1. Joe Carter’s statement bears heeding: “Those of us who believe, as I do, that the medium of Reformed hip hop is defensible should give these men—and other critics—an opportunity to hear an informed defense of the genre as a genre. It’s not enough to condemn, we must also convince. But before we can convince others that the genre itself can have a positive—or at least neutral—influence apart from the message it carries, we should first be sure that we ourselves understand the medium we are defending.” One reason I’m not convinced of the legitimacy of rap for Christian purposes is that I’ve never heard such a defense. I’ve heard that it is more word-centered than other genres, which may be true―but it fails to address the issue of genre. I’ve heard that musical style is neutral, but that is theologically defective. And I’ve heard those who object to using Christian rap called names such as legalist and racist, but again no argumentation regarding the genre itself—which is necessary to properly evaluate the charges of legalism or racism.
2. The charge of racism seems especially uncareful. First, many of those who object to the use of Christian rap objected earlier to the use of Christian rock. If the objection to Christian rock was not racially motivated (and I don’t know that anyone claims that it was), why should the objection to Christian rap be racially motivated? Furthermore, what is to be made of John McWhorter’s concern that “Hip-Hop holds blacks back” by giving them a template for anti-social behavior that “retards black success” and which corrupts many positive things that previously existed in black popular culture? Or what should the Christian think of hip hop artist KRS-One’s description of hip-hop culture in a Tavis Smiley interview: “Well, rap music, and I will say hip-hop culture in and of itself, but rap music as its calling card, offers to young white males a sense of rebellion, freedom, manhood, courage. That’s what it means when you see a 50 Cent or Snoop Dogg or someone on television just blatantly defying the law and doin’ what they’re doin’. No one sees the thug and the criminal. They see courage. They see, ‘This is my chance to wild out and be rebellious in the form of music’”? Is a Christian not allowed to critique such a culture?
3. Why is there such invective toward men who counsel against the use of rap music for Christian purposes? Do they not have the liberty to express and practice their view (an increasingly minority view at that) without being called Pharisees or racists? Some of the speakers on the recent video were not as articulate as might be hoped given the pressure of answering a difficult question on the spot, but was there nothing accurate or worthy of consideration in what was said? Both Scott Aniol’s and Joel Beeke’s responses were careful and well thought out—they deserve some thoughtful interaction in return.