Unashamed to rep God
By Patricia Hoskins
Hip-hop music has been blamed by the government and media as being a key factor for influencing violent youth culture in the UK. Christian rap artists are giving the genre of music a whole new influence.
116 Clique- Sho Baraka, Trip Lee, Lecrae, Tedashii
Rap, garage and grime music are constantly accused of being a major factor in gun and knife crime on our UK streets - because of some of the lyrics and images that glamorise guns, gangs and a get rich quick lifestyle.
Birmingham Christian rap artist Sammy G
However, urban Christian hip-hop/grime music that contains messages of hope, faith and the philosophy of turning the other cheek is emerging on a big scale as being an effective tool used to engage with young people, and be part of the solution to the escalating violence in our inner cities.
Birmingham artists Sammy G, Gap D and Hatman; to name but a few, are fast becoming household names on the UK's urban Christian hip-hop/grime music scene.
Unashamed in Birmingham
US Christian hip-hop collective known as 116 Clique (Romans 1:16) - who are huge on the urban gospel music scene, stopped off in Birmingham on the UK leg of their Unashamed Tour to take part in a youth conference and concert of the same name ‘Unashamed’. The all day event on Saturday 10th August, hosted by the Main Room at Birmingham Christian Centre, aimed to be a relevant way to reach young people and change lives through Christian music.
An interview with BBC WM's Nikki Tapper
Our BBC WM Gospel Show presenter Nikki Tapper caught up with 116 Clique artists Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii and Sho Baraka.
116 Clique with Nikki Tapper
With the US being the home of hip-hop and a country also tackling its own guns and gangs issues - Nikki asked the crew how they are able to mix their Christian beliefs with a genre of music continually accused of glamorising this culture.
Nikki Tapper – “ Main stream hip-hop has very negative connotations and most people feel that it’s an influence for gun and knife culture.
“Are you trying to draw away from the negativity with what you’re doing?”
Sho Baraka – “First of all, you can’t blame hip-hop for the behaviour of individuals and a society. There’s many things that contribute to that.
Tedashii - 116 Clique
"Hip-hop in itself is not the evil that we are fighting it’s the bad nature within individuals. We use hip hop to promote our Christian faith and biblical principles."
Nikki Tapper - "Why hip hop?"
Tedashii – “Hip hop is a very influential and relevant medium to go through. As far as our own personal lives - we were heavily influenced by hip hop before becoming Christians - but afterwards we still recognised how many people are influenced by it.
“We wanted to use something culturally relevant but put within it something that's biblically solid.”
Trip Lee - 116 Clique
Nikki Tapper - "How are the churches in the US responding to the way you use hip-hop music to put your message across?"
Lecrae - "Some churches have an issue with the whole hip-hop thing - I think it’s because a lot of them exalt their traditions and the way they have done things for the longest time over the main thing and that's the Christian gospel.
"However I think the response has been great from churches that aren’t caught up in the tradition and they see it as a great means for reaching their youth."
Nikki Tapper – "Would someone share how they became a committed Christian?"
Lecrae – "I didn’t grow up in a Christian home and I didn’t care anything about the Christian culture, I just thought it was all about grandmothers in long dresses and hats and screaming pastors. I didn’t want anything to do with that and I thought God didn’t want to have anything to do with me.
116 Clique - Lecrae
"It wasn’t until I saw some people who dressed like me, talked like me and walked like me, but yet they operated under a different moral code - it was a Christian biblical code and way of life. I was intrigued by that because they didn’t fit my view of what I thought Christianity was.
"I thought Christianity was just about a bunch of rules and regulations, do’s and don'ts, I didn’t realise they lived free and they were free to know God and free to live a life by his incredible grace – I wanted that so, I became a believer.”
Nikki Tapper - "Here in the UK we’ve had a high increase in young people losing their lives to gun and knife violence - I’m sure you’re having the same problems in the US - it’s as though a life means nothing to them.
"What’s your thoughts on why it’s become so prevalent and how would you address and encourage Birmingham's young people?"
Sho Boraka – "We live in a world that promotes retaliation - think about wars or governments who try to control and govern other nations, it’s the same kind of attitude.
Sho Baraka - 116 Clique
"That attitude is ‘I need to govern my circle of influence so if someone violates me I have the right to violate them back or I have the right to use whatever means to protect myself. That is the total opposite to principals of my Christian faith. If someone violates me I still love them I still bless them and turn the other cheek.
"You have to get to the core beliefs and personal thoughts of the individuals.
"The whole position that 116 Clique is trying to bring is that everything is about God and we should value life and show love to other people in-spite of them using you and treating you wrong.
"So we try to promote responding with love - not in a sense that we don’t want to protect ourselves but let’s respond with love and none violence."
Visit the 116 Clique official website to read more on how the artists express their faith through hip-hop and their passion for reaching young people through music…
Unashamed conference Birmingham
The Main Room presents - Unashamed tour Birmingham
US artists 116 Clique were at the Birmingham Christian Centre for an all day conference and concert on Saturday 9th August, hosted by the Main Room and supported by local artists. The event was part of their UK tour which also included sell out gigs in Manchester, London and Bath. The aim of the events was to empower both Christian and non-Christian young people through music.
Birmingham Christian Centre, Jonny Lee – Youth Pastor, says: “No one denies we need a change. A change can only come if people believe it and live it out. Both The Main Room and the 116 Clique are committed to loving and valuing all people and making a stand for what we believe is truth.
"I believe through events like these Great Britain can once again be proud of its younger generation; one built on respect, honour and purpose.”
Were you at the Unashamed concert in Birmingham? Add your concert reviews below and send us your photos and they will be added to the picture gallery. email: birmingham @bbc.co.uk.
See also: Who’s afraid of the hood?
What 's really happening on our streets? Has violent youth culture become an epidemic? Is knife crime spiralling out of control? The Drum brought together key players from Birmingham to thrash it out. Hear what they had to say.
last updated: 18/08/2008 at 19:22
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