Around this time almost three years ago I found myself troubled by and critical of a group of Christians using the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Muslim extremist terminology to advance a personal agenda.
And while I won’t go so far as to say that GodChaserz Entertainment’s promotion of Jovan MacKenzy’s Jihad album rose to the same level of distaste as Rev. Terry Jones’ threat to burn copies of the Qur’an on that date, I was recently reminded of a time when Christian hip hop pushed the envelope into similar treacherous territory and how we were ultimately able to overcome those differences and redeem a relationship.
Along with the title and 9/11 release date, MacKenzy’s album included cover art with Arabic font faces and Crusades-era battle imagery. In my review for Rapzilla.com I noted that:
I can honestly say I never got a real Christian vs. Islam vibe from the project, but I definitely got a "Let's-exploit-their-terminology-and-imagery-in-our-promo" feeling.At the time, GodChaserz Entertainment president Brinson took issue with my critique. On my personal blog, he posted that his company defined “jihad” as a “holy war” or “personal struggle.”
Maybe that's the issue.
1. It's tacky and exploitative – particularly from one who claims to follow the teachings of Jesus.
2. It doesn't even make sense. Once you get past the cover and suspicious drop date you don't really get the "Us vs. Them" or "conversion-by-force" thematic sense from the rest of the album.
The packaging (not just the physical thing, but the whole concept, 9/11 date, etc.) doesn't match the content. When that outer wrapping is offensive and distasteful to boot, you're just doing yourself a disservice.
He said “Since we are not Islamic, the holy war (jihad) we declared was on SIN.”
And to GodChaserz' credit, an indie label with 15 titles under its belt, none of their releases after Jihad carried anything close to this tone.
Brinson's last album also dealt with the inner battle between flesh and spirit, but was more appropriately named Escaping Me. His latest, OMG, flips a popular text term to express his literal awe at the greatness of our Creator.
Thankfully, Brinson is a solid, rational brother in Christ. And after my initial critique, we were able to civilly discuss our differences and continued to build our friendship beyond just a surface critic/artist/CEO relationship.
In fact, this became a topic of discussion during my video interview with him during a recent stop in Houston.
Oh how I wish this Qur’an-burning business could be similarly solved.
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Comments start around the 0:40 second mark.
You'll also get to hear more of Brinson's heart in additional interview segments that will be posted next week.)