Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can music make you fight in a club or get closer to God in church?

The panel. Left to right: Bun B, Hilary Pradia, Pyrexx, Tre9, Pastor Craig D. Hayes, Kyia Driscol, and Hector Garcia. Photo by Rosalinda Chapa.

A few weeks ago on a balmy Saturday morning, a crowd of more than 100 students gathered for a Real Talk Teen Assembly at Willowridge High School to hear Bun B (UGK), Pyrexx (of ABN), and other rappers discuss the impact hip hop culture has on their lives.

One of the more interesting conversations that took place on the stage came when audience member (and Christian rapper) Gifted da Flamethrowa said he believed music could influence behavior and used an example of a DJ playing enough rowdy rap songs in a club setting to start a fist fight.

Several of the panelists chimed in on the topic including Bun B, Pyrexx, Hilary Pradia, and Tre9.

Before the panel I caught up with Bun and 'Rexx to ask what motivated them to be involved in this event and how much power they believed their style of music had on its listeners.

Afterward, I also caught up with a Willowridge student to get his thoughts on the assembly.

What's your take? Can music make you fight in a club or get closer to God in church?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tedashii's "Blacklight" album hits #8 on iTunes


For the second time this year (and for the third release in a row) Reach Records has an album charting in iTunes' overall Top 10 list on drop day. Those earlier efforts belong to Lecrae and today's chart climber also comes from a Houston-born Christian rapper - Tedashii.

Blacklight wasn't supposed to be released until next Tuesday, but somehow (and seemingly with both the label and Apple's blessing) it is available through iTunes today for a reasonable $7.99.

As of 1pm CST, it was in the #8 overall slot and holding down the #2 position on the Hip Hop/Rap chart just behind Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group's debut collective effort.

Blacklight's excellent "Riot" track is also being offered for FREE through iTunes' "Discover Download" promotion. Sample the song in the promo clip below.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

VID: "Controversial rapper" Common's White House poem mentions Biblical heroes and the return of Jesus Christ

Mainstream rapper Common was invited to and performed at last night's "Evening of Poetry" at the White House.

The overture led to much public hand-wringing by a handful of conservatives who proved they're quite unfamiliar with Lonnie Rashin Lynn Jr.'s work. Sarah Palin tweaked him on Twitter and Karl Rove, who worked in the White House for President George W. Bush, labeled Common a "thug."

In actuality, Common is generally known as a "conscience rapper" and would probably reside near the bottom of any thinking-man's list of MCs you wouldn't want to have at such an event.

But all of that is politics. What I found most interesting is that Common's spoken word piece referenced several Biblical heroes and even the return of Jesus Christ.

Here's a clip:

Sounds like content the Fox News hounds would support if you ask me...

2 Live Crew did gospel rap?

Photo from Amazon.com

I just launched into Ben Westhoff’s book Dirty South: Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop and ran across this HipHopDX.com article of "10 Things They Learned" from reading it.

One of the more surprising: That porno-rap pioneers 2 Live Crew actually started out making songs about God.

In the pre-Luke-era of 1984, one of the first singles from the (then-California) trio of Fresh Kid Ice, Amazing V. and Mr. Mixx was called "The Revelation" and deals with the topic of heaven and hell.

Sample lyrics:

There'll be many false prophets, devils in disguise
performing illusions before your very eyes

Some have eyes to see, and ears to hear
but they cannot utilize them because of fear

You have sell-out brothers who will sell their heart
for fame and fortune or to get a head start

But in the long run, they will see
that they are nothing but victims of prophecy

Time is running short, the world is in damnation
refuse to follow the laws of creation

We cannot all be Jesus Christ
but we still can make some sacrifice

Here’s the clip:

Props to my friends on the Holy Culture.net forums for the find.

Like I said, I just cracked the spine on my copy of Westhoff’s Dirty South but I’m sure there will be even more surprises to come. If any of them happen to involve the cross section of faith and hip hop you can be assured I’ll share them with you here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is Al Roker a "Rehab" fan?


While walking on the treadmill this morning I noticed a familiar symbol on the front of Al Roker's clothes.

