Archive for September 2012

30 for 30

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I love music, but I'd still definitely classify myself as a "sports guy."

And like every other sports guy, I'm a sucker for a good sports documentary. In 2009, ESPN came out with a sports documentary series called, 30 for 30, which was to celebrate 30 great sports stories in the 30 years of ESPN's existence. To say they did a good job would be quite the understatement. 

Well, the 30 for 30 series is back, and this time they're also releasing "30 for 30 Shorts" to further excite sports fans. On Wednesday, the second instalment of the shorts was released, showcasing the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger. I must admit, I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first video of the series, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. I hope you do too.  

The video seems to be having issues embedding, so you can watch the video here!

Hip Hop Hooray

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The hip-hop scene is alive and well in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

G.O.O.D. music was in the building at the Garrick Centre last night as Big Sean stopped by to give us one heck of a rap show.

Big Sean's energy was contagious, which made for a hyped crowd and an awesome performance. As impressed as I was with the show Sean put on (considering  he's probably one of the least appealing members to me of the G.O.O.D. music ensemble), I was even more impressed with the crowd at the Garrick Centre.

The room was packed with true hip-hop fans, who were not only dancing and reciting the full lyrics of Big Sean's musical catalogue, but they were doing the very same to the playlist of rap classics the DJ was spinning an hour before the show.

As I watched what was going on around me, I was very encouraged with the state of hip-hop in Winnipeg. Lately, artists like Ludacris, Knaan, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, and the Weeknd have chosen to take their acts to Winnipeg, and it's great to see a big and excited crowd like last night's to show up and build the reputation of a respectable hip-hop community in our city.

With that being said, my realization of hip-hop's popularity in Winnipeg is especially encouraging to me as I'm here to announce my latest media venture: A hip-hop music show on Red River Radio!

The name and concrete concept are still up in the air, but basically every Sunday night from 7-9 starting September 30, I'll be spinning what I consider to be some good ol' quality hip-hop - streaming live on Red River Radio. So if you're interested in some great hip-hop and a little commentary from yours truly, you're going to want to make sure to tune in.

September 30,, 7-9pm, mark it on your calendar. You've been warned.

How about one of the highlights of the Big Sean show to play you out. Boiiii.

New God Flow - Part One


How would you define the hip-hop brand?

On the surface it seems easy. The hip-hop brand is about being tough and gangster. It's about being the best, and proving that you're the best. It's about getting the finest women, the nicest cars, and the most money possible. And above all else it's about bragging rights.

But is that really it? At one point in time, I think that could have summed up hip-hop quite nicely. But things are moving in a different direction. Sure, people are still going to rap about all of these things, but there's an alternative out there in hip-hop which allows more consciousness, diversity, and tolerance than ever before. There's a lot of negativity in hip-hop - especially in people's opinions about it. In the next few weeks I'd like to present the positive side of rap on the blog. This week's topic: God.

I know this may be absolutely shocking, but a lot of religious folk are not too found of rap music. There's a lot of cussing, violence, sexual references, and all sorts of other lifestyles that most religious people (not just Christians) wouldn't choose to live their lives by.

As a Christian, I believe we live in a broken world. We're all sinful people, and we all have our struggles and shortcomings when it comes to living a life pleasing to God. Every genre of music reflects this cold hard truth, whether it be in the lyrics, or the just the lifestyle of the artists. With other genres like rock, or country for example, these shortcomings are overlooked and explained away as part of the art. Rap music very rarely gets the benefit of the doubt. The unfortunate part is that while we are focused on getting angry at the violence, the sex, and the swearing, we miss the part where these rappers are seeking out and calling upon God in very obvious and intentional ways.

When we think about God in hip-hop, many of us think back to 2004 when Kanye West released one of his first hit singles, Jesus Walks. People can think what they want about the artist Kanye West has become, but the fact is this was an extremely bold move for a young and relatively unknown artist as Kanye was at the time.

The decision to openly express faith in a rap song to the degree Kanye did was unprecedented at the time, and the result was something nobody really could have seen coming. Not only was Jesus Walks arguably Kanye's break out hit, but it's also a certified Gold selling recording, and it was the song that gave Kanye his first Grammy for Best Rap Song. But more importantly, the song shares the message of a man desperately calling out to Jesus, and it has influenced many people who hear it to do the same. Whether it be at a night club, in the car, in your iPod, or in a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people, Kanye had millions of people across the world proclaiming, "Je-sus Walks."

