Spirituality In Hip Hop Essay Research Paper

Spirituality In Hip Hop Essay, Research Paper Spirituality in Hip-Hop Many people view hip-hop from only a commercial standpoint. This would force them to believe that since mainstream rap is riddled with references to violence, sex, and

Spirituality In Hip Hop Essay, Research Paper

Spirituality in Hip-Hop

Many people view hip-hop from only a commercial standpoint. This would force

them to believe that since mainstream rap is riddled with references to violence, sex, and

money, that there is a lack of reverence or acknowledgement for God. This problem is

remedied, however, if one looks deeper into the sources of hip-hop. Mainstream music is

the sub-genre of rap in which the consumers most readily purchase. For rap, the ideas that

sell the easiest are these sex and money-filled songs which have no lyrical value and are

really only enjoyed because of the good production and beats behind the song. I am an

avid lover of hip-hop, and my connection with this type of music extends into the

underground, where I have gained a vast knowledge about the rest of the world and ideas,

most of which would have been hidden to me if I had not encountered this type of music.

Underground hip-hop is more likely to contain a deeper message because the artist, on

average, puts more effort upon lyrical content than commercial rappers. This is because

they are more concerned with keeping their lyrics real and respect their music as more of

an artform, contrasted with the mainstream artists focus on making money. Two songs I

chose which somehow relate to my own theology are Divine Disappointment by Alias, a

member of the independent group Anticon, and Next Testament by Sage Francis, a

Rhode Island native, and also the vocalist in the live band, Art Official Intelligence.

Before I delve into these songs, I feel it is necessary to give a brief profile of these

two artists. Alias, as I already mentioned, is a member of Anticon. This is an unique

group, consisting of more than ten members, many of which have solo and other group

projects on the side. Many of the members of this group are poets, and their works

oftentimes reflect this side of them. By this I mean that many of the songs produced by

artists in Anticon cannot be deciphered very easily. They require a great deal of thought

and reflection to be able to understand the message the work was trying to display. Sole,

the lead member of Anticon, along with Sage Francis, are distinguished of poetry slam

contests nationwide. In fact, Sage just won the Providence Poetry Slam held on March

1st and will compete in the nationals in Seattle. The point I am trying to make is that their

involvement with poetry allows for a deeper form of hip-hop to be expressed through their

music. This is exactly what I enjoy listening to and why I appreciate the artwork of

underground artists immensely.

The song Divine Disappointment by Alias is a song that is depressing and

pessimistic, but I feel as though it still offers a great deal of wisdom to the audience. In

this song, Alias speaks from the viewpoint of God. Actually, it is his viewpoint of what he

believes God to be thinking. Even though I do not agree with much of the views of Alias

in this song, I think it is a great work, and I have learned more about others views about

God, and even furthered my own spirituality, by listening to this song. I see a lot of anger

in the song, and I have reason to believe, based on biographies I have read on the internet,

that Alias had a tough childhood. Thus, I believe many of his dreams of what God

really was became shattered when something bad happened and he could not find a

reasonable explanation as for why these events occurred. Knowing this background

information, I can sympathize and understand how Alias feels and how he wrote and sung

what he did, even though I do not necessarily agree with some of the things he says.

Some things in the song Divine Disappointment I can agree with, however. For

example, in the first stanza, Alias says, My frustration aimed at what I created has me

feeling discombobulated. Although this puts a human tendency on God by expressing a

human emotion (frustration), I can visualize God shaking His head in disbelief of what

his children are doing. The world today is filled with hate and violence, and somehow I

can see God wondering what exactly went wrong, even though I know fully well that

what went wrong was that we are responsible for bringing sin into our own lives. It was

not anything that He did which caused our present condition, but rather we are to blame.

It is kind of hard for me to explain because although I know one way is the correct way to

see this problem, I also find myself viewing it from the perspective exemplified in Alias

work.

Also in the first verse, I agree with the couplet, They seem to think that I’m

forgiving of all/which means they have a scapegoat, if they happen to drop the ball. I can

even relate to this personally. I know sometimes we tend to play things off by believing

our sins will be forgiven anyway, so we might as well commit the sin. I understand that

although God is forgiving of everyone, we should still strive to be free of sin, but I do see

people taking advantage of God s kindness.

The second verse of this song is terribly pessimistic. It basically says that God

cannot control everything. Hence, He is saying that He is not all that we made Him out to

be. In the end he erupts and says that he regrets making Man, but there is nothing He can

do about it, because He is not powerful enough to turn back the hands of time. In this

verse, Alias is making God seem more of a human-like being rather than an omnipotent,

universal one. Throughout the song, Alias makes many cynical statements, such as, they

[humans] do not matter in my eyes, project gone terribly wrong, and, you say that you

know me/but you really don t. All of these statements give the audience the feeling that

the author views God as something which is not able to control destiny, and does not have

the power to help. I think many people today have this view. They view God as someone

who created the world and then left it alone. That is, He does not intervene in any Earthly

circumstances. Although I do not agree with this type of theology, I feel as though it has

helped to better my own understanding of God because it has strengthened my own

beliefs, even after I have seen compelling arguments of the other faction.

