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 🙂

Mess (With Lyrics) – B.Reith

Lyrics:

Somebody get me out this mess I’m in
See I’ve been tryin’ to do the best I can
But I keep on stumblin’ over and over again
I ain’t got no more excuses for ya
All that I can say is sorry
Won’t you please come rescue me as quickly as you can

It’s crazy how far we go
Just to put a little gas in our ego
That’s what happens when your self esteem is low
We’ll do anything to get people to notice us I know
It’s tough but hey, imagine us throwin’ our lives away
Because we’re listenin’ to the voice inside that chants
Says we’ll never be significant if we can’t
Fit in so we get into all kinds of trouble tryin’ to be somebody we’re not
Since in the beginning we’ve been givin’ into the lie that says that we got
To keep up with the Jones’s or get left behind
So we end up in debt tryin’ to catch up it’s messed up
‘Cause ten years from now we can’t press rewind
I want to invest in what stands the test of time

Chorus

I’m so sick and tired of being down and out
Tryin’ to do what’s right but wrong keeps comin out
I keep on tryin to write but songs ain’t comin out
Plus now I’m getting older and time is runnin out I know,
Growth’s a process but I can’t see my progress
And I’m startin’ to feel that my labor’s in vain
So I hold on to the promise instead of my problems
Otherwise this stress is gonna drive me insane
Yes there’s more to life than workin’ 9 to 5
Buyin’ things that make you feel fuzzy inside
I tried it and it worked at first for five minutes
But left me in the cold to hang like icicles oh!
Now I’m froze like a popsicle
Feel’s like my mission’s impossible
I’m stuck up in a maze full of obstacles
Keep on ending where I’m not supposed to go

Chorus

I just want to be okay with who I am, not have to run away
I’m so tired of trends I can’t keep pretending
Playing these foolish games

Chorus

Father I Turn to You (by Jahaziel)

LYRICS: See, I remember back then back when I was lacking in understanding. Gospel rapping, but words and actions just weren’t matching. Knowledge I was lacking. Weak defence had me entangled and trapped in the sins I preached against. Guilt complex is my recompense. I’m sliding! Why don’t I just speak to my friends instead of hiding? Told the whole clan the old man died in baptism. Who was I kidding? Fact is that I was backsliden. Lacking vision with my candle hidden under covers. I’m only on evangelism when I’m with my brothers. Secret lovers with the devils old lies. Denied the most high. To scared to break the soul-tied, so I continued doing shows and tours. Hope nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. Surrounded by so-called friends, which one should I call on? Trying to tell them I was alright, but I was all wrong.

Lord, hear me please? Renew a right spirit within me.

Lord clean my heart, make me whole, cover me.

Lord, don’t even leave, won’t you please have mercy on me?

Heal my mind, set me free, Father I turn to you.

See, I was blaming Satan and the world for my spiritual state of health till I checked out flesh in the mirror and spelt “S.E.L.F” as the prime suspect and culprit. Preaching from the highest pulpit but in the prayer room I’m claustrophobic. I know its deep, I know I’m weak, you know me forever gossiping but when its time for witnessing I’m slow to speak. When its time to pray, I go to sleep. Time to fast, I go and eat. Time to stand and praise, I’d rather hold a seat. Back row, act low, hoping nobody notice me cause it ain’t hard to see I’m not what I’m supposed to be. But I don’t want to hear no lecture cause all I’ve got is peer pressure messing with my head like a hair dresser – its stressing me out! Doubt and fear had me in Trafalgar Square nearly drowning in beer. Loud and clear I need to change, but I didn’t know how thinking “maybe they’d be safety in the marital vows.” Thought that I could make a fresh start, all I did was break a fresh heart. We’re like vampires when it gets dark. My problems need to be solved and I’d be just a fool to get another involved. I need to make a resolve. Either be HOT or be COLD. Revelation 3:16 has got to be told; “Lukewarmness is going to be puked from the Lord’s mouth.” I read the chapter and knew I had to choose now. My head bowed as mad tears fell to the ground thinking of days when I was proud to be called God’s child. Now its all wild! I’ve been living foul. I want to turn around and live a lifestyle to make Christ smile. For too long I’ve been missing my place, dissing His grace and every time I sin it’s like I spit in his face. Time for living by faith, time for giving Him praise, time to fall prostrate on my face no time to waste and sing:

Lord, hear me please? Renew a right spirit within me.

Lord clean my heart, make me whole, cover me.

Lord, don’t even leave, won’t you please have mercy on me?

Heal my mind, set me free, Father I turn to you.

When I prayed that prayer sincerely, its like the Lord just answered me back and he spoke to my heart and this is what he said to me:

He said “Turn to me and live eternally, I know you don’t deserve to be blessed but yet mercifully I’m putting your sin on my son up on the cross, I promise you my best you’ve just got to give me yours.”