Greetings and blessings, fam.
Tony “Keynote” Sebro from JahRock’n Productions, here. As background, I’ve been collaborating with JahRock’n since 2005, and I got my first piece of production equipment–a now-ancient Yamaha DSR-1000–back in 1990. I’m also a lawyer by trade, which helps because my fellow JahRock’n producers are constantly getting brought up on charges for straight murderin’ tracks. 😉
Anyway, I was chatting with an older friend of mine the other day, and he was lamenting the decline of musical innovation in gospel music over the past ten to fifteen years. Now, some of this is generational, to be sure: everybody thinks that “their” music was hotter than the current stuff being put out today.
But my man made an interesting point. He noted how, back in the day, the Church as a spiritual and cultural institution was the training ground for the musicians who went on to create popular music. He contended that jazz, blues, rock, soul, and funk were all built on a foundation of sacred music–built by brothers and sisters who honed and developed their chops in the Church. The Church was where the hot vocalists learned their runs, where the dope keyboardists learned to play by ear, and where bands learned to improvise on the fly to support wherever the Spirit was leading the music. As a result, the craziest, most innovative musicians were in the Church, and they were the ones setting the musical trends.
Now, as musical styles have changed and developed over the years, can we still claim that the Christian community is at the leading edge of music? If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that many of us are taking our cues from the mainstream. Artists want tracks that “sound like” so-and-so, and producers try to dissect and replicate that Timbo or that Polow Tha Don sound. Our labels are fine with marketing artists as “Christian alternatives” to more popular secular acts.
It’s natural to recognize and be influenced by dope music. But, we can’t stop there. So, from this corner of cyberspace, I want to challenge all of us that create music to take back our position as leaders. As the taste-makers. God isn’t calling us to reflect what’s out there, but to change it. To me, that goes beyond the lyrics. I don’t want our music to sound like Kanye’s, or 9th Wonder’s, no disrespect. I want it to be better. I want to be doper. More interesting. More daring. I want Kanye to want to sound like me.
‘Cause frankly, the “stakes is higher” when your faith is involved.
As long as we’re settling for merely being the “Christian version” of what other artists have already done, then we’re not truly repping the gospel tradition. Family, let’s lift up that standard.
Anyway, I’ll follow Rock’s lead and throw up a track for your previewing pleasure. Lemme know what you think. FIW=Feedback Is Welcome.
‘Til next time, keep makin’ the trees clap. Isa. 55:12.
-Tony “Keynote” Sebro