Every time I play Chance the Rapper for my girls, I get to have a reminder of some theological truths.
Every once in a while, I come upon an obsession. More often than not, that obsession is a music artist or spoken word artist. For years, my favorite band has been the Counting Crows. While they may remain my all-time favorite, it is possible they are being replaced as my favorite artists. They are being replaced by Beautiful Eulogy. Listen, I realize hip-hop as a genre is not for everyone. There is one radio station here in Sacramento whose entire tagline is "All of todays hits without the rap". (There IS a difference between "rap" and "hip-hop" but that is for another post). Even if you do not especially enjoy hip-hop, you still ought to give Beautiful Eulogy a shot for a few diffferent reasons.
1. Theologically Rich (not watered down truth)
"The beautiful lyrical theology is the driving force of the group's music. They have taken the approach of presenting 'meaty' theological truths and addressing biblical concepts, imploring listeners to join them on the journey of growing in understanding and in love with the one true God." - Christianity Today
2. Talent Rich (not "crappy Christian" art)
An enormous pet peeve is watching Christians create art that is only a crappy carbon copy of the art being produced in the culture outside the faith. As those created in the image of the ultimate creator, those with a relationship with Him ought to be creating great art. Beautiful Eulogy would kill it in the market if they were not speaking such solid theological truth. They are that great at what they do.
3. You don't have to be rich (its free)
All the artists on the Humble Beast label give their albums for free on their website. You can get both of Beautiful Eulogy's albums for free at the website, and while you're there, check into all the other artists. I could affix these same praises to every other artist at Humble Beast.
Below are two great Beautiful Eulogy videos for you to check out:
Release Me From This Snare (most recently released video) [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YggGjJfUONA&w=640&h=360]
Beautiful Eulogy [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz09EF4obYQ&w=640&h=360]
Musical obsessions come my way frequently. There is always an artist or band I just cannot get enough of. Right now, that band is Beautiful Eulogy. This is hip-hop group on the Humble Beast label. I have been really enjoying the mission, purpose, and product of everything coming out of Humble Beast. I have highlighted Propaganda already, but right now I cannot stop listening to Beautiful Eulogy. These guys, like all other HB artists, are not just good 'Christian hip hop". There is theology in here that we should all take in. This video is one of my favorite tracks on the album, but you should certainly got humblebeast.com and get the album free.
While Mumford & Sons release their highly anticipated album next Tuesday, there is one other record I am itching to get my hands on. Propaganda is one of my favorite poets and artists right now. He writes and speaks with boldness for the gospel that is not the typical Christian art which generally feels like watered down second-hands of mainstream art. Propaganda blows up everything he touches, and I cannot wait for this next record.
I love the written and spoken word. My ear is always out to hear new poets, and I saw this guy kill it a few weeks ago at Catalyst West. I have been listening like crazy ever since then. Make sure to check him out! [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRNrzRcXsiQ&w=480&h=390]
"Too often, hip hop still lacks deep vision and analysis. It's morally underdeveloped and spiritually immature." - Cornel West
Most people would be surprised to know how much I enjoy hip hop. At least, my guess is most would be surprised. I really love hip hop, but I am incredibly picky as to what hip hop I will endure.
Dr. West's thoughts above get to the heart of my picky-ness as it relates to the hip hop I enjoy. There are a few criteria an artist has to meet for me to enjoy them.
- Is it well-written? I care too much about the beauty and art of written and spoken word to waste time with "artists" who pay no mind or effort to the craft.
- Is it thoughtful? I am no longer (and never was) interested in how much more sex, money, or arrogance you have than me. But if you are writing for a purpose outside and beyond yourself, I am all ears.
- Is it redemptive or impactful? Tricia Rose said, "Hip hop has become a primary means by which we talk about race in the United States." I not only agree but would say that, as any artistic expression, hip hop has the capacity to be dramatically redemptive and impacting in endless issues.
One artist in the last few years has surfaced for me as one fulfills all of these criteria as well as many others. Shad is out of Canada and still has a swagger you do not expect from mounty country. He is uber-creative, thoughtful, and well-thought. It is evident in his work. Get all three albums and thank me later.