Letter to Hip Hop

Abstract: The outpouring of lyrical poetry, fused with slick, well crafted, and hefty beats. That’s my definition of hip hop, a genre of incredible power and influence (some positive, some negative). In this video, US rapper ‘Bizzle’ reflects on and challenges some of the things that mainstream hip hop teaches us. I’d highly recommend listening even if you’re not a big hip hop fan.

I’m an ardent lover of hip hop/rap music. At it’s best, its blissful beats, charming melodies and poetic artistry make it so easy and delightful to listen to. It has historically been praised for helping break down racial and ethnic divides in the USA and has brought about lots of other positive change over time. Having grown up in what I would call a ‘hip-hop generation,’ it is clear that it’s power and influence are not always a good thing. We are all products of our environments and a big part of youth culture today is influenced by hip hop. Rap videos are typically filled with ‘mob-like’ groups of men either flashing weapons or giving off that impression as a symbol of their power. The overuse of sexual references coupled with rappers that would appear to be defined by what they have (e.g. expensive cars, jewellery, etc) are also typical characteristics that form the marketable hip hop artist/video. One of my favourite positive rappers, Jahaziel, paints a lovely picture in his rhymes of the kind of impact that our background, surroundings and personal choices have on us when he says this:

“They say some things are taught, some things are caught, some things are said, some things are thought, we all absorb stuff that we’ve grown around, that’s how it goes around.” (Song: ‘Round and Round’ – by Jahaziel)

The danger, I feel, with the single perspective portrayed by hip hop is that it affects young minds that grow up wanting that same lifestyle – the life of a hustler – even though the harsh realities of ‘ghetto life’ or working in the music industry would frighten the majority of us that buy into it. Hip hop repeatedly pushes messages through our moral and value filters and can get our heads bopping whether we agree with the lyrics or not (this might include how we view women, treat money, or even see God). It affects how we dress, who we hang out with, how we think and in a nutshell who we are. Another of my favourite rappers, ‘Shai-Linne’ (pronounced ‘Shy Lynn), summarises his view on why more conscience rap isn’t pushed forward by mainstream sources.

“The radio refuse to play stuff like this, cause they’re shady so they choose the unrighteous. They want your minds – vain guys long for power. Labels pay ’em to play the same five songs an hour. A lot ain’t even hot. In fact, I heard the same song so many times I almost forgot it was wack. When the same message is pumped repeatedly, maybe not immediately, but sooner or later the seed will be a tree.” (Song: Slow Down – Shai Linne ft. Eric)

We might not think that what we listen to affects us much, but in the same way that we are what we eat, we are what we listen to. I do hope this challenges you to think more about what your mind is absorbing however well articulated or nicely sounding. As much as I still love hip hop/rap music, I’m a huge advocate for more lyrically sound and conscience rappers like Lecrae, Shai Linne, S.O, Trip Lee, Jahaziel, Flame, Dwayne Tryumf and Guvna B to name a few.

Blessings 🙂

“Tales of an Introvert” – Short Poem

Plant 1

Background: As I reclined late last Monday night and listened to Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Little Death’ instrumental, words gradually formed in my mind and a week and a half later, this is the result. Enjoy! Note: This is not the experience of everyone that would consider themselves an introvert.

As I sit and reminisce on a day gone by,

I’m left reeling, wishing “maybe I could turn back time?”

Wish I said all of the things that were locked up in my mind,

But now times gone, it feels like I’m wasting mine.

Feeling lost and alone like a dog without a bone,

Or better yet, a centre-back that’s not marking his zone,

Outcast, like a rapper that’s not flashing his chrome,

Though his got it in abundance, and everybody knows.

World seems like a puzzle that my piece won’t fit,

Say I’m shy and retiring, or I just don’t fit,

The world seems like a stage for those that are extroverted,

The thoughts of an introvert, poetically illustrated.

Opportunities to say things on the tip of my tongue,

When placed in a group, my head slowly drops to the ground,

Like a number in the crowd, feel I’m lost and can’t be found,

So I scramble for my scrapbook to ink thoughts down.

I recharge in solitude, for there lies my fortress,

Walks, music or books, the places I find my fortunes,

Acceptance not needed, I can be who I am,

For God loves me enough, he even came as a man.

Introverts such as Ghandi, Abe Lincoln and Einstein,

All well known thinkers, notable in their lifetimes,

So I don’t need to change how my image is portrayed,

For I know that I’m “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

© 2015, by Gome

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”

Psalm 139:14

Football Culture: An emotional connection


City Church FC 6 – 6 Grace Church

October 2014

Growing up in a family and community that was football crazy, its only natural that its become one of my passions in life – playing it, watching it, even talking about it. I remember goals from years ago, who scored them and on occasions the day they happened (#sadIknow). As the years have gone by, however, my connection to the beautiful game has somewhat changed. If you knew me back at school, you’d probably know when my team Man United lost as it would sometimes affect my day or even week. And a win? Well, that meant a week of ecstasy (excitement that is, just to clarify :P). It’s this emotional connection that a lot of us [guys predominantly] place on football or sport in general that got me thinking.

