Hip Hop’s Delusional God-Talk

I nearly hemorrhaged when Lil’ Wayne approached the microphone at the 2008 BET Awards saying, “I am nothing without God, baby! I just want to say thank God, thank my family and thank Universal.” What god is he thanking? Does he worship some ancient god named “Misogyny?” There is a serious disconnect in the hip hop community that allows rappers to evoke the name of God in thanks while producing music that celebrates evil.

The profound disconnect may be explained, in part, by a new study released by Radio One and Yankelovich, a Chapel Hill-based research firm. The new study, the most comprehensive in decades including blacks ranging in age from 13-74, reveals that while 83 percent of blacks call themselves Christians, only 41 percent attend church at least once a week. Even worse, among black men, 47 percent say they are not as religious as their parents (36 percent of black women confess the same).

For black teens, 86 percent say that they trust God to take care of things and 46 percent believe that they are not as religious as their parents. Most black teens see God as a stop-gap measure only. This is why Lil’ Wayne receives applause, even though he raps about the sadistic treatment of women, at an audience full of deistic blacks.

Deism is a movement forged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in England proffering the idea that God created the world but has no interest in intervening in the world’s present functioning, including ethical matters. Hip Hop’s deism allows Lil’ Wayne to produce disgusting songs like “Lollipop,” receive the “Viewers Choice” award, and link his success to God.

Perhaps it would have been more accurate for Lil’ Wayne to thank the convergence of all of the forces of evil that allow lyrics like “Shawty wanna lic-lic-lic-lick me/Like a lollipop” to be praised by viewers. Universal’s sponsorship of Lil’ Wayne’s music is but one indication of the fact that hip hop has become big business. “Lollipop” recently hit number one on the “Billboard Hot 100 Top 10″ list and the album, “Tha Carter III” now debuts at number one among Billboard’s “Top 40 Albums.”

It is pure evil that celebrates music that maligns the dignity of women and men. In the song, “Don’t Get It,” Lil’ Wayne, while harshly criticizing the Rev. Al Sharpton, laments being misunderstood. Lil’ Wayne is indeed hard to understand: he’s a confused deist, at best, with no desire to integrate, in his music, gratitude to God with the demands of human dignity, justice, and love.

Lil’ Wayne’s thanking God is equivalent to a strip club patron thanking God for providing women to objectify and dehumanize, or a prostitute thanking God that she has the ability to destroy her dignity to pay bills. There are some “successes” that are rightly attributed to social moral decay and the unchecked spread of evil, and cannot be purified by a passing mention of “God.” With its culture-rotting messages, much of hip hop is exemplary of the kind of enterprise that does no credit to the market that gave it birth.

We should not be too surprised by the juxtaposition of God talk with dehumanzing rap lyrics when nearly half of all black men are not as religious as their partly religious parents and most blacks no longer attend church — the black community’s historic source of moral formation.

The Internet lit up in late June when rapper Ice-T attacked Soulja Boy saying that he “single-handedly killed hip hop” with his “garbage” song “Superman.” One might add that the empty God talk in hip-hop today is single-handedly perverting the relationship between God and virtue for an audience of blacks who are increasingly unchurched and uncommitted to a life in pursuit of the good.

Ice-T makes a distinction between “good hip hop” and “whack hip hop” in his warranted attack of Soulja Boy’s song, but a better distinction would separate virtue-building hip hop from virtue-destroying hip hop. The genre’s deistic language exposes just how confused and disconnected the hip hop generation is from the black church platform on which it stands, enjoying its freedom to dishonor the black experience in America.

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  • http://www.anthonyschefter.com prairiehawk

    The problem is that sin has so perverted our minds that we see evil and call it good. This is a process that has been going on for decades now. Do you remember M*A*S*H, the most popular tv show of the 70′s? Well, Hawkeye was always dallying with the nurses in the supply closet, but the way it was presented was, we all knew he was being naughty and shouldn’t be doing that sort of thing. M*A*S*H was a fundamentally moral show.

