their original routine to the label and the winner will be featured in the song’s music video and at the official CD release concert being held this weekend.

"Our Christian youth rarely have the opportunity to create their own dances, mainly due to Christian hip hop artists ignoring the need,” Herring said. “God created His children with talent and originality and now we will bring that out in them through this competition."

Undoubtedly, the simple fact that this project is being pushed as a “dance record” may raise a few eyebrows with conservative Christians who fear a worldly club influence on their kids. However, Tre9 offers assurances that Luvv to Dance will only do the opposite of encouraging sin.

“None of the content here will lead you to do anything foul,” Herring said. “In fact, it would be really hard to nasty dance in the midst of all our Jesus lyrics and not feel convicted.”

McDowell also points out that many Christian houses of worship have already transformed their youth areas into club-like atmospheres that offer a positive alternative space to those found outside the church.

“And even Scripture tells us there’s ‘a time to weep and a time to laugh / a time to mourn and a time to dance’” McDowell said quoting Ecclesiastes 3:4.

The official Luvv to Dance CD release concert takes place this Saturday, August 21 from 5pm to 9pm at Champions Community Center (1311 Bammel N Houston Rd). Admission is free.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5 Reasons To Go See a Listener Show


1. He can rap his punctuation.

It was just a one-time thing (and thankfully not an ongoing gimmick), but I still flip when I hear Listener verbalize the punctuation of his lines on deepspace5's "Stick This In Your Ear."

I had not hear anyone attempt this before him and haven't heard anyone try it after. Classic!

(Behold this beautiful verse at the 3:00 mark of this clip.)

2. He rocks Three Wolf shirts and killer mustaches.

'Nuff said.

3. He has the most interesting merch table around.

A typical layout includes unicorn statues (not for sale), handmade leather visors (for sale), and self-printed CDs (you'll definitely want one.) Oh yeah, you might also stumble upon something like this:


4. He uses a washing machine as a percussion instrument.

And not just in videos. He hauls one of these babies around to every show and occasionally has to buy replacements in tour cities. And believe me, it bangs.

Watch and listen:

5. He produces undeniably original art.

Although originally known for his backpack-like underground rap as part of Labklik and the deepspace5 collective, Listener (aka Dan Smith) is now forging a career in what he calls "talk music" that is equal parts hip hop, spoken word, punk rock, and performance art.

A recent album told the story of a traveling knife salesman from Arkansas. No, seriously. It was even accompanied by a show with similar props and infomercials.

And while it may not be for everybody, it can certainly be appreciated for its unique and creative nature.

If nothing else, it's a welcome reprieve from the 5-song, Michael W. Hillsong playlist you'll hear on KSBJ.

The Listener performs tonight with electrofolk artist Christin Nelson.

Wooden Hearts Tour @ Shadowplay Lounge
8000 Macbeth Way Suite #160,
The Woodlands, TX 77382

Set: 8pm
Tickets: $5.00
All ages

Monday, August 9, 2010

RECAP: 2010 En Sound Music Awards

The 2010 En Sound Music Awards were held in Houston this past Saturday to honor the best in independent gospel music.

DaSouth.com was given a Trailblazer Award for contributions to the advancement of Christian hip hop and also helped coordinate the nomination and voting process for that genre's top categories.

Photos, video, and a list of the night's winners are below.

DaSouth.com co-owner Bobby "Tre9" Herring & En Sound Music Awards founder Delroy Souden

CY and his krump dance crew (now in safari attire) debuted a new cut called "Godzilla" (aka God's Illa)

Sketch the Journalist, Tre9, and Tee Douglas (widow of DaSouth.com founder Richie "s/ave" Douglas)

Still Trill Christians performed their hit song "No Sex"

The En Sound Music Award hip hop category winners, as nominated and voted upon by DaSouth.com users, were:

Hip Hop Artist of the Year

* Tedashii
* Richie Righteous (WINNER)
* Thi'sl
* Wildchild

Hip Hop Song of the Year

* "Air Jordan" - k-Drama
* "Who You Represent" - Richie Righteous (WINNER)
* "I'm A Believer" - Tedashii
* "Awesome God" - R-Swift

Hip Hop Album of the Year

* "Underground Elevation Part 1: The Movement" - Wildchild
* "Chronicles of an X-Hustler" - Thi'sl
* "R.I.C.H." - Richie Righteous (WINNER)
* "Identity Crisis" - Tedashii

Next year's En Sound Music Awards will be held in Atlanta, GA. Stay tuned to ensoundmusicawards.org for more details.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Grim Reaper is My Homeboy?

"Die Tonight" by Kadence from Positive Hip Hop on Vimeo.

Kadence’s new “Die Tonight” music video recently hit the web. It has a great message that the artist is spiritually prepared to surrender his life at the drop of a hat but features a Grim Reaper character that leaves me a bit confused.

In the clip he’s mostly played for laughs by doing some break dancing and goofing with the artist and his crew at the end of the story.

My feeling is that this waters downs the message. Instead of contemplating the realities of death on this earth I find myself thinking of the comical "Scream" character played in the “Scary Movie” Wayans Brothers parodies.

What's your take? Do you think the Grim Reaper character adds or detracts from the song's message?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

En Sound Music Awards Come to Houston to Honor Independent Gospel Artists & DaSouth.com


It’s a story that celebrates both “The Underdog” and “The Comeback.”

After taking a two-year hiatus to regroup and reprioritize, the East Coast-based En Sound Music Awards and Conference (ESMAC) regains its public profile with a schedule of events taking place this weekend at Houston’s Greater St. Matthews Baptist Church.

The ESMAC was started in 2006 by Delroy Souden to recognize independent gospel artists – a community he felt was often ignored by other awards shows that tend to cater to major-label acts. After several years of personally bankrolling the event and struggling as an indie gospel music performer in his own right, Souden almost called it quits.

“I had reached a point where I wanted to shut the doors of En Sound and came very close to doing so last October. After many prayers and the advice of close friends, here we are energized with a new sense of purpose, outlook and an awesome team of hard-working people, all of whom are focused and ready to make it a huge success,” Souden said.

Part of En Sound’s restructuring involved asking the Houston-based DaSouth.com website to oversee its nomination and selection process for the awards in the Christian hip hop categories.

DaSouth.com co-owner Bobby “Tre9” Herring said his organization accepted fan nominations and voting in order to determine the night’s biggest rap winners.

“This way we reflect artists who truly have credentials that deserve recognition and those that know how to mobilize their fanbase to action,” Herring said. “I think the fair and balanced approach En Sound took here should be commended.”

Christian rapper Pettidee at a previous En Sound Music Award Show

On Saturday night, Herring’s DaSouth.com company will also be presented with the “En Sound Trailblazer Award” for their contributions to the advancement of Christian hip hop.

“Even after 13 years in this genre, guys like us rarely get honored this way,” Herring said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

Trophies will also be handed out in 18 other categories including reggae, urban contemporary and traditional gospel. Performers include the Still Trill Christians and Chozen (two groups from Houston) along with artists like Lisa McClendon, Deanna Ransom, Earnest Pugh, Chiquita Green, and Jumbo from across the United States and abroad.

The En Sound Music Awards & Conference will take place from August 6-8 at Houston’s Greater St. Matthews Baptist Church – 14919 South Main Street. For more information on this event, visit ensoundmusicawards.org.