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“What’s Beef?”: Disagreements In CHH (Opinion Piece)

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are that of the writer and do not reflect the views of ArtSoul Radio.

“What’s beef?  Beef is when you need 2 Gats to go to sleep Beef is when your moms ain’t safe up in the streets Beef is when I see you Guaranteed to be in ICU”

Let’s be clear, the Notorious B.I.G adequately explained what beef is/was and the foolishness currently going on in the tiny pond that is CHH is more like tofu.  Recently, legendary theology lyricist Shai Linne released what many speculate as a “diss”record entitled Random Thoughts 3.  Shai is no stranger to controversy

How Did This Happen?

I suppose it’s best to start from the beginning of this ongoing topic.  After much success at churches, youth and evangelical conferences, Lecrae decided to make a shift in not only his music but his targeted demographic.  In 2012 he began working with “secular” artists and producers, releasing his first Church Clothes mixtape with DJ Don Cannon and his Grammy winning LP Gravity which featured Big K.R.I.T.  It was around this time that Lecrae began to say things like “I don’t want to be put into a box” or “I’m not a fan of labels” and most debated of all, “I’m a rapper that’s a Christian, not a Christian rapper.”

From here things began to spiral out of control.  Fans and artists alike were up in arms.  Many couldn’t understand his views and were appalled that he would begin to work and create relationships with artists that didn’t ascribe to his beliefs.  Some felt abandoned, while others were perfectly fine with this change.  While making TV and/or radio appearances Lecrae began to be more broad and general in his statements about his faith.  Though not totally ashamed, it wasn’t the usual 1-1-6 Lecrae we all had grown to love and appreciate.

The Current Climate

Fast forward to 2017 and many up and coming artists see the success Lecrae has had and they want to follow in his footsteps.  More and more rappers are shying away from the Christian title and making music that is not solely about Christ.  Much of the music coming from rappers for Jesus today is ambiguous and vague.  Artists want to create songs that will appeal to the masses and this doesn’t sit well with the forefathers of CHH, Shai Linne being one of them.  So Shai decided to release Random Thoughts 3, which in turn caused Ruslan to respond in Random Thoughts 4, which triggered a comeback from Shai Linne label mates Hazakim entitled Spare the Rod, which will cau

I, unfortunately, didn’t make it to this year’s Legacy conference, but from calls, texts and social media posts I can tell things were somewhat tense.  Everyone was talking about this latest “beef” and I’m in utter disbelief.  At a conference where the focus should be on becoming better disciples of the gospel, held in a city that is known in Africa for two things, Michael Jordan and guns, how is the main topic of discussion in the lunchroom diss records?  I live in Chicago and babies are dying on the streets my family walk by daily.  My wife was recently laid off and money is a little tight.  I’m turning 30 in less than 7 weeks.  My check engine light is on right now.  I’m trying to live a life that’s most impactful to my sphere of influence and see as much of the world as I can before I leave this place.  I’ve got enough to deal with.  I don’t have the time to count how many times an artist said Jesus on a track or if he took out the time to explain the gospel on Sway in the Morning.

Moving Forward

We’ve created an idol out of a genre of music and when people don’t bow down to it we throw them in the fiery furnace.  All sides had a role to play and repentance is needed on all fronts for self-righteousness, lack of humility, jealousy, envy, and I’m sure the list could go on.  If you don’t like what Lecrae is doing with his platform, build your own and scream Jesus until your face turns blue.  Or, instead of spending so much time and energy combating what Lecrae is doing, why not champion the artists that are doing what you like.  If you want to hear more gospel centered music, show support to Bizzle, Flame, Da Truth, KB and others more.  If you’re a pioneer in CHH and you’re concerned with where it’s headed, pour into the artists that are coming up.  I’ll assume that not many, if any, of the rappers from the new generation have received advice or guidance from the forefathers of CHH.  It appears that the legends only come out to negatively speak on what they don’t like.  On the flip side, if you want to operate in musical freedom, do that but don’t demonize the church.  Don’t look down from your hip-hop high horse at the artists you once called peers or the ones operating in the space you helped create. There is nothing corny about rapping for Jesus or pointing people to the only source of hope and salvation.  It is corny, however, to not take the art form of rap seriously and feeling content with being a wack emcee, but there are a slew of rappers outside of the body of Christ that fit that mold.

CHH, like mainstream hip-hop, is overflowing with some talented artists and some not-so-talented artists.  Rappers should make the music that authentically represents them and their beliefs and listeners should support what they like, period.  As Christians, we should certainly hold each other accountable for our actions and our words, but this debate over preferences has to stop.  There is plenty of space and opportunity for everyone to operate in their lane and their calling.  If you’ve got time to examine interviews, dissect rap lyrics and debate over social media, one might wonder when you have the time to make a difference in someone’s life.  Listen; too much is at stake for us to argue amongst ourselves about something so trivial.  Like Shai said, “On top of all that, Donald Trump’s the president.”

Listen to Shai Linne’s Random Thoughts 4 here:

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Listen to Ruslan’s Random Thoughts 4 here:

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