Whether its shouting at a team mate, the tele or each other, football is the one thing I know that can bring out a persons true colours without them even realising it (myself included).

About 2 years ago, I was part of a 6-a-side team with my friends and housemates from uni. Our team (Unreal Madrid) had an incredible season which included a 10 game winning streak at the start. We eventually finished second, just 2 points off top spot. In the first game against the eventual champions, there was a guy that was quite aggressive in his approach, attitude and language (which was very colourful). He was constantly arguing with the referee and his team mates, committing unnecessary fouls etc. It all boiled over when we beat them 2-1 and he un-sportingly (and rather blatantly) ignored each one of my team mates offer for a handshake. Now, I don’t know that guy and that could have just been a spur of the moment reaction. But a lot of us can probably relate to a time when we’ve been so emotionally attached to a game that it almost feels like an outer body experience – our inner person momentarily takes over and we can almost justify going out of control. I remember being on my knees and going crazy when my country (Zambia) beat the favourites (Ivory Coast) in the Africa Cup of Nations final 2012. Unreal indeed!! But where did all that emotion come from?

US musician Ason writes about a woman’s effect on a man and says this:

“She’ll make a grown man cry like a baby at birth, make him take all his earned and make him waste all his worth.” (Song: Walk Upright, by Ason)

You could almost directly apply this sentiment to sport. But how can something that is ultimately designed to be exercise and harmless fun rule over us? We always go on about how footballers on the screen should have better attitudes on and off the pitch yet we follow suit when put in the same situations.

I remember once hearing a preacher say he is worried about how much more emotional and enthusiastic men in the church are about football than about God.

Sport is one of the best ways to physically unwind from stress, so don’t lose your passion, enthusiasm or enjoyment of it. Enjoy the moment, push yourself and have fun with others! But don’t let it rule over you so much that you sit depressed at school or work because your team lost. I pray that you’ll be challenged and encouraged in some way as you engage with sport this week.

Peace 🙂

1 Month Review: Top 10 Posts


“Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re far too kind!”

Wow! Its already been a month of blogging and I’ve absolutely loved every bit of it so far. Thank you so much for engaging with the material, supporting and encouraging me through it. Lots more fun stuff still to come (e.g. poetry, photography, football, stories, art, music etc) so stay tuned. Here’s a review of your top 10 posts this month.

Top 10 Posts & Pages: (Jan 12th – Feb 12th 2015)

1. Architecture: Isn’t that like 7 years?


2. Learn generosity when you’re poor


3. Welcome to my world


4. My testimony – new life


5. Mindless violence – short poem


6. Father I turn to you (by Jahaziel)


7. Chipolopolo 2015: Can history repeat itself?


8. Mess (with lyrics) – B.Reith


9. Monday blues: Getting through the week


10. About Me


“Ebenezer; till now the Lord has helped me.”

(1 Samuel 7:12 – paraphrased)

Ebenezer means ‘Stone of help.’

“Poor man’s tale” – Short Poem


Background: Inspired by an experience I had a few weeks ago when I walked passed two beggars who asked for money. My response was to politely say “sorry” and walk past. The thing is, I knew I had £5 in my pocket, but I made the assumption (like a lot of people, unless I’m alone) that they would use it for other illicit or unlawful means than food. But what if I was wrong? This poem challenges my prejudices from their perspective.

The lights shine bright in the city that never sleeps,

Yet as one of its sons, my heart and soul weeps,

World whizzes on by in its gluttonous deceit,

Not caring that the life within me slowly seeps.

Harsh winter, cold nights, begging others for mercy,

My existence unnoticed, and it really does hurt me,

Pretending to look busy, they ignore and walk past,

Left asking myself “how long will this pain last?”

Justifying their position, they assume I’m an addict,

Not knowing I’ve been clean for weeks, maybe a dozen?

Don’t judge me, I beg, as we’ve only just met,

A day in my shoes, you’ll say it’s much harder, I bet.

It’s cold, you’re ignored, and exposed to the elements,

Abandoned in negligence, considered irrelevant,

It’s harsh and its dark, looking out for fresh hope,

Instead of being caught up in the snare of blazing dope.

Just halt for a minute! Let me make this clear,

It’s not all my fault the reason that I am here,

If changes could be made, then believe me I would,

But for now, please view me the best way that you could.

© 2015, by Gome

What is love?


“Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Welcome Home – Guvna B (ft. Ja Rule Interlude)

In this chilled, upbeat, lyrical exposition, Guvna B [London-based rapper] challenges the traditional view of ‘church’ that suggests you need to dress, act or be a certain way in order to be accepted.

The bible simply says ‘come as you are’:

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28)

In the interlude, famous US rapper Ja Rule shares his experience of church (past and present) and how his view of it being very strict and for a certain type of person was flipped in an incredible way when he visited Hillsong church.

The thing about church that I think is important to remember is that nobody’s perfect. We’re all human and that means that we all fail sometimes – including misrepresenting God in our words and actions. I hope you won’t let past experiences of church, or fallible Christian’s, stop you from exploring who God is for yourself.

Well worth a listen 🙂