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.