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Sketch and David Debate Andy Mineo’s Christian Rap Was Corny Comments

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Sketch’s Take

On Tuesday afternoon, my Facebook page kinda blew up after I shared a link to Andy Mineo’s latest MTV News interview.

It wasn’t in the headline or body of my post, but readers seemed to gravitate toward Andy’s statements that read:

“I hope people listen to the music. Don’t write it off because there is a Christian doing it and it’s been labeled that way, because if I’m honest with you, Christian rap for the most part has been corny.”

And:

“It’s been wack and sometimes I don’t really enjoy that title because I feel like someone won’t give me a chance because they’re negatively associating that with everything else they’ve heard in the past,” he explained. “It’s like, give the music a chance, you’re gonna like it. It’s good.”

Mineo admitted in a post on his personal blog that he didn’t ace his interview. Here is an excerpt of his response:

“I am not beyond making mistakes. I can and will. I definitely could have chosen my words more carefully to consider my audience better in this interview. I’m learning. My apologies go out to anyone who may be offended by some of my statements on air. I appreciate those that have taken the time to call out error in love. Pray for me as I continue to grow and learn to be an effective missionary in hip hop culture.”

Wade-O Radio’s Sketch the Journalist and David Daniels wrote the following columns prior to Mineo’s apology, but still believe they hold relevancy. The phrase “if I’m honest with you” suggests that Mineo actually believes most Christian hip hop is corny and that the question didn’t just catch him by surprise like the one about Kanye West did. He also told Chris Baker of Syracuse.com in April that he didn’t like “calling it Christian rap.” However, these are not open letters to Mineo, but everyone connected to the subgenre — artists and fans alike.

The issue being that there are very few qualifiers in front of Andy’s words regarding the corniness of gospel rap. He didn’t hedge his bet with “the perception is” or “in the past” or “some” — he threw “most” Christian hip hop in that “wack” bucket. Artists and longtime fans of the genre rightfully took umbrage with such an assessment.

I’m not the kind of guy who likes to pick apart a Christian rapper’s public statements and parse every word choice for a hidden meaning or secret agenda. But this idea in particular — that Christian hip hop was/is wack before {insert name of your favorite rapper here} hit the scene — seems to be a persistent complaint and argument for the whomever is the latest one in front of the mic. As such, I think it can and should be addressed here.

I think I know what Andy was TRYING to say. It was the argument that the “Christian rap” label can be counterproductive to introducing the message and music to audiences who don’t already agree with it. It’s the same argument Lecrae has been making for the last few years and countless other Jesus-loving MCs who wanted to share their art with the masses (not just the church youth-group circuit) have employed before him.

But Andy’s comments that “for the most part” the genre has been corny makes him seem self-serving — as if he will be the one to single-handedly reverse the tide of public opinion regarding Christians who rap and the music they make. It appears to ignorantly deny or willfully ignore the more than 20 years of Christian hip hop as a whole — which, believe it or not, produced some albums that actually offer enjoyable listening experiences. It also acts like there aren’t corny rappers in the mainstream market.

Imagine if Andy had spoken this way about Southern rap. In fact, let’s just swap out the word “Christian” for “Southern” is his quote and see how it would resonate with an MTV audience.

“I hope people listen to the music. Don’t write it off because there is a Southern rapper doing it and it’s been labeled that way, because if I’m honest with you, Southern rap for the most part has been corny.”

And:

“It’s been wack and sometimes I don’t really enjoy that title because I feel like someone won’t give me a chance because they’re negatively associating that with everything else they’ve heard in the past,” he explained. “It’s like, give the music a chance, you’re gonna like it. It’s good.”

How does that hit you?

Don’t you think some readers might hold up their hand and ask “Umm … have you never heard of Scarface? Or Andre 3000? Ludacris? David Banner? Big K.R.I.T.?”

Wouldn’t that type of comment seem to deny the artists who opened doors for the latest crop of content creators?

Southern rap isn’t all or hasn’t always been “White Tee” snap music and 2 Chainz. The same goes for Christian hip hop.

