Category Archives: Music

The Reckless Love of God?

Every now and again a song will come out that takes the Christian world by storm. The latest mega-hit is “Reckless Love.” It’s a good tune. The Bethel version sounds great. I just spent over 40 minutes watching Anthony Brown and a young adult choir doing a more gospel type version of the song and I’m not gonna lie, I felt the Spirit of God as they were singing it.

But I’m a lyrics guy. I’m also theologically minded. So when I hear something in a song that doesn’t quite sit right I tend to focus in on it; sometimes to my detriment. I’m sure everyone knows where I’m going with this. I’m not the first to point it out or discuss it. In fact, John Piper addressed it on his Ask Pastor John podcast a while back. It’s the word “reckless” in the song. Why is it there and how does it function?

I’ve heard various explanations, one being that God will do whatever it takes to get to his people. Okay, that sounds good, and I agree, but does that equate to recklessness? Let’s take the definition that comes up with a simple Google search:

reckless3

Now I want us to think about this for a second… Have you thought about it? Does the God we know, love, and worship fit the description of the adjective “reckless”? Does God act without thinking? Let’s look to a piece of Paul’s glorious run-on sentence in Ephesians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:3–10)

Look at the language Paul uses to describe God’s actions here. He says that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Choosing requires intentionality. Doing it before the foundation of the world requires premeditation. Let’s continue… He says that we’ve been predestined to adoption as sons. Again, predestination requires premeditation and adoption requires intentionality. No one was ever adopted on accident or without thought. And he did this according to the purpose of his will. Folks, there was purpose in this! And it was according to his will! Paul speaks of wisdom and insight and a plan to unite all things in him in the fullness of time! This is the polar opposite of recklessness.

The crucifixion was not an act that was carried out with no thought to the consequences of the action. Likewise with the resurrection. God knew exactly what he was doing. He still does. His love is many things, but reckless is not one of them. There is a way that God can do whatever it takes to get to his people without it being reckless. For God to cast light on a shadow or climb a mountain or tear down a lie, as the song says, he does not need to do so recklessly. He’s God! Leaving the 99 sheep to rescue the 1 is not a reckless act. It’s very thoughtful. It’s very intentional.

We could go through Scripture from Old Testament to New and point out example after example of God’s divine plan in action. How he had things set up that seemed one way to us but in the grand scheme of things were really another way altogether (think about Joseph being sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and unjustly imprisoned only to be called upon by Pharaoh to interpret a dream and rise to a level of prominence that would allow him to save his family from a sure death that would have resulted from famine). The point is that of all of God’s attributes, recklessness is not one of them.

Now let me say this: I like the song. In fact, after hearing the version I heard this morning I’d go so far as to say that I like it a lot. I just don’t like that one adjective. I’d prefer to say “endless” or “precious” or “relentless” love of God. I think that they’re all theologically correct. Endless and precious wouldn’t change the cadence of the chorus at all and relentless would change it minimally. I think for the point that the song is making relentless makes more sense than reckless. God will stop at nothing to get the one sheep that goes astray. He’s relentless in his love for us; never letting up. But that jives with God’s thoughtful, intentional, well planned out initiative for saving his people.

B”H

Got My Keyboard Back

I don’t believe that I mentioned this but the keyboard I got a couple months back to make music with broke after having it for only a month. I came home from work one day, turned it on, and was met with a non-functioning piece of hardware. I couldn’t return it to B&H whom I bought it from because it broke on day 32. They have a 30 day return policy. So I had to go through the manufacturer warranty process.

I contacted Akai once with no answer. I contacted them again with no answer. After a week or so I got two emails from different representatives. One contained instructions on what to do to see if I could get the keyboard working. It didn’t help. So I contacted that rep and told him it didn’t work. No answer, for like two weeks. So I contacted the other one and explained what happened. He responded promptly with instructions on how to get the whole thing going.

So I printed out the address label provided and spent $30 of my own money to ship the thing to one of their repair centers. The other day I got the paperwork on what was wrong (it was something on the circuit board) and what was done to fix it. They promptly shipped it back and now it’s in my possession. I’ll be plugging it in shortly to make sure everything is working properly and then I can get back to my burgeoning career as a music producer.

Just thought I’d share.

B”H

Back to the Beats

I’ve noted many times throughout the years that I have an addictive personality. Before Christ it was drugs and women. After coming to Christ it was study, books, technology, and most recently music. I used to make music in my teens and early 20s. I always gravitated towards rapping rather than producing but I did produce a little bit back then as well.