America's favorite weatherman was reporting on the Mississippi River flooding in Memphis, TN for the "Today" show and appeared to be rocking the yellow logo that graces Lecrae's last two albums.

Is Roker a "Rehab" fan?

Or is he simply wearing waders from the Pro Line Boots company that seems to have... umm.... "inspired"... that design?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bun B speaks to youth mentorship group led by former 5th Ward Boy Andre "007" Barnes

Bun B with the TWEF Eagle Scholars - Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Last night on the north side of Houston in a chilly room filled with satellite jazz and hardwood floors, rapper Bernard “Bun B” Freeman spoke to a group of teens and pre-teens excited to go on an all-expenses paid, weekend trip to the nation’s capital.

The students are a part of the Eagle Scholars - a free youth mentorship program run by the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation. Bun B was invited to speak to the group by gangsta-rapper turned-inspirational-artist Andre “007” Barnes from Rap-A-Lot Records’ 5th Ward Boyz.

Barnes has been working with the group of 20 boys (ages 8-18) twice a week since February alongside motivational speaker Christopher L. Williams. This weekend Barnes, Williams, and other chaperones will accompany about half of that group to Washington, D.C. to tour the White House, Congress, and Howard University. They’ll also be meeting with noted comedian/civil rights activist Dick Gregory.

Both Bun B and 007 said they wished that, when they were growing up, they had the type of positive male role models and involvement the Eagle Scholars program provides to young men from low to moderate income neighborhoods.

The Eagle Scholars program is in its first year and seeks to build character and personal development by offering class sessions dedicated to etiquette, professionalism, computer training, and dream casting.

Previous guest lecturers have included corporate executives, civil servants, and local leaders. Bun B’s message followed along those lines and encouraged the kids to seize the opportunities granted to them, pursue higher education, and to give back to their communities once they achieved success.

“You don’t have to be on TV to be somebody,” he noted during the interview-style discussion hosted by TWEF youth leader Cecily Gomez.

Bun B is interviewed by TWEF mentor Cecily Gomez - Photo by Sketch the Journalist

Sixth grader Brealon Berguin said he was most looking forward to the Pentagon visit portion of the D.C. trip and took away from Bun B’s speech the importance representing where you’re from.

“But not in the bad way, in the good way,” Berguin said.

007 said he plans to continue his mentorship efforts and pursue ways to use the highs and lows of his experience (which includes performances alongside Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. as well as several years in prison) to benefit others in his city – a pattern he’s already developed as a Christian rapper through events like his Bless Fest and Hip Hop Hope Tuesdays.

TWEF's Christopher L. Williams (left) and 007 (right) present Bun B (center) with an Honorary Eagle Scholar award - Photo by Sketch the Journalist

After his speech, Bun B was presented with an award that made him an Honorary Eagle Scholar. He stuck around to take photos with the kids, sign autographs, and listen to their stories. Just a few hours later, Bun B appeared on stage at Warehouse Live freestyling with actor/rapper Donald Glover.

As one might gleam, Bun B is all about “community.”

For more information on the Eagle Scholars program and the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation visit www.twef.org.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Christian rap video destined for Tosh.0

The Non-Obama/Osama-Internet-Meme-Of-The-Moment centers around Christian rap and, no surprise, it's not good.

In the mid-90's this poor kid appeared on a low-budget Christian TV show and performed the song "Nu Thang" by his favorite group at the time - dc talk. Apparently someone found the tape, posted it online, and boom - Michael Clancy is the new Rebecca Black.

Clancy has responded to posts about this on sites like Jesus Needs New PR and seems to be taking it in stride.

His comment: "Hey, I’m not in therapy but I might be after this blows over. I was 10 years old when this was recorded and yes, those are imitation hammer pants and pumps. It’s crazy where this video has gone in 24 hours and I didn’t even post it!"

But undoubtedly, it'll end up on Comedy Central's Tosh.0 show even though the original version isn't much better. Let's just hope Clancy gets a "Web Redemption" segment and not an all out roast (which is possible given Daniel Tosh's own religious upbringing.)

The "Capital Cities Remix" version is slightly better. And yes, it has Auto-Tune.


BTW: This very well could have been me.