In all, I believe that the song Divine Disappointment by Alias is a wonderful

song. Although I do feel sorry for the author because I believe he is confused in many

areas, I am glad that he does not deny God s existence, and hope that he will one day be

able to see through the anger with which he is filled. Perhaps I may be totally missing the

boat upon this song, and maybe Alias does not believe this at all but is just presenting the

audience with a controversial topic, but I will never know what he was truly thinking

when he wrote this song. All I can do is be thankful that I gained what I did from hearing

this great artistic piece.

One more song I would like to address is that of, Next Testament by Sage

Francis. Sage is one of the most brilliant writers/emcees/performers I have ever been in

company with. He is able to write on such a wide array of topics and stay focused

throughout the whole work. The song Next Testament is a proclamation of what Sage

has encountered on his struggle for spirituality in his life. Basically, the song is a story

about him meeting a man who tries to impose beliefs on him by handing him a Bible.

After a long struggle and argument, Sage comes to the realization that there is a God.

However, the story is not as simple as that. Sage still has some doubts about God, and

nothing will ever be for sure.

I think the best quote from this song is when Sage says, I said, “WHAT!”

Snatched the book in hopes of finding a myth… This shows that the author was

persistent in wanting to find something wrong with doctrine. I used to find myself doing

this a few years ago. I would argue every little matter just trying to prove the Bible

wrong. While doing this, I missed the big picture. I was too focused on the literal

translations that I missed the hidden messages which were lying belief the stories. I feel as

though Sage Francis was doing the same thing, which is kind of why I feel this song, well

at least a part of it, related to me personally. I think another great line is when the man

with the Bible says that Jesus is not dead and Sage responds with, “He faked his death?”

Then the song goes on to say, I watched my man take a breath as if he had no more

patience left. This shows that Sage had missed the understanding of what the man with

the Bible was trying to convey. Although the physical body of Jesus had died, his eternal

nature was ever-present around us, and therefore he was not truly dead. But Sage, as I

used to be, looked at this only in the realistic point of view, and did not understand the

reality of a soul.

Again with Next Testament, I do not agree totally with what he is saying. I do

believe that the Bible is instrumental in helping us find out own spirituality within, whereas

Sage disagrees. At the end of the song, Sage says, I found him y’all look within yourself

and wipe them books off your shelf. I took this to mean that he felt as though the Bible

did not do anything for him and that he found God on his own–he did not need anyone s

help. I was not totally sure if this was his intention because I know, through his other

work, that nothing he says can be taken for granted as having it s literal meaning.

Therefore, I asked him online if I was right in my assumption. He responded by saying,

yeah. I didn’t need other people’s doctrines in order for me to get in touch with a higher

power…I found God from within. I am not exactly sure what to make of this statement.

I want to commend him on finding God without the help of the Church or other

organizations, because to me that seems nearly impossible. But I also want to pray for

him in hopes that he will realize that doctrines are essential to building a healthier

relationship with God.

Overall, I think Next Testament is another great song by a truly inspiring artist.

I can understand why Sage Francis thinks that he does not need someone or some

organization to tell him what to believe because I once had the same viewpoint. But at the

same time, I hope that he will continue even further on in this process of developing his

own spirituality which involves taking the Church into his life.

I think it is pretty obvious why I like underground hip hop music much more than

mainstream. I am able to get more out of underground songs than I am able to listening to

radio stations like HOT 106. These two songs are both great examples of such music.

They express my own theology to a certain extent, and have helped me to understand

what other people s views about God and life in general is like.

“Divine Disappointment” Alias

“paradise of fools” >

My frustration aimed at what I created has me feeling discombobulated.

I hated the boredom and so I reinstated entertainment

for my well-being now it seems I made the wrong decision.

My project had appeared easy but had no direction in precision.

Beginner’s luck? Only up to recent times do I feel stuck.

I’m the only one to blame for things that ran amuck.

I built up, a universe that is now building me you see.

Technological advancement which is the creator now and all things to be

decided when they have not even once touched my hands.

My quote unquote followers still constantly fill the stands

on the so-called Sabbath day. For years it’s been this way

but these people can’t figure out whether it’s the first or last day to pray.

They seem to think that I’m forgiving of all

which means they have a scapegoat,

if they happen to drop the ball.

I’ve been coined various names none of which to me are flattering.

They look to me for a guidance but to me they do not matter. In my

eyes there’s nothing I can do to help this situation

when they have internal conflicts with their whole congregation.

They gather every week and speak of me in song–

these beings I created in this project gone terribly wrong.

You all claim that you know me but you really don’t

ever forgiving and you say of me in reality I really won’t.

From the day I gave you life to your last anointment

you have all been nothing but divine disappointment.

You all claim that you know me but you really don’t

ever forgiving and you say of me in reality I really won’t.