Sure, we’ve had our share of acts and albums from Christians who may not have showcased top talent. But for every BB Jay – there was a Cross Movement or Corey Red. And before them, there were guys like Lil Raskull (an artist who has been name dropped as an influential voice for rappers like Tedashii and Dre Murray), Peace 586, GRITS or Gospel Gangstaz.

Again, I’m not looking to slam Andy because of his off-the-cuff response to a question in an interview with a huge media conglomerate. I’m sure I’d get jitters if in a similar situation and would surely fumble an answer or two.

But I sure would like to see the persistent myth of the wholesale wackness of rap by Christians come to its deserved demise.

David’s Take

Cross Movement (CM) explained to Wade-O Radio at Legacy 2013 why it flew the Christian hip-hop flag so high and unashamed.

No matter what it called itself, the content of The Ambassador’s, Phanatik’s, T.R.U.-L.I.F.E.’s and Tonic’s lyrics would inevitably demand the “Christian” label from non-Christian listeners. They realized something that many “rappers who are Christian” have yet to grasp — this is a label that’s irremovable when lyrics are Christ-centered. Due to this fact, CM chose to kick down the hip-hop door waving the Christian hip-hop flag.

And no one in their right mind would call CM corny. The quartet didn’t need to hide its label under its bushel to motivate KRS-One to call for a collab. They gained secular respect because of skill, not of a lack of attachment to “corny” CHH.

If this infamous Christian hip-hop “box” existed, KRS-One would’ve never called. In fact, artists put themselves in a box by bringing up the box. Again, non-Christians will label Christians who rap “Christian rappers” as soon as they hear Christ-centered lyrics.

That’s what’s so unfortunate about Andy Mineo’s comments on MTV.

First off, Mineo isn’t backsliding. He isn’t foolish. Those claiming such, especially ones also aiming a finger at his response to a Kanye West-question that caught him off guard and was taken completely out of context, are ignorant.

Mineo simply made an uncalculated claim that I’d bet a hero sub he’d take back if he knew the following.

He boldly claimed that most Christian rap is corny. Well, he’s stuck in Christian rap — not because of those who love the comfort of the bubble of a subgenre like many artists attempting to shed the label claim, but because that’s exactly what the world perceives songs like “Ex Nihilo” to be.

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As a result, Mineo essentially called the “box” that he’s stuck in corny, metaphorically shooting himself in the foot.

Ironic, isn’t it?

This isn’t to mention the alienation of “most” Christian rappers … that he’s stuck in a “box” with.

And don’t want to be called a Christian rapper? Don’t share the gospel. It’s that simple.

Just be a “positive hip-hop artist” and speak truth through a Christian worldview, which there’s nothing wrong with at all. But a label is as inevitable on gospel-laced lyrics as one’s skin color. That’s how blatantly different Christ is to the world.

Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what the intent of Mineo and Reach Records as a whole has been these past two years. They have a burning, admirable passion to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to those living by the gospel of Jay Z.

It’s so obvious that Bartimaeus could see it. There hasn’t been a single hint of backsliding or being ashamed (have you — yes keyboard-warrior-Pharisee-claiming-Reach-is-Illuminati, I’m talking to you — not heard Lecrae’s “Tell the World?”) Double for crying out loud.

Don’t question Reach’s heart. It doesn’t warrant being questioned. Instead, graciously offer method-related advice — intending not to highlight error, but help push forward the Unashamed Movement  the most efficient way possible hand in hand with Reach.

Imperfect Christians condemning other Christians’ mistakes is a never-ending, hopeless cycle. It’s the equivalent of a wide out complaining to a quarterback about an off-target pass after the receiver dropped the football the play before.

Mineo’s lack of discernment led to an unfortunate aftermath that Christians can react to in two ways. One, with bitterness causing this divide between camps to grow to that of a canyon. Or two, with mature reassessment of the entire situation, causing strengthening of the body.

End the friendly fire. And artists with Christ-centered lyrics embracing the Christian label like CM also wouldn’t be an unwise idea.

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Wade-O Radio is a ministry dedicated to helping young urbanites grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. The ministry includes a widely read blog and weekly podcast, The Wade-O Radio Show, that has been downloaded over a million times. You can follow them on Twitter @Wadeoradio and like them on Facebook or subscribe to their free podcast in iTunes.

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