Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Canton Jones Should NOT Explain “In Da Club”


On Friday, October 1 Canton Jones leaked an intriguing new track titled “In Da Club” to various online Christian music media outlets.

Its chorus goes “They done let them ______ in the club! Oh my God! They done let them ______ in the club!” As the song continues, several other words are muted in the same way that TV and radio stations offer “clean” versions of explicit mainstream rap records.

The effect is jarring. And just three days later, the Internet world is promised an explanation by Jones via DJ Will from Jacksonville’s radio show.

This will be a mistake.

1. It’s highly doubtful CaJo is covering up curse words.

If you hear this song and mentally fill in the blanks with that type of verbiage it says more about you than it does Canton Jones.

Didn’t Luke record Jesus telling us “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”?

Are those negative words a part of your daily vocabulary or regular media diet? If so, then maybe it’s time to consider a change.

Also, it’s not like Canton has ever held his tongue before. Just months ago he dropped the God the Father mixtape that contained un-bleeped verses with the words “nigga” and “faggot” in the lyrics. (Two word choices I considered a mistake.) Has he just recently taken up the practice of self-censorship?

2. Good art can speak for itself.

Too often, exhaustive and detailed explanations by artists do a disservice to their work. Christians are especially guilty of this - perhaps out of a fear they’ll be misinterpreted or not seen as being holy enough for their peers.

One of this summer’s biggest movies was Inception. A large part of what made it great was that it didn’t give its viewers a neatly wrapped, tidy ending. Instead, it was left up to them to decide what the closing scene meant to the story as a whole.

The same goes for the highly-regarded TV drama LOST. Before May’s series finale the creators specifically stated that they would go on “radio silence” for six months after the last episode aired to allow time for fans to digest, discuss, and debate the episode’s contribution to the show’s overall canon.

Instead of talking about what Canton intended “In Da Club” and its missing lyrics to mean, why don’t we start conversations about how they resonated with each one of us?

• Was he trying to hide his faith with the goal of securing mainstream airplay?
• Was he making a statement about how his music would be edited on a secular station?
• Did he really say something like “nigga,” remember how people reacted to it on God the Father, and change his mind about including that word here?
• Is he trying to get us to consider what words we would use to fill in those blanks?
• Will he release an un-edited version of the song in the future?

All of those questions and their subsequent answers by listeners of all walks of life are infinitely more interesting than hearing Jones explain what he wanted us to hear.

Mystery often adds beauty and a deeper layer of interest to a narrative. Jesus didn’t spell out all of his parables to his disciples. It’s part of the reason why they’re some of the most interesting and thought-provoking sections of Scripture. Why can’t we follow a similar example in Christian hip hop?

And from a sheer marketing perspective, leaving a bit of ambiguity on the table can also drive interest. You didn’t see Lecrae tossing out an easy explanation for that Rehab symbol two days after it appeared online did you?

No, the anticipation for that announcement built and added to the intrigue of his album (which subsequently took the third overall chart position on iTunes the day it dropped.)

I’m not saying “In Da Club” doesn’t ever deserve an explanation. I’m simply advocating for a little more space.

Let it breathe Canton. Let it breathe. I think we’ll all be better off for it.

1 comment:

Matt McMains said...

Don't necessarily disagree with who overall purpose here. I agree that an explanation will be needed; as to when I don't really have an opinion as I am not a Canton Jones listener (not that I don't like him, just not familiar with his stuff at this point).

However, I would disagree with a lot of the argument. Saying that if these lines cause one to imagine cuss words inserted says more about the heart of the listener doesn't make sense to me. I don't care how pure someone's heart and mind is, "don't let em________in da club..." naturally assumes a curse word.

You may be right on the 'mystery' idea, where mystery is intriguing for the listeners; however, in this case there is not much mystery. Not sure what else you could insert in there. In other words, not a lot of options to fill in the blank with without some sort of explanation from the writer.

Lecrae did actually put out a video explanation of his symbol, which I myself don't think was necessary, but perhaps helpful. There was nothing in the symbol to cause one to come to some of the conclusions that were drawn by a very few misguided individuals. However, in this case the majority of listeners are going to be wondering why Canton is bleeping out curse words (whether he is or not) simply because that is what it implies.

Anyway, I should probably listen to the song before getting into this discussion, but those are just my thoughts off the cuff. Appreciate your perspective.