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Sho Baraka Responds To Music Being Pulled From LifeWay Christian Stores

Sho Baraka’s latest album “The Narrative” debuted in the top 10 on iTunes last fall and was once described with high praise on LifeWay Christian Bookstore’s product page as “saturated in a Gospel worldview.”  However, the retailer pulled his album last month after customers objected to the final track, “Piano Break, 33 A.D.” (a reference to Christ’s death), which includes the lyrics:

I was an insecure boy who just thought he was a genius But always pissed off, that’s because I thought with my penis It’s all strategic, I’m just asking us the reason Share my faith on the track, I’m just exorcising demons

Click the video below to hear the entire song in it’s full context:

It is important to mention that the reference in which the word used was not profane in any way, and was meant to reflect on his life prior to becoming a Christian.  The verse was simply reflecting on his past failures to live his life monogamously.  Sho Baraka explained saying,

“It wasn’t profane in context because it communicates how God has been good in my life, while acknowledging how wretched and evil I am.”

According to the Washington Post, LifeWay’s spokesman, Marty King confirmed the retailer’s decision by email with the following statement:  “Like any retailer, LifeWay has a responsibility not to carry resources with content our customers consider inappropriate.  After receiving complaints about some language in The Narrative cd, LifeWay decided to no longer carry it.”

LifeWay got into a similar controversy in 2012 when progressive book author Rachel Held Evans accused the retailer of not carrying her book over the use of the word “vagina.”

Baraka previously told the Washington Post that he believes the incident reflects a double standard when it comes to anatomical references in their books.  Other books sold on their shelves geared towards married couples include similar references also used in a nonprofane context, that fit the narrative of those books, just as his reference of the word also fit the narrative that he was presenting in his song and verse.

“Everyone on both sides wants to censor the person that doesn’t fit their narrative,” Baraka said. “The moment someone like me communicates something like this, who’s the one being censored now?”


Christian music has been in transition for a while.  For many artists, despite the fact that their music is clearly faith-based and driven by a Christian worldview, many Christian artists have still struggled with the decision of whether or not to label their music as “Christian”.  The reasons for this back and forth struggle differs from artist to artist.

In Sho Baraka’s most recent video response below, he shares his reasons for previously dealing with the same struggle of how to label his music and it’s content.  The content of Sho Baraka’s music is known for being unapologetically Christian, often conscious (or “woke”), and very socially aware.  He doesn’t shy away from speaking about everyday life issues such as love, marriage, faith, race, culture, and even politics.  Sho Baraka makes what we like to call Life Music – music that touches all aspects of life.  For him, this means talking about life as he knows it from his worldview as a man, a believer, an African American, a husband, a father, etc.

Frustrated with LifeWay’s choice, Baraka previously told the Washington Post that he believes the incident reflects a larger problem with American evangelicals.  Read more about his thoughts on that here.

Last night, Baraka released a second statement on Forth District (a media platform that he founded) where he talks about the need for continued transformation in the industry and how he believes it could help bring a solution to many of the frustrations that Christian artists (and some fans) are having within the industry as our culture and audience continues to change.

Sho Baraka emphasizes that he is not looking for confrontation through his music.  “I do not find joy in conflict,” says Baraka, “I find joy in conflict resolution.”

Watch Sho Baraka’s Most Recent Response Below:

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