Happy Sunday! Let’s talk about God and hip-hop. There are some things I don’t understand about fans and I want your help and possible clarification.
God has been one of the most talked about topics in hip-hop since the 80’s. When Rakim wanted us to “Follow The Leader” and “Know The Ledge” he was incorporating teachings of the 5 Percent Nation throughout his projects. The hip-hop world loved it and Rakim still to this day is recognized as “The God Rakim”. Not my God Rakim, Not your God, Rakim. The God Rakim and No one seems to have a problem with that.
To take a quick peak at a time before my time, let’s talk Afrika Bambaataa, known as “The Amen Ra of Hip Hop Kulture” or as simply The Godfather. I actually met Bambaataa in I think 2002, in Madison Wisconsin, along with members of the Zulu Nation. They told us, “Hip-Hop is a religion”. At the time I just kind of froze, but it was many people around me, including K-Solo who didn’t question the man or his stance. Many regard Bambaataa as one of “The Gods of our Culture”. Not my God. Not your God. A God of the culture.
Let’s fast forward to the 90’s. A time where “God” was used heavily in rap and in greeting in the streets of NY. Me being a big fan of Nas, Wu-Tang, C-N-N, Mobb Deep and Boot Camp Clik, I was always hearing phrases like “Yo God” “Peace To The Gods” “You God Body, son” and at first I was thrown for a loop. I forgot who or what I saw or read, but the clarification made sense. In Harlem New York, Clearance Smith, of the Nation of Islam created the “5 Percent Nation”. 5 Percenters would also call it “The Nation of Gods and Earths”. It was taught and believed by many that “God is within all”. Meaning every man is a God and his body is a Temple, hence the phrase “God Body”.
I think I read “Woman is Earth”, but I don’t want to be disrespectful and misspeak or misquote any of the 5 Percent teachings.
Moving forward to present day. The “God Complex” is seemingly dangerous to many listeners, but it also seems to have a “popularity pass” along with it.
Kanye West makes a song called “I Am A God”. People hate it. They say Ye’ is creating blasphemous music and he needs to go back to making “College Dropout and Graduation music”.
Eminem makes a song called “Rap God”. People are blown away, say “You know what, he might be a Rap God” and hoodies get made for purchase.
Jay Z has been calling himself “Jay-Hova” or “Hova/Hov” in songs since the late 90’s and every once in a while, some Pastor or person who is obviously not a Jay fan will go out of their way to imply Shawn Carter worships the devil and his music is poisoning the minds of America’s youth.
Pusha T has been incorporating Drug talk with God references since The Clipse “Lord Willing” Album and no one seems to care. He also goes by King Push. It seems to flow as easy as water under a bridge.
Y’all got to beg my pardon on it, but this ish feel like God don’t it? – Pusha T
As a sincere fan of all 4 artist, I don’t hold one different over the other. As a person who has written lyrics and a person who listens to understand lyrics and will even research if I really don’t understand; All of the above grand scheme are harmless.
If Kanye West was to ever get behind a mic and tell me he was My God; I’d simply break his CD’s in half in his face and laugh hysterically. Same for Em, Jay and Push. If you subscribe to any religion or you simply just believe the times of the Romans and Egyptians happened, then you too should feel like a King, Queen, God or Earth. Hundreds of stories of the land before our time boasts of “Greek Gods” Cleopatra “Queen of The Nile” and “King Henry”. So why would I take it to heart when any rapper calls their-self King, Queen or God?
Now, if you want to get into a discussion about how emcees need to carry themselves in a more Godly or Royal fashion, I’m with that and I agree. One reason why Rakim is called “The God” is because he had real food in his bars about religion and it was clear and it was respected. Even a lot of 90’s emcees gave you “knowledge of self” in their God references. Today, rappers are too comfortable with making “blanket statements” or just presenting an idea with a lot of bravado and letting an audience run with it. That’s not good.
Sidenote: To reiterate. I do not believe “Jesus Walks” is a great song. Breakdown the bars and tell me the food in that song. Not the beat. Not the use of the choir. Breakdown the bars.
One Question: Grand scheme; do you think the bigger issue is specifically people of color calling themselves Kings, Queens and Gods? I don’t hold that to just white people. Even within our own cultures and communities, it’s looked down upon if you think too highly of yourself. Hit me with your thoughts on that.
I call my brother sun cause he shine like one – Method Man