Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Thinking about the Grammys

After all the hubbub the Christian Right and Christians in general made concerning the lack of nominations for The Passion and general lack of regard for Jesus and Jesus followers in the media and amongst Hollywood, all entertainment industries, I was surprised that very few of the Christian media outlets (and noone from the Christian Right) made any comments about the performance of Kanye West on Sunday night. Nobody talked about his song (Jesus Walks) or his wins (3) or even his nominations (10).

So, when they ignore us, we give 'em hell. But, when they praise a song of faith and devotion, we ignore it (to paraphrase my mom, with a slight alteration- "if we cannot say something negative, we should say nothing at all"). Actually, if we want them to pay attention to our art, let us do what Kanye did. Let's make our art better than anything else out there. Even Kevin Bacon could not deny the power of the performance- and lyrics- saying, "I think I just got saved" upon hearing Kanye with the Blind Boys and Mavis Staples.

Read an interesting take on Kanye's spirituality from a fan.

I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way yall need Jesus
So here go my single dog radio needs this
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played Huh?
Well let this take away from my spins
Which will probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sins
And bring the day that I'm dreaming about
Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out
Jesus Walks click here for the entire lyrics of the song

Over the course of the past year, this song (and his album) has done more to enhance my Spiritual Walk than anything by any artist on a Christian label (though followed closely by SP's latest CD). The closest thing to Kanye was Mindy Smith's "Come to Jesus" another "secular" song I first heard on Boston's The River (not on a "Christian" radio station, mind you), followed by a number of songs off U2's latest opus.

The other spiritual highlight musically (though much less) was Heaven by Los Lonely Boys (which was not good enough for Christians to hear, so it was redone- note for note- by a "Christian' Band called Salvador- I kid you not- I heard it on a "Christian" station along with the other typical fluff-I cannot make up this stuff).

Back to Kanye- Just think about it. This young man, with an incredible tack record as a producer, fights conventional wisdom tooth and nail, making a name for himself, releasing 2 huge hits before nailing "Jesus Walks" on the door of MTV and urban radio, daring them to play the best song on his CD (he knows at this pint they have no choice). Taking on the persona of a drug dealer with a moment of clarity remembering of his momma's calls to faith (I always think Jules from Pulp Fiction), he declares that Jesus walks with everyone who needs him and calls to him, not because of their rightness before God, but because of his love for each person who is and/ or feels far away from God. Because of Kanye's vulnerability and guts, everybody in the clubs, watching TV and listening to the radio is screaming "Jesus Walks," but not much of the church which has ignored this musician and his message for the world (and not the church- where we really want it).

*Props to Relevant magazine for noticing Kanye in April.

*Regarding The Passion, click below to read about the stink people made when The Passion was not nominated for much (it got what is deserved for Cinematography and Makeup- got lucky with score and shafted on editing- according to me). CT's take, which quotes some of the angry Christians/ what some guy from the Traditional Values Coalition says- not a film critic for sure/ At least Ted Baehr, the Christian film critic actually had something intelligent to say , understanding the lack of an Aramaic speaking country to submit the Passion as its major impediment to an Oscar.

7 comments:

james said...

It could just be me, but my guess is that no one in the Christian community cared much to even listen to Kanye's lyrics, because he is not "alternative" or white. Others can rip at me as they will, but Kanye's style is the least admirable style in Christian music, and therefore largely ignored in the mainstream.

I could be somewhat off base, as I am not an expert in music, but that is just my uninformed 2 cents.

I enjoyed Kanye's performance, but honestly didn't care much for his acceptance speech.

Rick said...

Great post. My wife and I have 2 copies of Kanye's disc. One for her car, one for mine. I think there may be a difference in writing "CHristian" songs and writing from one's soul. I appreciated your comments about how you have worshipped God through Kanye. I sat outside my church on Sunday moring listening to the next track on the disc with tears in my eyes. Oh, I first heard "Come to Jesus" on KFOG San Francisco's rock station. I purchased later that evening.

Peace,
Rick

Rick said...

Great post. My wife and I have 2 copies of Kanye's disc. One for her car, one for mine. I think there may be a difference in writing "CHristian" songs and writing from one's soul. I appreciated your comments about how you have worshipped God through Kanye. I sat outside my church on Sunday moring listening to the next track on the disc with tears in my eyes. Oh, I first heard "Come to Jesus" on KFOG San Francisco's rock station. I purchased later that evening.

Peace,
Rick

Anonymous said...

Just curious about the parental advisory sticker I see on the front of his CD. Is that the same CD? Is the "parental advisory" part of the CD that offensive? (and yes, I believe art can be good and have "objectionable" material in it). I guess it's kind of hard for me to purchase a CD with a sticker like that. Hope I'm not being too narrow here. Michael of TN

Rick said...

Michael,

Actually there is a clean version you can buy (probably at walmart or online) which gives the positive content.

There are some explicit things on it, kinda like Mel Gibson's other movies and the violence in Passion (to continue with my comparison).

it is a mix of faith and doubt, crassness and transcendence.

lilly said...

i loved the grammys this year! for the first time in a long time, music that i know and like got honored for the world to see! and lots of god songs/singers were there...U2, los lonely boys, as well as kanye! great post to remind us to be the people of god in the real world...we need to be the best at whatever we do!...music, art, drama, accounting, teaching, etc and let our "art" speak for itself....because it will speak loudly! thanks rick! looking forward to seeing you in nashvegas! lil

Paul said...

Come, come, Rick. Don't you know that the doors to CT would be beaten down and Baptist Press would have to close theirs if they endorsed a song that uses the "s" word twice and the "h" word twice again?

I mean, I'm a pastor and I just played the song on my computer. Now I'm going to have to find money in the budget for a new PC because I have thoroughly defiled this one. I can feel the keyboard getting sticky already.