Hip hop is immature.
There, I said it. I mean, on one hand, what can you expect from an art form that’s a little over 30 years old? But still, sometimes I just want to scream at my TV (the BET awards are on as I type this) and yell “lose the doo rag, pick up your pants and grow up!” Hip hop in the Christian scene has a lot of the same issues. It’s got much of the same braggadocio, the same ghetto-mindsets, and the same rebellion against any and every authority figure. Now granted, I’m oversimplifying with my broad critique of rap music. There’s nothing wrong with emcee confidence, and a genre born out of a legitimately oppressed region like the 1970’s south Bronx is going to have reason to dislike “the Man. “ But it still bothers me when I compare a lot of what I see in hip hoppers and contrast it with how the Bible shows we should look at authority. This sounds like a rant and well…that’s because it is. But I’m going somewhere. Enter Lamp Mode’s “The Church: Called and Collected”
In the church (and this is in no way an isolated critique on hip hop), a lot of the urban types have issues regarding the role of the church as God’s model for community, leadership, and true fellowship. Lamp Mode Recordings saw the need for clarity in our scene, along with the Body as a whole, and released a compilation album giving solid biblical direction for God’s plan for the church and how our response should be. On a theological angle, it is absolutely fantastic. From beginning to end, a near air-tight defense of and encouragement to the church is given.
A particular standout is Stephen the Levite’s “Membership.” The song cuts to the heart of some of the issues and fears Christians have with uniting with the Body, and how the church reflected properly demolishes our apprehension. It’s a stern rebuke, but totally needed. Not to mention, Stephen lyrically destroys the track from start to finish.
“Playing the church like the girl that you date then/you criticize her like you’re Seinfeld (or Satan!)/You sit in the back making your accusations/But you aint willing to aid in her sanctification!”
Instrumentally, the album tends to stay within the boom-bap, low-key sound found in a lot of Lamp Mode projects. Songs like the intro track “Take ‘em to Church” by God’s Servant and Hazakim’s “Evangelism” lay down some dope, soulful samples behind their rhymes. Artists like Trip Lee offer some nice artistic variation for the less nerdy rap fans that may come across this album.
Outside of Membership, and perhaps Evangel’s outro “Beautiful Church”, the other tracks on the project don’t particularly wow me. Tedashii’s “Discipleship” seemed stuck in mid 2000’s southern rap sensibilities, and doesn’t have particularly creative emceeing either. However, almost everything included on the compilation is solid.
All in all, due to the strong artistry and potentially life-changing message for believers, I’d recommend “The Church” to anyone looking to expand their knowledge. I plan on passing this along to a few friends that have given up on their local church. I know I was personally moved to pursue a healthier relationship with my assembly. Definitely a solid buy for anyo–…great, another BET rapper thanked His Lord and Savior. Hip hop needs to grow up.
Music: 7 of 10
Flow / Delivery: 6 of 10
Lyricism: 9 of 10
Content: 9 of 10
Creativity / Originality / Relevancy: 8 of 10
Credibility / Confidence: 8 of 10
Personality / Character: 8 of 10
Presentation Quality: 8 of 10
Overall Production Quality: 7 of 10
Potential Impact: 10 of 10