Rocks Off was only 13 years old in October 1992 when singer Sinéad O'Connor sang an a cappella version of Bob Marley's "War" on Saturday Night Live and, on cue, tore an image of Pope John Paul II into pieces while singing the word "evil."
"Fight the real enemy," she exclaimed at the end of one of live TV's most shocking moments. The gesture was labeled as sacrilegious, and what got lost was O'Conner's intent to bring attention to the overwhelming number of sexual-abuse claims inside the Catholic church and all over the world. And that's probably because her gesture was so over the top and bold that the message got vaporized in the firebolts of controversy.
That was our first real introduction to music's sometimes contentious crossing with religion.
Drake's new video for "HYFR" and all its "hell yeah, fucking rights" inside a Jewish synagogue in Miami hasn't sparked that much controversy and probably never will, but give it a few days, or never say never. O'Connor and Drake's religious contexts are apples and oranges.
Hers was a political and very public expression on national live television when broadcast programming was an uncontended focal point. Drake's is a video dropped in sea of infinite media and was intended to pay homage to his Jewish roots, not criticize them.
But what folks might take issue with is that he did that by essentially celebrating the elements of today's traditional hip-hop video -- you know, the stuff our religious leaders warn us will send us to hell: Sexual courtship of women, heavy partying and cursing, careless consumption of alcohol, with Jewish worship and symbolism as a backdrop. But a valid point can be made that those things take place with or without a rap video.
The point is that, in music, whether religion is the target or a means to elevate the music's message, can always make for fun dialogue or heated debate, and Drake's latest video may inspire both.
In hip-hop, places of worship have been used in many respects. Sometimes outright as the centerpiece and sometimes as an important moment in the song. So in honor of Drake's bold and potentially controversial video, we count down "Rap's Best Videos Set In Places of Worship."
Does a surprising hip-hop figure take two of the top six spots? Hell yeah, fucking right.
6. MC Hammer, "Pray": "We got to pray just to make it today." Still holds true today.
5. Geto Boys, "6 Feet Deep": Set at a wake, while this isn't in an actual church, it is certainly an extension of a place of worship. In a viewing, religious pastors often take the lead in addressing the life of the deceased.
4. Bubba Sparxx - "Deliverance": Yes, a lake or a stream, where a rebirth occurs, can be a place of worship.
3. Kanye West, "Jesus Walks": The title of the song says it all.
2. Bubba Sparxx, "Ms. New Booty"
A church where women are given a box of "New Booty." Makes you want to yell, "There's a God some-where."
Drum roll, please...
1. UGK, "I Choose You": R.I.P. Pimp C.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.