Jesus is My N*gga?

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I recently questioned the words used in Sho Baraka’s song “Jim Crow aka N*gga Island”. Imagine my surprise when I find out this morning that Sho is not the first Christian to use n*gga in a hip-hop song. (I’m using “hip-hop” loosely. Read on.)

While tuning in to Power Talk, my favorite black talk radio show, the host and callers are discussing a recent YouTube video (embedded below) called “Rappin’ for Jesus” aka “Jesus is My N*gga”.

What?! I listened closer. I even called in.

The host asked for input about the song wondering if the song would be acceptable if done by a black pastor. The first caller I heard was a black man sharing his perspective that this song was ridiculous. He thought it was a terrible way for Christians to reach youth whether black or white.

This caller also had an interesting perspective on white Evangelicals. He explained that white Evangelicals do well with Jesus’ first greatest command about loving God noting that the theology in the song was good. But white Evangelicals do a poor job fulfilling the second greatest command – loving people. He further explained that the song shows a lack of respect for black youth and demeans the gospel by its presentation. Essentially, he said black youth just need the gospel shared through love.

The song is several years old and the church it was made in closed in 2004. And there are no mad skillz on display in the video or the song. This song would probably be received by youth more like Biz Markie’s comical “Just A Friend” than as a serious explanation about Jesus.

I’m sure the pastor and his wife had good motives. They probably wanted to do anything they could to relate to urban youth and reach them with the gospel. However, sometimes ideas like this might be best left in draft form.

Some questions come to mind as to why the evangelistic methodology of this particular song stands out more than some of the other tactics used today. Christian hip-hop has been objected to with the claim that “the medium is the message.” Whether or not that’s true about the medium, the message of the song in question, if it can be defined at hip-hop, is certainly overtaken by the medium.

So, I wonder….

Is song an example of hyper-contextualization? Does it matter that the pastor is white? If the song was done with a better beat and flow would it be more accepted? Is this approach better, worse or in the same league as the “Jesus is my homeboy” phrase?

What are your thoughts?

For what it’s worth…

Mark

Tags: , , , , , ; Categories: Christianity,Culture,Evangelism,theology
The above article was posted on February 14, 2013 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jennyelaine February 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

http://aroundeverycornerat.blogspot.com/2013/02/valentines-day-challenge.html Blessings Mark!!
Nope…not a good idea at all. We are not to do anything that would either cause a Christian to stumble, or put an obstacle in the way of a nonbeliever to come to Christ. 1 Cor. 9-11 and Romans 13-15

2 Chris Roberts February 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

That… that’s horrific on oh so many levels.

3 Dale Pugh February 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Uhhhh………That is just horrible, Mark. These folks are obviously worse than out of touch. They’re clueless. How many people attempt to be relevant and just end up being ridiculous? With many other misguided attempts to communicate the Gospel, at least one could say the intent was commendable. I don’t think I can say that here.
I find it offensive as well. It doesn’t matter what the person’s race is, the use of “n” is simply inexcusable. Unfortunately, people have made such words and their historical context meaningless by continued use and abuse.

4 mariep February 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm

When I saw this in my Google Reader, it was painful just reading the blog title!

5 mariep February 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The blog post title, that is- Here I Blog is an awesome name ;-)

6 Mark February 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Yep, pretty horrible, but almost funny at various points.

7 Lewis Culliver March 1, 2013 at 5:45 pm

nah dude…if Lecrae rapped it, it still wouldn’t be ok. that’s just trying too hard to be like secular artists. the meaning and connotation of the word hasn’t changed, no matter how hard people try. it’s the same derogatory word it was back in the 50′s and 60′s, as it was back in slavery.

8 MikeOrowitz December 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Come on.  This is obviously a parody video.   The word “swag” wasn’t used like that back in 2004.   That’s a recent use circa 2010.   This is a fake, and you fell for it.

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