Sam Sneed: Christian Rappers Are Not Gangstas
Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You remember Sam Sneed, right? Of course you do. He was the guest in last week's Ask A Rapper segment. In the days following his feature, we received a noteworthy amount of emails. Some were positive, mostly talking about inspiration and the Lord and whatnot. Some were negative, mostly talking about how they didn't agree with one or more of his viewpoints. But they were almost all thought out and intelligent responses, which can be pretty hard rowing around here. We figured that since the Artist of the Week familia has this guy, these guys, this girl and these guys, our stables could use a bit of spiritual cleansing, so we linked back up with Sneed to talk about a few more things. Hit the jump to see if he loves Jesus more than the other church rapper we know, if there's a church rap version of 50 Cent and whether or not God will give Z-Ro a pass on all of the horrible things he's done in his life on account of how hard he reps for His Holiness.
Rocks Off: We've had a few Christian rappers on here before. Matter of fact, the interview with Soulbrotha remains to be one of AAR's most well received. He was very insightful. And you seem to have that same sort of grand world view thing going on. So here's the question: Which one of you two loves Jesus more? Sam Sneed: This is a very well posed question; as for the answer, I know how much I love Jesus*, as for Soulbrotha, he knows how much he loves Jesus. As for who loves Jesus more can only be answered by our actions of obeying his commandments**. *John 14:15: "If you love Me, keep my commandments." **John 14:21: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." RO: You know what we're curious about? There is clearly a very big Christian-rapper community. Does y'all's sect operate the same way that the typical rap world operates? Like, are their tiffs and beefs and whatnot? Is there a church version of 50 Cent running around stirring shit up? SS: In my humble opinion, the Christian rap community does not operate and function as the secular rap world does, because we are commissioned to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are instructed in Romans 12:2* to do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. However, since no one is perfect** and we all have fallen short of the glory of God, sometimes their can be competition and minor tiffs among gospel rappers. There has been some conflicts between gospel artists. *Romans 12:2: "And be not conformed to this world: But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." **Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." RO: Also, are there different segments of church rap? For example, is there a church rap cohort that would parallel the gangster-rap genre (they'd probably mostly rap about the crucifixion and whatnot)? Or a group of church rappers that could parallel emo rappers like Kid Cudi (they'd probably rap mostly about how their sinful ways have got them down and out)? SS: There are so many different styles within the gospel-rap community that combat the secular rap styles. I will list a few: Sho Baraka, Flame (parallel to gangster rap genre); KJ-52 (parallel to Eminem); Lacrae, Da Truth (parallel to K.R.S.-One); The Ambassador, Phanatik (parallel to Kid Cudi); myself (parallel to Mos Def). There are so many others too many to name them all.
RO: Here's one for you. You know Z-Ro, right? He's very thugged-out. In a bunch of his songs he talks about getting high or shooting people or sleeping with various women. However, at the same time, he has songs like "True Hero Under God" or "I Don't Give A Damn," where he states matter of factly, "I need Christ, that's the only thing I know." How does that work? Can you have that type of selective relationship with the tenets of religion and still be on good terms with His Holiness? Or is it an all or nothing type of thing? SS: Yeah, I know of Z-Ro and I know of his music. Many people don't understand how great and merciful the Almighty God is. He rains on the just (righteous) as well as the unjust (the unsaved); Matthew 5:45*. Many people take advantage of God's unfailing mercy and try to use God as their own person genie. With Z-Ro and other artists, [they] know of God, but may not have a close personal relationship with God. They know that God does exist and is real, and they figure that as long as they acknowledge him in there songs, that it justifies what they are doing. Another example is R. Kelly. It seems he acknowledges God with songs like "He Saved Me" when he gets in trouble or is in the media spotlight. But when the media, scrutiny and speculations fades, its back to sexually explicit bump n' grind lyrics. Artists like this acknowledge God when it is convenient for them. On the other hand, God created man with the need to look up and worship something higher than himself. God is a higher power that constantly tries to get people to come to Jesus. When artists such as Z-Ro, DMX, R. Kelly and other artists actually write songs using his name in them, it also proves that God The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance**. So when they write these songs it may be God is working on their heart to come unto his son Jesus. *Matthew 5:45, That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. **2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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