Kanye wasn't done either, as in the same album he released the song Never Let Me Down with rap legend, Jay-Z. The majority of the song doesn't really talk about faith, but it's the spoken word at the end that has a clear faith based theme, and once again is done in a very bold and obvious way. With lines like, "But I get my hymns from Him, so it's not me, it's He that's lyrical. I'm not a miracle, I'm a heaven sent instrument."

Say what you want about Kanye West, but he may very well have been the artist to bridge the gap between rap and religion, paving the way for countless other artists to do the same. A good example is hip-hop group and Jimmy Fallon house band, The Roots, who often bring up faith and other "conscious" subjects in their music. A good example of this is their song Dear God 2.0 which is about a man trying to put faith in a loving God despite living a world filled with suffering - something many believers and unbelievers can relate to. Fittingly, the chorus calls out, "Dear God, I'm trying hard to reach you. Dear God, I see your face in all I do. Sometimes it's so hard to believe it, but God I know you have your reasons."

Hip-hop is changing. Rappers don't need to talk about the streets anymore. They can talk about God, love, heartbreak and not be considered "soft". Even a rapper like Lil Wayne can start his concert off by saying to a packed stadium, "I believe in God, do you?"

That being said, hip-hop is far from perfect. Many people take that imperfection and condemn the genre for it, mainly because for all of the shout-outs to God there are in hip-hop, very few rappers seem to match their lifestyle to their words...that is, until recently (but that's for part two).

In a recent song with Kanye West called New God Flow, rapper Pusha T proclaims, "I believe there's a God above me, but I'm the god of everything else." I think that kind of statement accurately portrays the root of people's disapproval of hip-hop. According to scripture, is it right for Pusha T to say that? Of course not. As a Christian, do I agree with that statement? Absolutely not. But when we put our lives to the microscope, are we much worse than Pusha? How much control do I take of my own life? Every Christian believe's there's a God above us , but when we really look at ourselves in the mirror, do we also act like the god of everything else? I think before we come down and condemn rap music and say it's all poison, maybe we can learn something from it. Maybe we can see the good in it, instead of focusing on the bad. Maybe we can take a look at our fellow broken brothers and sisters and figure out how we can get it right, before we tear them down for getting it wrong. What's the difference between us and rappers? Well, we all fall short of God's expectations of us, but maybe rappers are just being more honest.

More Than Rap

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I've always had a love for hip-hop. I love everything about it. I love the style, the production, the lyrics, the rhythm, and the culture that surrounds it. It's to the point where it's not just about listening to the music anymore, but it's actually become subject of study.

As a white, Christian, male from the suburbs, people don't quite know what to think about my unorthodox passion. I have people shake their heads at me while saying something like, "You know you're white, right?" There are people who just politely nod their heads and pretend to enjoy the music playing in the background of my car. But sometimes there are people who are genuinely interested in my ramblings, and want to know more about this crazy thing we call hip-hop. I guess I'm writing this in the hopes that those people actually exist an are not a figment of my imagination.

The world of hip-hop is changing. Rappers don't need to say something controversial just to get noticed in the mainstream. Their music doesn't need to shock people anymore. No longer can you only listen to hip-hop if you can relate to NWA's Straight Outta Compton. Rappers no longer make headlines because they were involved in the lastest club shooting, but they're in the headlines for winning awards, starring in movies, and getting a shout-out from the President during a show.

Is rap perfect? Nope. There is still intolerance towards certain people and ideas, there is still the glorifying of violence and misogyny in some of the lyrics, and there's still just a lot of bad hip-hop out there. But every genre of music has it's own set of problems, and the encouraging thing is that there is now diversity in the world of hip-hop to a degree we've absolutely never seen before.

In the next few weeks, I'm going to be touching on these changes here on the blog. I may not change your minds on hip-hop, but I hope to at least unscrunch the look on your face when I tell you that about 80 percent of the music on my ipod is some form of rap or R&B.

I'll leave you with a song off a rapper named Lecrae's newest album, Gravity, which dropped earlier this week. This song is performed with up-and-coming mainstream rap star Big K.R.I.T, who lends his talents for a verse on the track. Do you notice anything different about this song? Hmm...