Rap, Art, and God
Artist, rapper and poet Propaganda finds God in art.
Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection
- Besides rap, what are some other unlikely places to discover God?
- How might excellence in art point to a higher power?
This might be your first introduction to me. Greetings, my name is Propaganda. I wrote my first rap in '93. Simply put, fire-baptized battle rapper who was heavily influenced by folk music and found creative freedom in poetry. I don't know that much, just the Gospel and good hip-hop. I'm a pretty simple dude. All I have is my all, and I promise to give you that. I grew up around a whole lot of gang life, infidelity, just drugs, alcohol. I grew up around a lot of that, and it just turned me off. It just totally turned me off. Art. That was my saving grace. It kept me away from so many other things, and God used that to introduce me to himself. I'm working on my next record. It's called "Excellent" and it came out of a, uh, Robert Henri quote, a Renaissance painter. It says the presence of good art will unconsciously refine a community, and poor art will do it incalculable harm. And it, like, hit me so much so like, I got it, I got it tattooed, like it's on my arm. It's broken up like, I broke it up so there's breaks in between because it's long. Those are the two that we'll record today. The crux of the album basically is pointing at our duty to present ourselves as excellent as possible, to, to, to keep that standard high, to do its best for all of us. But then the other half of the record or the other side of the coin is that I don't measure up. I'm not reaching that bar. I'm not doing that, and that sings of our, our need for a savior. One song I've kind of been thinking on is called "Forgive me for Asking." It's a pretty heavy spoken word piece. "I ain't never came perfect, just know what my worth is. I ain't never claimed perfect..." I have personally asked a lot of questions about whether I believe what I'm preaching, whether I believe what I proclaim to believe. I've asked those a lot, you know. "Like the little you know about our universe, you ready to draw conclusions about its origins. Maybe we don't know as much as we think we do. Science still can't explain yawning. Forgive me for asking." There are things that I feel like are still question marks, um, in, even in my life now that I'm like, you know, you know what, I don't know. I know that God is real. I know that he died for my sins. I know that there is an answer; I just know I don't have it. I feel like that's art's role in society, to ask questions. I believe in art for art's sake. It's function is the display of beauty. It's beautiful because it screams of our designer. What art does and what music does is it reminds us that there is more in the universe than the material, that our existence is not just what you can measure. It reminds us that there are things that transcend the physical world. It reminds us that there is something more than what we can touch, and in that sense, uh, I believe it, it, it, it sings of, of the beauty and the, and the splendor of God or at, at least an intelligent designer. "Yeah. Listen, I came out a town in gangs and a gang of grace because for sure sin abounds and around these parts, crowns is made of tin foil. And them boys play Halo with real guns, lay low. Right there, I blang slang. That twice born rhetoric. Our Papi pound the ground and out came all humanity. But for those who would listen, I break you out your radio prison, redefine manhood, blackness, and time. Shape and define culture. Let me fashion you some shades, introduce you to a trend that transcends the will of men. Lord." The ultimate hope for people that hear my music is that they would meet a loving God who provided a way to redeem their souls through his son. That would be the ultimate.