As onlookers watched while our hero “CHH” would make his way to his feet, they couldn’t help but notice the towering giant called “Mainstream” prepare to unleash another series of ravaging blows to our miniature sized genre in proportion. Epic in stature, Mainstreams physique would cast a shadow for miles and darken the hearts of countless individuals of the planet “Earthopolis”. Yet those not directly affected by the colossus would still gaze in amazement and wonder “What exactly is it and where did it come from?”
Mainstream: At one time, success in the record industry was marked by the number of units sold which were only generated by “Hits” or a “Hits only” business model and anything else had no value. Indies really didn’t have a shot. As others would adopt this mentality, soon after would emerge this “Blockbuster only” business model called “Mainstream” or “Popular music” generating billions of dollars in revenue and some might add, the only real stream of income in the music business. It meant that only the hits would get played, only stars would get signed and before the internet, only a few would get distributed.
With Mainstream now controlling the vast majority of market share of planet Earthopolis, onlookers began to doubt if our hero could conquer this nemesis and rescue the countless souls of Earthopolis. “How will he ever reach the masses?” one would reply. “There’s got to be something we can do” said another. As our hero would begin to dust himself off, onlookers would realize that something was still draining his power. One would yell out “CHH, on your back! You’re covered with something! It looks like…the Cliques!”
The Bible says that “A good name is to be chosen over great wealth…” (prov.22:1) and because this is so, to what degree would you go to in order to protect it? You’ve labored in the faith for years and you’ve witnessed Gods fruitfulness in your ministry/ business venture. You’ve begin to gain an honorable reputation as you direct all the attention on Christ. People begin to see you a certain way, and have a certain perception of you when your name, ministry, product, or service, is mentioned. Your ministry is prospering. I think it can be safe to say that even though we are ministers, our names and reputations can also be viewed not only as services but “Brands”. When you think of the Pharisees in the time when Jesus walked the earth, they created a “name” for themselves or a “reputation” or a “brand” of ministry. Their brand of ministry was a legalistic one that was so set on upholding their image in the eyes of the people that they veered far away from Gods true intention. Jesus displayed a different brand of ministry so much that when mentioned you should think of love, mercy, forgiveness, etc. The Lords reputation is unmatched. There is no other brand like it. Yet to what degree did he go to in order to protect His name, His rep, His brand? Did He follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees commanding that when a leper is present, he or she must yell out “Unclean! Unclean!” Or when the leper would state, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean”, He would just respond by saying, “I am willing…be clean” Many Pharisees questioned the rep of Jesus and His disciples. So did He go to the extremes in order to protect it? Or, was it because of His love for others that He didn’t care about His rep at all?
A good is name “is” to be chosen over great wealth, but in our efforts to protect it can our affiliations become too exclusive? Can they become so exclusive to the point to where they are no longer positive affiliations, but Cliques?
What comes to mind when you think of the name “Hookers 4 Jesus”? (This is a real ministry by the way.) Does it shock you? Do you find it offensive? Or do you realize that this ministry is targeting prostitutes in order to get them off of the streets and winning many souls for the Kingdom of God? And that the name is actually a play-on with words meanings “Hookers” as in a “Fishing hook”. These ladies are fulfilling the Great Commission, but would you place their banner on your website? And of course if your thoughts are “no” then why not? Is the name not holy enough? Is your rep at stake? Are you afraid that pastor might wonder across your website,lol. To put it plain, is this a ministry that you wouldn’t mind being affiliated with?
