You know your album cover is controversial when non-Christian media outlets are wondering aloud if the artwork is blasphemous. At press time, a simple Google search for the terms “Game,” “Jesus Piece,” and “Blasphemous” produced over 126,000 results, of which 9 of the first 10 raised the possibility via a headline. Popular sites like Vibe.com, Bossip.com and HipHopWired.com were among those who pondered this situation.
Even the Christian community was up in arms about the Game Jesus Piece album cover. A recent article on the ChristianPost.com discussing Game’s baptism by Bishop Noel Jones at the City of Refuge prompted readers to question whether Game had truly had a conversion experience. His salvation was discussed in response to his Jesus Piece album cover and comments he’s made in recent interviews.
While I understand why the Game Jesus Piece album cover has caused this much commotion, I don’t think we should be surprised by this. Anytime you put a red bandana on Jesus and have chronic leaves in the background, people are going to raise a stink. This whole situation should not be a shock though. What we are seeing manifest via Game’s new album speaks to three larger issues within our society.
1. Dying to Self is Hard Work
In a recent interview with Rap-Up TV, Game states the following:
I don’t want to feel like I can’t love God or appreciate Jesus and have to put down my blunt. I want to smoke, maybe shower up and then go to church, get the word, then walk out of church. Maybe smoke again, hit a strip club or two and you know do me. I don’t want to be ridiculed. You know what I’m saying?
I totally understand his mindset. As Lecrae and KB said on Rehab, “I Use to do it Too.” When I first got saved and moved to Jersey, I’d hit 40/40 Club most Friday’s or Saturday’s to party and then go to church on Sunday’s. I even remember inviting a bunch of people from the single’s ministry that I was the leader of at church to the club with me. I’d drink occasionally, smoke a black and mild cigar and talk to women. I knew I shouldn’t have been there, but I didn’t want to give up the old me. I suspect this is Game’s struggle.
Remember, salvation is instant. Sanctification is a process. Neither are easy. Both require God’s Grace and the Holy Spirit. Game may be saved, but like ALL OF US, he’s not sanctified. That won’t fully happen until we get to heaven. We don’t know Game’s struggles or demons. Let’s keep him in prayer.
2. Many Believers Aren’t Being Discipled in the Context of True Community
I have no idea what Game’s inner circle looks like. He may have someone great discipling him. As an observer of the American Church though, my guess is he doesn’t. Most church “communities” don’t have the infrastructure set up to do life with someone new to the faith. Look at Acts 2:42-47, how many of our churches resemble anything close to that?
True community helps you work thru issues like dying to self and learning to truly live for Jesus. People within your community will hold you accountable for things that may not be pleasing to the Lord. Community will not only call you on it, but also teach you why it displeases God and help you deal with the demon causing you to struggle. When you don’t have true community around you, it’s easy to publicly blaspheme God with an album cover because no one is holding you accountable. Everyone is letting you do you, instead of teaching you to be Christ-like.
3. The Record Industry Only Cares About Making Money
In the early days of Hip Hop, the late 70’s and early 80’s, the message and tone of hip hop music was totally different than it is today. Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and even early Def Jam records’ material was relatively positive with little to no cursing. A large part of that was not just because of the worldviews of the people who made the music, but also, the people who owned the record labels. They were a part of the community they were promoting the music to and therefore had a vested interest in not just profits, but the message.
Once groups like NWA, Ice-T and 2 Live Crew began selling large amounts of records in the late 80’s with overtly negative messages and little radio airplay, the major, publicly own record labels realized they could cash in on Hip Hop. After the majors like Sony, Universal and Interscope acquired large shares in independent labels like Def Jam, an imbalance to creating music just for profit was born. Obviously, I’m truncating two decades worth of history into two paragraphs, but its important to understand this.
Game’s album cover has been great P.R. People are forced to pick a side. Media outlets that have never written an article about him are doing it now. People were anticipating it without even hearing a song. Somewhere, the folks at his record label are smiling. Obviously, they don’t care that many Christians think this is blasphemous. His label, Interscope Records is owned by Universal Music Group, which is a publicly traded company. Their goal is profits, not sending positive messages into the community.
This is why an album cover like this is allowed to come out by the label. It creates enormous buzz which in turn leads to more record sales, despite its controversial message.
So…What Should We Do?
Pray. Pray that more churches will take seriously the call to discipleship. Pray that more people who care about the messages being communicated will assume ownership and leadership positions at major record labels. Pray that Game understands why this album cover bothers so many people. Pray that he realizes that you must die to self if you truly want to serve Jesus. Pray that God will put quality Christians in his life who will encourage him and his wife to live a life pleasing to God. Pray that he continues to learn about God’s Grace and will learn to accept it and give it freely to others. Pray that he will desire Jesus’ Peace more than a Jesus Piece.
- Did the Game Jesus Piece album cover offend you? Why or Why Not?
- Are you surprised the way people have reacted to this? Why or Why Not?