Well for whatever reason I got this urge to start messing with music production again. For a while I tried to ignore it because I didn’t think I had the time to learn how to use the software and hardware needed for the task. But the urge persisted and the nature of addiction is to give into urges.

So I got Logic Pro X (for the express reason that it’s made specifically for OS X and I wanted whatever would give me the least amount of trouble). I watched some stuff on YouTube and then started learning the program a little bit. It’s fairly intuitive and I got the basics down pretty quickly but I know it’ll take me a long time to learn the ins and outs.

I made a couple of beats using just my iMac’s keyboard but soon realized that I wanted to do more and was limited by my lack of hardware. So after much consideration and quite a bit of research I decided to purchase a MIDI controller. I opted for the AKAI MPK249 since AKAI is a name I know and trust and it was the second choice of the people who wrote the article that influenced my decision to get a MIDI controller. For the record, the only reason it was their second choice was its price as compared to their first choice.

So now I have the basics. A good piece of hardware and a good piece of software. I’ve been making a beat a day just to get into the swing of things. None of them are complete but that’s okay because I’m trying to learn the program and keyboard. I’ve been posting snippets on Instagram and I’ll probably start putting some stuff up on the blog for kicks and giggles.

So yeah, making music is my new addiction at the moment. It’s fun. I’m not trying to make a living doing this but it’s a nice hobby.

B”H

Out of Practice

I taught last night’s Bible study at my church. It went well. At least I think it did. But then I stopped by a friend’s house to drop something off and he invited me in to show me his home studio. He’s got a really nice setup. Acoustic foam as far as the eye can see. A keyboard that he’s got connected to ProTools on his iMac. Electric drum kit; really nice microphone sitting in a moveable/adjustable mic booth he made himself. A high quality audio interface and honestly the nicest set of headphones I’ve ever seen or worn.

IMG_1671 IMG_1672

I was really impressed with what he’s got going on down there. He had a friend of his over there engineering some stuff that they were sending off to be mastered. As I was getting ready to leave he kept talking about throwing on a beat and getting me to freestyle. I kept declining. Then he said he wanted to just get me in the booth so he could snap a pic on put it on Instagram saying I came out of retirement. Anyway, to make a long story short, I did come out of retirement and I spit one of the first raps I wrote as a Christian (it was the only one I could remember).

It was fun to do it but man, I’m out of practice! I completely ran out of breath at the end (honestly, I was searching for breath after the first 4 bars) and I felt like I was behind the beat for almost the whole thing. It’s crazy to realize how important rapping regularly and consistently is if you want to do it well. There’s a reason that Lil’ Wayne got good when he was doing a dozen mix tapes a month. Practice makes much better than no practice (it doesn’t make perfect; only God is perfect and nothing makes God). In any event, I wouldn’t say that I’ve got the bug to pick up rapping again, but I’d like to at least be able to breathe right if and when I do!

B”H

Favorite Covers

A while back Jason Gardner shared a bit about some of his favorite cover art in recent memory and asked his readers to share theirs. Well, in keeping with his request, and modifying it slightly, here are my favorite covers and the reasons I like them.

Album: Stephen the Levite — To Die is Gain

This is a powerful image. It’s a cartoon, but not childish in any way. The light beaming down directly on the man about to be stoned while just missing the crowd still covered in shadows tells so much of the story of sin, salvation, and discipleship.

Book: Bart Ehrman — How Jesus Became God

This cover is crude in many respects. It’s a crude drawing in the sense that it’s a step or two above stick figures, but that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s like a cave painting. But the imagery itself is crude in the sense of being offensive. The men who have constructed the idol Jesus are now climbing the ladder to place what appear to be beams of light, or radiating glory one might say, above Jesus’ head. Ehrman’s whole spiel about Jesus’ exaltation to Godhood by men is crude and offensive. But man, what a nice looking book cover!

Film: None

To be honest, I can’t think of a DVD/Blu-ray cover that has grabbed my attention, like ever. Sadly, they’re all basically the same. Place a picture of the star(s) of the film on the cover with some city or explosion in the background, add a tag line, and you’re done. It’s really pretty sad.

Song: Marilyn Manson — Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

The original by the Eurythmics is one of my favorite songs of all time. I’ve had it as one of my phone’s ringtones for years (long before I had anything even approaching a smartphone). Marilyn Manson’s cover of the song captures the original feel while adding a little more creepiness and and a lot more edge to it. If I had to pick between the two I’d pick the original because the added oomph detracts from the song’s monotone brilliance, but it’s still done really well. For the record, I never liked the video, which is full of what are supposed to be disturbing images. I’ve never been disturbed by them but not being disturbed isn’t enough to make me find it visually appealing.

