I am crediting Jonathan McKee for excerpts from his recent blog:
As millions of Americans gathered around their flatscreens last Feb. 12 for one of the most anticipated award shows of the year, they had no idea what was about to take place. One moment Gaga was singing with Metallica. The next moment one of the countless young ladies with a distractingly plunging neckline introduced Chance the Rapper… and a hush fell over the crowd as an angelic voice began singing the words, “How Great is Our God.” It’s not something anyone expected to see at the Grammys 2017—a rapper leading worship.
If you missed the moment, then you not only missed Chance the Rapper making history winning three for his ‘streaming-only’ album, but you also missed him praising God, joined by Kirk Franklin and a full Gospel choir. Unquestionably a bold move for a mainstream rapper.
Chance fans weren’t surprised at all. This is who Chance is. But Christians tasting Chance for the first time were confused. “Is this another legit Christian rapper like Lecrae? Or is this yet another rapper who is going to thank God when he wins an award for an album titled something like, Slap the Ho?”
The confusion is understandable. On one hand Chance has numerous songs with profoundly Christian lyrics, and he talks openly about his faith journey as a black rapper. Some even say he “represents Millenial Christianity.” But on the other hand, Chance doesn’t hesitate to drop F-bombs, or rap about drinking and smoking weed. He even collaborates with extremely profane rappers like Lil Wayne and 2Chainz.
Christians are perplexed how to respond, especially when their kids ask them, “Is Chance the Rapper really a Christian?”
How are parents supposed to answer a question like that?
The Question-Answer Maybe we should remember how Jesus commonly answered questions like this—with another question.
Maybe the key would be to move from a position of judging someone else to examining our own faith. But let’s not ignore the question behind the question…
The Question Behind the Question When our kid asks us, “Is Chance a Christian?” they might just be asking, “Can Christians curse and smoke weed?” Or they might be honestly asking, “Do I have permission to listen to Chance’s music?”
Sometimes we cripple our kids from making these decisions on their own by making these decisions for them. We don’t teach them to look for the answers; we just provide the lists of “good” and “bad” influences. We almost create checkboxes. Good movies… bad movies. Good singers… bad singers.
This kind of morality misguides our kids in two ways: They don’t think Biblically about entertainment media. They just refer to the checkboxes. “Mom, is Beyonce bad or good? Where’s the list?”
What are they going to decide when they are on their own? Are they going to call you up and ask you permission to watch HBO’s Girls? (Probably not.)
Some would argue this crass or abrasive talk is just typical hip-hop culture. And is it wrong to brag about your own accomplishments, if you keep them in the perspective of being from God?
Chance would probably be the first to admit that some of his songs are about drinking to get drunk (unless we’re talking about Captain America here). Yes, we should sympathize with someone who is drinking or smoking weed to escape his pain. But then we should maybe ask the famous Dr. Phil question: “How’s that working for ya?”
Chance probably knows this. The question we all need to ask is, does listening to All Night make us reflect on the empty moments of our life, or does it make us want to do what so many songs instruct us to do, let go, lose control and drink it up?
The more you dive into Chance’s music, the more you’ll see he talks about real issues, but you won’t always agree with his word choice, and you won’t always agree with his conclusions.
Should I listen to Chance the Rapper? Most Christians will probably disagree with Chance’s word choice more than they disagree with his message. But even his message is confusing at times.
I honestly don’t think there’s one right answer to, “Should I listen to Chance the Rapper?” Maybe someone who grew up in hardship might be encouraged by Chance’s words and his frequent turning-to-God for answers. Maybe Chance’s music is a huge step in the right direction compared to what they used to listen to.
When our kids are young, we’ll help them make these decisions. As they get older, they need practice making these decisions more and more on their own.
Keep that in mind when you look at Chance the Rapper. How would Jesus respond to Chance the Rapper? Or more relevantly… how would Jesus respond to you? – end of excerpt.
A few years ago, we went to the movies to see “End of the Spear.” It is a true story about five missionaries who were brutally murdered in the Ecuadorian jungle by members of the Waodani tribe in 1956. The movie was amazingly well done and the soundtrack was equally well done, but as the credits rolled there was a rap song that was absolutely amazing. It gave me a whole new perspective of rap, it was the perfect way to end such an emotional film.
There are new artists breaking onto the scene every day, representing many different forms of music, including rap. I guess at the end of the day, whatever style it takes to get the message though to your audience is secondary, styles come and go. Keeping the main thing the main thing – a message that counts.