My point is that in CHH many of you have stated that another reason some artist excel far past others is due to their affiliations. And that these affiliations tend to give off more of an aroma of Cliques. Clique: or “Click” is what happens when a door locks and no one may enter in or out. (Sorry my bad,lol) But seriously, for whatever reason the group, unit, or squad might have the ending is still the same – some are in and others are not. What we are trying to determine is, are the motives justified. Should others be kept at bay from our ministries in order to protect the name that has been established? Or do we duplicate what Jesus did and love on the unlovely? Now hear me, “Yes some people are crazy” and you might not only want to distance yourself from them, but grab a restraining order also. These people I’m not referring to. I’m referring to our brothers and sisters in Christ who because of theological and doctrinal differences have been shunned almost as outsiders. And it’s not entirely our fault because the church is part the blame also. I can’t help but recall a story that a good friend of mine (who shall remain unknown) told me about an invitation that he had to rap at a church. He said that the organizer stated that “The only reason I’m letting you come is because you’re affiliated with Cross Movement and we really don’t trust anyone else”. He was what some have coined as being “A-Philly-ated”. When thinking about the comment the organizer made, I think about the effectiveness of CrossMovement Records slogan. CrossMovement: “A trusted name in Christian hip hop”. The challenge is living up to that slogan in light of recent press surrounding its artist. CrossMovement Records has had to make some tough decisions in order to protect the brand of ministry that so many have come to enjoy over the years. As brothers and sisters in Christ we should pray that they continue to uphold that standard.
The organizers comment is just one out of many similar instances of where the Church is still very cautious regarding CHH, and rightly so with all the misinformation circulating. You have ministers debating over whether the term hip hop should be in the Church and just prefer that it be called Christian Rap. You have some confusing Holy hip hop with the Religion of hip hop (which are 2 totally different things). One is inspired by Christ and the other by KRS One. And to top it off, now that we’ve gained a little momentum we have hip hop pioneers like Rakim (who’s a 5 percenter ) throwing the term “Holy” in his hooks. To protect our names, should we admit some and deny others? And to what degree? You have cats that won’t get on a mix-tape with some, because the beat is a secular track insinuating that its “unclean” or “demonic”. Well… maybe it is or isn’t, but I’d warn anyone to be cautious of using too many secular tracks, because legally it can get real demonic. This is an example of a Christian emcee not wanting to be affiliated with a secular song or artist, but what about when it comes to another Christian artist and it’s his style or personality or doctrine that you don’t agree with? Remember the Mary Mary uproar when David Banner appeared on their release? They chose not to care about being seen or affiliated with David Banner which caused a lot of people in the church community, to not want to associate with them. Was this right or wrong? Labels are releasing public statements about no longer distributing artists due to inconsistencies in their ministries and personal lives, but why? Is the bar set too high? And if not, then why are these artists stumbling? Are these labels correct in the methods of discipline? What’s more important the fallen soldier or the organizations standard of righteousness thats been upheld over the years? Interesting…
Earlier I’d use the term “Brand” generously throughout this piece to emphasize something that someone or someone’s have worked on over the years and it has become so distinct that it has become “Branded”. A name, a reputation, a product, or service can all fit into this category and hopefully leave a positive impression in the minds of others. The business world pays hundreds of millions of dollars a year in order to create brand awareness, and brand recognition, leading to brand loyalty and will go to war in court to clear up any confusion surrounding their product or service. To them, their rep is that important and keeping from being affiliated with another like product is necessary. But remember, they do it for the sale and we do it for the soul. So is your camp, squad, or group really a Clique? Do you only associate with those who you think can benefit you in the long run? If your brother/sister in Christ fell would you choose to distance yourself from them or pick them up? Some may say it depends on the circumstances but did it seem so confusing to Christ? What was His example? This article isn’t just targeted towards a set of individuals, but rappers, labels, deejays and websites alike. All who would consider themselves to be part of the CHH community and ultimately the Body of Christ.
My point in using the comic book scenario in the intro’s is to reveal that there is a huge industry already influencing the countless souls that we are called to reach. And in the end, yes we do have the victory. But we give the enemy way too much firepower than is necessary by striving and bickering amongst ourselves. Jesus came to tear down walls of separation, but like little construction workers we are right back at work the next day reconstructing these very walls with are tools in hand. This shouldn’t be so. In writing this article its challenging to try and reflect “your” opinions without mine leaking out through the pen, so if you notice it every once and a while… my bad. I’m going to wrap it up and let you chime in.
So closing up this second article, we’ll check back in on our hero as the final piece of the puzzle is revealed. When he’s made aware of the final key ingredient which could loosen him to be victorious over the Mainstream giant… The Assets
Written by Shine