B”H

I Want More of You God?

We sing this song by Jesus Culture in church called “Set a Fire” that in part says:

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain
That I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God

Now let’s lay aside intent1 for a moment and focus on content (I’m sometimes accused of being nitpicky about what people say instead of focusing on what they mean). God is a Trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Let’s assume that when the song says “I want more of you God” that God means Trinity, the Christian God. In what way can we get “more” of God?

I know that divine simplicity has fallen on hard times, so it’s quite possible that the composers of the song don’t believe that God is simple (i.e., not being composed of parts). Perhaps they believe that we’ve only got part of God and that there are other parts that we’ve yet to get. Perhaps they even believe that we’ve only gotten some of the divine persons of the Trinity and not all of them. I don’t know.

But I’m hung up on this “I want more of you God.” I can’t seem to shake it. When we sing it at church I actually start speaking in tongues (yes people, they’re still around, and I really speak in them) because I can’t quite bring myself to say it. I think it’s bad theology regardless of how the songwriters intended it. Sorry if I’m being nitpicky, but it’s my nature. Now let’s get back to this God being a Trinity of persons thing.

Jesus said that no one comes to him unless the Father draws them. He also said that he’s the only way to the Father. He again says that eternal life is predicated on knowing both Father and Son. In another Gospel he says that no one knows the Father except the Son and those whom the Son has chosen to reveal the Father to. What’s my point? Well, basically that we can’t have one without the other. Salvation is all about Father and Son.

But what about the Spirit? Well, he’s there to. In the same sentence Paul tells the Romans that he’s the Spirit of God and of Christ. He’s the promised gift. The one who baptizes believers into the body of Christ. The one who fills, enables, and empowers us for service. He the other Comforter that Jesus said was coming after him. He’s the one who convicts us of sin and draws us to repentance. In other words, there’s no salvation without the Spirit, or the Father, or the Son.

The writer to the Hebrews spoke of the Son offering himself to God (the Father) through the eternal Spirit in order to purify us from dead works so that we may serve the living God. Paul said that it’s through the Son and in the Spirit that we have access to the Father. My point is pretty much that in the New Testament, when you got one, you got all three. So how exactly do we get “more” of God? Why would we want “more” of him?

I can’t help but hear the phrase and think that perhaps somehow God hasn’t given all of himself to us. Like he’s held something back and if we’re really eager, or really reverent, or really whatever then he’ll reward us with a bit more. But that sounds like some ancient heresy or something. I also hear a subtle blaming of God for a deficiency in us. Look at the lyrics again:

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can’t contain
That I can’t control
I want more of you God
I want more of you God

So it seems that God has to both set the fire and give more of himself. Or read another way, he has to set the fire so that we desire more of him. In other words, God has to make us want more of him. But then that would just confirm that he hasn’t given all of himself in the first place, no? Any way you slice it, it’s bad theology, and I don’t think bad theology gets a pass just because we’re singing it.

B”H

1 For the record, I think the intent of the song is to say that we’d like to get to know God better and grow deeper in our relationship with him. On this reading God has given all of himself, but there’s always more we can learn about him, like with any relationship. But I’m not convinced that saying we want more of God is the most effective way to communicate this idea.

Curious Assumptions

I listen to “secular” music. There, I said it. I place “secular” in scare quotes for reasons I won’t get into right now. In any event, it’s interesting to see how people’s (usually well meaning Christians but sometimes nonbelievers as well) minds run wild when they learn this about me. They begin to act as if all I do is listen to music, or at least all the music I do listen to (among the other things I do) is “secular.”

I can’t see why assumptions like this ever pop into anyone’s mind. I generally listen to music in the car. Almost never at home. The earbuds that came with my iPhone have never been opened. The ones that came with my Galaxy S5 were given to my daughter before I even gave her the phone. I have Sony earphones hanging from my desk, but they get plugged in to view media (YouTube, Netflix, etc.). Music just isn’t that big a part of my life, which isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy it, I just don’t have much time for it.