From the day I gave you life to your last anointment

you have all been nothing but divine disappointment.

So I’m now stuck to figure out what to actually do at this point in time.

These creatures think that there’s an afterlife

but they spend their whole life benign.

They killed another creature years ago that claimed to be my son

so now they mold their lives after him and claim that He’s the One.

The One that will save them, lead them to a new breath.

I hate to break it to them: “I have nothing for you after death.”

So carry on if you wish unknowing thinking breath is wind blowing

magnifying light bulb is the sun and tears of rivers flowing.

Think that every bad thing that happens to you is at my will

like bankruptcy, adultery, and the reason why others kill.

Go on to be mislead as you have your entire life

think that all somehow I’ll reward you for all your pain and strife.

“I can’t control destiny” where’d you come up with that notion?

“There’s no cure for AIDS”

so don’t even bother with that potion.

I didn’t create the disease to punish others

I didn’t even make it

so if you have that frame of mind you go ahead and break it.

I’m sick and tired of feeling responsibility for all of you ungratefuls–

unwilling to share with the starving while you enjoy all of your platefuls.

Even if I had the power to help you I wouldn’t even bother

so stop thinking that I love you and stop calling me your father.

I didn’t plan on you evolving into this mess with which I deal

asking for my forgiveness when you lie, cheat, and steal.

What the hell do you want me to do? Try and save yourself.

I cant help your marriage, your children or status of health.

My problem’s far away, any of your so-called devastations

like this oncoming war between the so-called United Nations.

I regret making all of you–you make my blood pressure climb.

I wish I didn’t make you but even I can’t turn back the hands of time.

You all claim that you know me but you really don’t

ever forgiving and you say of me in reality I really won’t.

From the day I gave you life to your last anointment

you have all been nothing but divine disappointment.

You all claim that you know me but you really don’t

ever forgiving and you say of me in reality I really won’t.

From the day I gave you life to your last anointment

you have all been nothing but divine disappointment.

“paradise of fools” >

Next Testament by Sage Francis

“Find God!” said the man, who lost everything he owned, looking stoned

I groaned back, “Find a job here’s an application.” Retaliation:

“Here’s a pamphlet.”

I said, “F… this damn shit.”

My man flipped

and threw his hand into his pocket.

Pulled out a bible

with a design that looked tribal

The Next Testament was its title

“Look it over.”

“A book? Nosuh what the hell does this got to offer?”

A small mirror on the bottom labeled “author”

that s too impersonal

Irreversible

actions leave our mind scarred

looking for the answers. “Find God!”

he said again.

But I m a veteran

knowing that you are no better than

or worse than.

Compare my last enemy to my first friend.

This bum gave me his shirt s pen

“What the heck?

You re straight up buggin, thinking that I m gonna write you out a check.”

He said, “What?” I said, “WHAT!” Snatched the book in hopes of finding

a myth. Lifted up the front cover broke the binding.

“I bring peace, love happiness and unity!”

Usually I blow it off, but I said, “That ain t what you do to me. What you do to me

is bring pain, hate, ignorance, and false alternatives to my community.”

He sat back and thought it over.

With a look that s sort of sober

He stared me in the eye and said I don t lie

(Figure it out. Me or him? Him or me?)

Now we begin

to quarrel

over what s historical

but that s immoral

questioning the oracle s origin.

We re born through sin.

“You need to save yourself,” he said.

“But Jesus died for our sins.” He said, “He ain t dead.”

“He faked his death?”

I watched my man take a breath

as if he had no more patience left.

Then he embraced his chest.

Looked as if the Holy Spirit was about to manifest

itself.

Mental health

is what he lacked. I should have known this.

Without God, when we die every Earthling is homeless.

I couldn t look. Tried to give him back his book.

As he shook. But it was stuck to my hand

What the f God damn

Embellished in sin and with a devilish grin

This denizen could tell that I was selfish within

He started speaking in tongues that I m unfamiliar with.

I held the pen like a knife and threatened, “I kill your myth!”

Civilians drift

into a state of violent anger.

I can tell when I m in danger

so I stopped to take a breather.

“Listen, I m a non-believer

with no faith, and I don t want none either

it s time for me to leave ya

take your book,

I ain t no crook.”

He said, “It s yours like the world read it good there s directions.”

I flipped through the pages, but they were blank no deceptions.

He mentioned, “Look deeper. You ll see it says more

than you could share. I asked, “Where?” He replies, “That s what

the pen s for.”

I found him y’all look within yourself

and wipe them books off your shelf

Yes I found him y’all, y’all look within yourself

and wipe them books off your shelf, off your shelf

Yes I found him y’all, y’all, y’all look within yourself

and wipe them goddam books off the shelf

and wipe them goddam books off the shelf

and wipe them goddam books off the shelf

>

When someone goes into that chapel and they fall on their knees grieving and praying too…..Go ahead

and read your bible…..You go in your church….With any luck u might win the annual raffle but if your

looking for God……You’re asking if I have a God complex?….Lemme tell u something, I am God.

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