    Then the 80′s came along. Remember Cheers? All of a sudden, Sam Malone was womanizing and everyone on the show was cheering him on. The evils of fornication and the objectification of women were portrayed as goods. Cheers was a fundamentally immoral show, as is most of what’s on tv today.

    This is the sort of thing that’s been happening in the popular culture. Behaviors that were once known to be evil have become good in people’s minds, and it’s no surprise that the same attitudes have taken over the music world. We all participate in this cultural apocalypse every time we watch a TV show, see a movie, or listen to a song uncritically. It would be better to just turn everything off.

  • colevish

    It is very sad that Lil’ Wayne has been given the responsibility of representing such a beautiful, rich and virtuous culture as Hip-hop. But as the last commenter touched upon, this is a media problem more than anything. The real patriarchs of Hip-hop were anything and everything but immoral. Before the art was hijacked and propagandized by the giant monopolized media system that now leads our culture of death, Hip-hop was an expression of the magnificence of the human being and the creative power of the personal soul to express God/Love/Truth/Unity through writing, singing, musical production, dance, clothing, drawing and spontaneous speaking.

    The content of most “mainstream” Hip-hop is the result of a larger evil conspiracy to dehumanize us and enslave us in materialism and consumerism that the enormous media corporations and conglomerates are espoused to.

    The point of this comment is that in what is considered “true Hip-hop”, that is, the artwork that is loyal to the vision of its founders, there is an absolutely amazing variety of profoundly educational work/music/art that is overwhelmingly Christian and unquestionably inspired by The Spirit of Love that unites us all.

    And in defense of the undeserving Lil’ Wayne, he is does have impressively commanding spirit and he has used in few rare songs to promote an attitude of Christian Hope and Love. Though these songs obviously contradict with songs like “Lollipop”, I think Wayne like so many others mainstream rappers is put in a position where his success is attached to his often immoral messages simply because thats the kind of “art” the media wants us to learn from. The real hard-working, honorable, respectable, God-fearing masters and teachers of the Hip-hop artform, as in most other popular artforms, hidden from the public eye as much as possible for the sake of making people think guys like Lil’ Wayne are as good as it gets. In reality, when seen through the eyes of the majority of the Hip-hop population, music like Wayne’s compares to children’s finger paintings being sold alongside Van Gogh’s or Rembrandt’s as if it deserved the same prestige. But thank God, the masters of this art are slowly learning how to sneak through the filters of the mainstream and get a sincerely uplifting, masterfully refined message of Divine Love expressed through their music. Some compromise the message more than others, but the overwhelming majority of the Hip-hop community as a whole serves the reconciliation of our lives with God’s Will of Love and Unity.

  • deirdrew

    It’s all about the god of money. This ”Christianity” is secularized and has nothing to do with God or sacrifice. It is an Oprah ”christianity.”

    I consider ”Hip Hop” trash. It uses people, and does nothing for the human spirit. This is not the ”music” of the ’70′s. It is a deliberate choice to capitalize on so many things it would take another page of just writing about this. it shocks and isolates minorities and young people.

    I want my right to privacy, my cone of privacy where these monsters don’t intrude.

  • mrafie

    Thanks for the article, Anthony. Forgive the tangental here, but I read part of an interview Barack Obama did with Rolling Stone and he discusses the genre as ingenious, weakly lamenting the misogyny and materialism (why stop there? how ’bout profanity, racism, crassnes . . .etc, etc?). Yet,he also cites Jay-Z “Big Pimpin’” as a brilliant talent and someone who can positively shape attitudes (whose?).

    Maybe I’m getting old and snarky, but I really don’t want a president who thinks this is genious quality stuff (or that abortion is okay, or that kindergartners should be taught sex ed, etc, etc). Just another vivid example of the great cultural (an moral) divide that this election embodies.

  • nativity

    DECREE ON ECUMENISM
    UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO

    INTRODUCTION

    1. The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided.(1) Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.

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