When I do listen to music my taste is varied. Hillsong is in regular rotation in iTunes. So is the 80s on 8 on my XM Radio. And yes, I listen to rap music, mostly from the 90s. I’m not a fan of today’s music in general. Any genre. But that’s another post for another day. In any event, I’ve said all this to say that I think folks overreact at the mere mention is listening to anything “secular” (truth is that most Christians will allow some kind of “secular” music as okay; but it’s only okay when it’s what they like to listen to).

But this isn’t a post presenting an apologetic for “secular” music in general or rap music in particular. It’s not my justification (and I use that word loosely since I’m of the opinion that we tend to justify things that are wrong or that we believe to be wrong) of listening to it. It’s me highlighting what I think are curious assumptions. It’s a weird way to think.

B”H

Top 10 List: Lyricists

Recently I listened to an interview where Kool G. Rap (one of the most talented lyricists of his era) was asked to name his top 10 lyricists. I believe he said:

  1. Himself
  2. Big Daddy Kane
  3. Rakim
  4. Jay-Z
  5. Nas
  6. Eminem
  7. Scarface
  8. Ice Cube
  9. Big Pun
  10. KRS One

He didn’t put them in any specific order. When asked about the Notorious BIG he made the statement that he considered Biggie a great rapper, not a great lyricist. On the one had I can see his point; on the other I was shocked and appalled. Biggie didn’t have the most intricate rhymes in the world, but he painted a picture with lyrics that few others could. I was talking to a coworker about this and he was livid. So much so that he started getting loud every time he thought about it over the course of 2 or 3 days!

Personally I think that any list that has Cube and Face on it but excludes Big is extremely flawed. But then I realize that there’s no science to this; it’s all about opinion and personal taste. So having said that, my top 10 lyricists of all time are (in a very particular order; an order that shifts daily depending on how I think about it and what I’m listening to!):

  1. Eminem
  2. Jay-Z
  3. Nas
  4. Notorious BIG
  5. Big Pun
  6. Andre 3000
  7. Jadakiss
  8. Redman
  9. Prodigy
  10. Kendrick Lamar

This is slightly different from my top 10 rappers list from a few years back. Kendrick Lamar hadn’t dropped yet and I do recognize the distinction that Kool G. Rap was making between a rapper and a lyricist. I think that all of these artists are great lyricists. I’d even put Kanye West in that category now, although his earlier work wasn’t all that lyrical to me. Some might be surprised to see Kendrick Lamar on there but I’ve yet to hear a wack verse from him. It doesn’t hurt his case that he’s unique and that he put out one of the most well thought-out and entertaining albums I’ve heard in years with good kid, m.A.A.d. city.

And that’s all part of being a great lyricist. Consistency, creativity, wordplay, delivery, intricacy, originality, flow, etc. all factor in. Joell Ortiz is a fantastic rapper, but he can’t do a concept song to save his life. Such was Canibus’ problem as well. Snoop had all of the above mentioned attributes save consistency. He’d rightly deserve a spot on that list had he not done so many wack songs in the No Limit days.

You’ll also notice that there’s no names of rappers who dropped in the 80s on there. Why? Well, even though Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, and Kool G. Rap were great lyricists for their time, they don’t measure up to those who came after. They may well have influenced all of these artists, but the bar was raised and they sit squarely under it. And I will defend that opinion until my dying day.

B”H

5 Albums

There’s a blog/website called 5 Albums, which features guest posts from various contributors who all talk a little bit about their 5 favorite albums of all time. I found out about it through Tony Hunt, who happens to be the first guest contributor. In theory I love the idea of such a blog, but in actual practice I find myself frustrated that none of the 20+ guest contributors to date have listed a rap album in their top 5 (at least not that I’m aware). In terms of genre there’s not a great deal of variation (lots of classic & indie rock) even if the different bands loved by the contributors have vastly different sounds.

So I thought I’d list my top 5 albums and say a few words about each. Keep in mind that choosing 5 albums is a near impossible task. This list could look completely different a week from now because there are so many albums that I love. I’ve tried to show a bit of diversity in the list. I could have gone all rap but my top 5 rap albums is a decidedly different list from my top 5 albums in general. So here they are in no particular order:

illmatic

Nas, Illmatic (Columbia, 1994). I remember vividly the day I purchased this album. I was 12 years old, going on 13, and I found myself in the Princeton Market Fair (a small mall in Princeton, NJ) on the day of its release. I was with my mother who was shopping for something else when I stepped into the record store and saw Nas’ debut Illmatic sitting proudly upon the top rack amidst a number of other good, yet inferior, tapes. I quickly grabbed one off the rack and proceeded to the register, only to be informed that I had to be 17 years of age to purchase this tape because it was adorned with a parental advisory sticker! “What?!!,” I exclaimed. I had never heard of such a thing. The Sam Goody at Quaker Bridge Mall had never carded me for an album. So I stepped out of the store deflated, only to see a friend of my mother’s who worked security at the Market Fair standing there. I asked him to purchase the tape for me and the rest is history. 

