Should Christians collaborate with secular artists? The 116 Life Ep. 3

After examining that state of Christian hip hop and debunking the CHH is dead claim; Marcus and Ace look to the future of the genre in this episode.  One of the most pressing issues currently impacting the community; the sacred secular divide.  Should Christian artists collaborate with secular artists? 

It’s no secret that the entertainment industry is full of temptations and things that appeal to the flesh but are in direct contradiction to the word.  How does one navigate that space while maintaining the faith?  Better still, is it possible to evangelize in that space?  In this episode Marcus and Ace explore the complexity of being in the “entertainment” space as a believer.

First off, let’s define what is Christian from an art standpoint?  “When you start to say what makes something Christian by default you kind of saying what is not Christian.  And there’s another question you can step back and ask, to what end do these things matter?”  Marcus kicks off the conversation asking some tough questions.  “Should people who are explicit about their faith, should they work with people who are not?  Or secular?”  

“For some reason the expectation is that we have to be, we have to hunker down in this defined boundary, black and white answer to that question.  I don’t think the question is black and white.  I think it’s nuanced.”  Ace explains.

But how does grace factor into the conversation.  How does context impact the conversation.  “The question itself assumes…it’s coming from a place of we’ve arrived and what we’re doing is good.  When really historically the words Christian and hip hop were antagonistic against each other.  They weren’t even synonymous.”  Ace explains how hip hop was initially rejected by the church. 

“…the act of putting Christianity and hip hop together is a secular act.”  Marcus chimes in, further detailing how CHH has been critiqued by the church. 

Should Christians collaborate with secular artists?  Ep. 3 of The 116 Life!
Marcus Hollinger and Ace Harris, Reach Records

Ace shares his personal experience with music; how he transitioned from “secular” hip hop, quitting “cold turkey” after becoming saved and focusing on producing in the CHH space.  When he was offered to produce in the secular arena again, but this time as a Christian, he opens up about the inner turmoil he faced.   “I had to wrestle…in a way I felt led to reengage…I reengaged it from a different perspective….I was in rooms with T.I., Niki Minaj  as a Christian producing content you can’t argue [was not Christian content]…but I was also in rooms in L.A.  and pulling writers and producers aside praying with them; sharing scripture.”

Chief Marketing Officer of Reach Records Marcus Hollinger shares how he navigates the secular entertainment industry as a Christian
Chief Marketing Officer Marcus Hollinger

Citing 1 Timothy 1:5, the aim of our charge is love that issues from a clear conscious a sincere heart and a pure faith; Marcus shares how he navigates making the tough choices that come with being a Christian. “One place I can start is with my conscious. Am I violating my conscious by doing this?  What are my motives?  Is this an act of faith?  Am I somehow committing the decision to God to be the ultimate arbiter, who’s going to do something with this decision?”

Ace Harris of Reach Records talks Christians artists collaborating with secular artists and how to be in the world and not of the world.
SVP of A & R Ace Harris

When it comes to temptation, Ace relates being in entertainment with the story of Joseph.  “He like literally makes his way up to I believe the number two position in the most powerful worldly kingdom at the time.  Egypt.  And he’s working in a worldly system as the number two.  But he’s faithful to the Lord….How are you allowed to be one of Gods chosen representatives and you’re working in a place where nobody’s rocks with your world view? But you’re so good at what you do in your craft that you have been elevated and promoted.  How do you maintain a sense of faith?  A sense of righteousness and what does that look like?”

We have to be in the world but not of it.  Ace expounds, “How are you living in a way so unashamedly that the world wants to sit next to you?  And you, by sitting in proximity can change they way the see the world.” 

Tune in every Tuesday at 8 pm est. to The 116 Life on Holy Culture Radio Sirius XM Channel 154 and don’t forget to us on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter to join the conversation!