I popped this short 40 minute tape into my cassette deck and from the moment I heard Nas, Jungle, and AZ talking on “The Genesis” I knew that this album was something special. Nas is a master story teller as can be seen in the gritty street tale “N. Y. State of Mind” or his letter to a friend in prison “One Love.” Some have compared him to the living legend Slick Rick but I like to make the comparison in this way: Slick Rick and Nas both tell stories but Slick Rick tells cartoons while Nas tells feature films. “Life’s a Bi**h” (featuring Nas’ father on cornet) is a smooth melodic jazzy track, which contains the only true feature on the album, a guest verse from AZ (Pete Rock and Q-Tip both contribute hooks on later songs), which to my mind of still one of the greatest verses in rap history. But while I love every single song on the album, and could wax eloquent about each of them for hours, my hands down favorite song is “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” produced by Large Professor. Nas’ verses are flawless but the production speaks to my soul with its sample of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Kool and the Gang’s “N.T.” This was, is, and always will remain my favorite song of all time. Have a listen:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/97323218/It%20Ain%27t%20Hard%20to%20Tell.mp3″

thriller

Michael Jackson, Thriller (Epic, 1982). Thriller is the sound of my childhood. Like everyone else in the world who lived during the 80s, I was a huge Michael Jackson fan. I was but a baby of barely a year-and-a-half when this album was initially released in 1982, but one of my first memories is being scared to death of the Thriller music video, which featured MJ as a cat-like werewolf and contained a zombie dance sequence. It was so bad that I would cry out in fear when I heard the song come on the radio! And yet Thriller contains the majority of my favorite MJ songs. “Beat It” inspired many a dance battle in my home and I have a spiritual connection with “Human Nature,” which I mentioned above. As with the above, I could rattle on forever about all that’s great about this album, but I needn’t say anything other than “Billie Jean,” “The Girl is Mine,” “Baby Be Mine,” and “P. Y. T.”! I should also note that MJ wasn’t just the singing talent on this album; he co-produced the entire thing with Quincy Jones. Whatever his failings as a man later in life, MJ has left a musical legacy to be celebrated and appreciated. Here’s a sample:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/97323218/Michael%20Jackson%20Human%20Nature%20on%20Vimeo.mp3″

The Chronic

Dr. Dre, The Chronic (Death Row/Interscope, 1992). Dr. Dre is without doubt the finest hip hop producer of all time and probably one of the top 3 music producers of the modern era. His album sales speak for themselves, but more to the point, the quality of his music tells the real tale. The Chronic is an unapologetic gangsta rap album that epitomized the ethos of West Coast gang banging culture of the late 80s and early 90s. Fresh off his split with N.W.A., Dre had a new situation with Death Row records, which he co-founded with Suge Knight, and was ready to work on a solo venture. The result was a classic that many a rap enthusiast would place in their top 10 list no matter what coast they hail from. While the rap of the time was sample driven, Dre bucked the trend and showed just how heavily one could rely on instrumentality and still make hardcore rap music. He made synthesizers popular long before auto-tune came along and it’s impossible to find a song on The Chronic that doesn’t have big, lush sound. 

I honestly can’t pick a favorite song off of this album because I love them all so much. I equate The Chronic to Seinfeld. When someone tells me what episode was the best one I automatically think that they weren’t really a fan because the entire series has to be taken as a whole; one can’t be separated out from the rest. With diss records like “F**k wit Dre Day” to hard hitting head bangers like “The Day the Ni**az Took Over” & “A Ni**a Witta Gun,” The Chronic has something for the hardcore hip hop fans, but songs like “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and “Let Me Ride” appeal to those who like something a bit more melodic and relaxing. The bottom line is that tracks 1-16 on this album are flawless in every conceivable way. From the impeccable lyricism of Dre, Snoop, Daz, Korrupt, RBX, and the Lady of Rage, et al., to Dre’s vibrant “G-Funk” sound, The Chronic is a masterpiece. Listen for yourself:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/97323218/Nuthin%27%20But%20A%20G%20Thang.mp3″

Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Ruffhouse/Columbia, 1998). Whenever I hear someone say that Lauryn Hill is one of the best female rappers to have ever grabbed a microphone I immediately correct them by dropping the qualifier. Lauryn Hill is one of the best rappers, period. Her debut solo album proved this and so much more. Fugees fans were not surprised to see her talents showcased so greatly since we’d had two Fugees albums worth of Hill’s singing and rapping already, but it was nevertheless a surprise to see the consistent quality displayed on this album. A soulful blend of hip hop and R&B (with reggae/dance hall and even funk influences at times), Miseducation really cemented Hill’s spot as a writer and producer. There wasn’t a single aspect of this project that she didn’t have her hand in (even if she did cheat a few songwriters/musicians out of their credit).

From the hard hitting battle rhymes in “Lost Ones” to the upbeat bounce-inducing “Doo Wop (That Thing)” to harmonious collaborations with Mary J. Blige (“I Used to Love Him”) and D’Angelo (“Nothing Even Matters”), Miseducation has something for nearly everyone. My personal favorites are “Ex-Factor,” “To Zion,” and “Forgive Them Father,” but the truth is I can listen to this album from front to back without skipping anything other than the introduction. Aside from Hill’s talent, the thread that connects the disparate tracks is substance and consciousness. Hill had something to say on this album, whether it was about love, heartbreak, betrayal, loyalty, or the environment she was raised in. Unfortunately, she allowed some of her more fringe beliefs to alienate fans (look up her remarks about rather having her children starve than white people buy her album). But that doesn’t detract from this gem of an album. Here’s my favorite track:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/97323218/Ex-Factor.mp3″

nirvana-nevermind

Nirvana, Nevermind (DGC, 1991). I can easily close my eyes and transport into my uncle’s living room in Belmar, NJ when I was 10 years old where me and my cousin would blast the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video as loud as the TV would allow it. My cousin, who was 3 years my senior, was way more into rock than I was at the time and he put me onto the “grunge” sound. But in listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind today I feel like it transcends such a neat categorization (although many might argue that there’s nothing neat about the fusion that is “grunge”). To my mind, “Territorial Pissings” is a straight up punk song, and a pleasant one to listen to at that!

There were four songs in particular that stayed in heavy rotation in my mind, heart, car, and now cell phone; namely “Smells Like Teen Spirit;” “In Bloom;” “Lithium;” and “Come As You Are.” But truth be told, every song on this album is special. Kurt Cobain was a tortured soul whose genius often masqueraded as insanity. In a sense, it’s hard to choose Nevermind over Nirvana’s followup In Utero, because I feel like they’re two sides to the same coin. Nevermind was the grittier (which I attribute not only to Nirvana, but also to producer Butch Vig) album, but In Utero was just as raw, even if it had a bigger, more polished sound. Both albums clinched Nirvana’s legacy but it’s definitely Nevermind that evokes more memories for me. So here’s a little “Lithium” to stablize your mood:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/97323218/Nirvana%20-%20Lithium.mp3″

And those, my friends, are my top 5 albums as of today. I’d love to do some honorable mentions but that will start me down a path that may never end!

B”H

A Non-Christian Perspective on Christian Rap

I manage a barber shop that is Christian owned and operated. Part of the deal is that we have a clean and family friendly atmosphere. No cursing or vulgarity is allowed inside the shop by either employee or customer. We play only Christian music, movies, or television, except in the rare cases that an informative documentary is on.

We use Pandora for our music and one of the barbers had put on a Christian rap station last night so it was still on this morning when I turned the Google TV on. We listened to several hours of Christian rap today before a few of the unbelieving barbers asked for the station to be changed. It was interesting to hear their take on Christian rap.

The general consensus was that they didn’t like it because the Christian rappers tried too hard to sound like their secular counterparts. This didn’t make sense to the barbers who wondered why saved rappers would want to sound unsaved. It was confusing to them. It sent a mixed message.

And if I’m honest, it wasn’t merely how the rappers sounded that led the barbers to be confused; it was also what they said. Many of these rappers seemed to be glorying in their sinful pasts; describing in detail the myriad crimes they committed against God. Sure, they’d end by saying that they’d been delivered from said lifestyles, but the messages were anything but messages of deliverance.

It’s interesting to note that Lecrae was cited as the lone exception. Perhaps this is because he’s quite original and doesn’t mimic anyone in the secular landscape. I commended Stephen the Levite to them because of his originality and his ability to teach while rhyming. In the end though, the barbers preferred their rap secular, as I do.

B”H