Pop Culture, Theory & Essay

The Curious Case of “Amen”

And no, we’re not talking about Sherman Helmsley, smokin’ that “boat”, or Dee.

We’re talking about Meek Mill and Drake’s perplexing homage to, well, the same thing they talk about on every other song they write and record – f*cking, living the good life, and being swagged out – entitled “Amen”.

But first, let me say, lord forgive them, they got them dark forces in them.

Amen.

This song perplexes me so much I’ve spent literal hours going back and forth with myself on how I should feel versus how I do feel. Let’s start with the basics, this is only an issue because the beat to this song is so insanely infectious and dope. The producer took us to church with it. On purpose. It’s like that bridge between secular and gospel rap that 100 percent of all gospel rappers have been looking for but couldn’t find. Real talk, put DMX or some other rapper conflicted about his spirituality and likes to talk about it over that beat and you might have your first respectable gospel rap song. Hell, you could even title it “Amen” and it would work perfectly.

More hell, you could have taken the ENTIRE verses spit by Meek and Drake, turned them towards a religious bent and had a significantly dope gospel rap record. I truly believe this. The vast majority of us, whether currently believers, atheists, agnostics, or what have you, began in the church and can immediately identify with that piano riff. If you’re grandmother is Baptist or Pentecostal, she likely crip-walked to it this past Sunday. Meek knew this, probably because he also is insanely familiar with it, immediately heard the beat and knew exactly where to take it…to church.

NEVERMIND THAT HE STARTED IT WITH AN IGNANT NINJA PRAYER!!

So what we get is a 4-minute long sacreligious ode to ignorance that is intentionally geared to play up to our religious histories in a way that would ensure that we’d all need to go to church on Sunday JUST to repent for dancing to it in the club the night before. The hook is a PERFECT call-and-response execution. Meek and Drake are both dope on it…if only they weren’t sending me to hell every time I listened to it. Which, obviously, is the conundrum. In many ways, I feel like they went too damn far. But I’ll admit it’s only because I’m Black and I hold church (even though I rarely, if ever, go) sacred. Which is mostly because despite my imperfect church record (no pun) over the past umpteen years, I’m still god-fearing and recognize blasphemy when I hear it. I believe in being struck by lightning, for heaven’s sake!

Which presents a whole OTHER problem. Ladies, I have issues. For some reason I’m more conflicted about this than about the rampant exploitation I hear in the record. I kind of just want them to change the title and stop saying “amen” and “church”. I know, and I’m working on this. There’s really no defense for it. Though I’ve mostly stopped listening to 90 percent of the “ignorant” stuff. My daughter has COMPLETELY trumped all of my music choices nowadays. Believe it or not (and this might sound ironic) but I pretty much only listen to pop music stations when she’s not with me and gospel when she is. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Annnnnnyway.

Back to just wanting them to change the title and hook. Sure the beat is churchy, but I could live with that as just being creative. Besides, more rappers than you may realize have straight jacked gospel for samples. Shoot, early soul and blues owes its entire lineage to gospel. So gospel tinged secular music isn’t exactly new or troubling. This just feels different.

I hear it and I want to dance, but yelling “amen” after their lines using the terms “b*tches, kill n*ggas, etc” just seems inherently wrong. Perhaps I read too much or have mostly grown up (again, I’m apparently okay with the exploitation and misogyny present…help me) but I wonder why NOBODY thought there would be anything wrong with this record. Granted, its creative as a mug and of course entertaining. Meek does entertaining records and the boy can rap. I’m fairly certain his album would be terrible but his singles are monsters (I’m not sure I could listen to him yell at me for a whole hour…I’m grown, stop that).

Back to the lecture at hand, the record…befuddles me. I’m fairly certain that I shouldn’t like it, but deep down, I do. Because it’s a good record. I just want them to stop being so blasphemous. And I’m not even sure they are. I’m nowhere near the level of ole boy out of Philly, the pastor who found it to be outwardly just damn wrong. But in some small way, I get his point. For the first time ever, d-boys everywhere will be yelling “amen” and “church” ad nauseum and it will be for all of the wrong reasons. Which brings up something else: I know that I’ve DEFINITELY used lots of church references in my everyday speech and things I’ve written that could very well be considered sacrilege. So perhaps there’s a little bit of pot-calling-the-kettle-black here. And perhaps I should reconsider my own choices.

But perhaps, I’ll probably not do that either. And I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.

Amen.

Church?

(Couldn’t help myself.)

So good folks, what do you think about the record (video included uptop)? Is anybody else conflicted by this song? Does this record go to far in its sacrelige? Does it even go to far? Does it even matter?

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. TAKE ‘EM TO CHURCH aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Don’t forget about the upcoming panel hosted by VSB P and Raheil T of Urban Cusp in conjunction with the Washington Post on July 26, 2012, from 6-8pm at the WaPo Building. It should be a great interactive conversation about relationships between all of us! Group participation, ninjas! See you there!

Filed Under: , ,

Quantumlinx | Chava Energy | Weighpack Systems

Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. He believes the children are our future and is waiting to find out if he is the 2nd most interesting man in the world.

  • SweetSass

    First? Church!

    • https://twitter.com/mcnairian5 fiveisthenumber

      Perhaps this is a suitable alternative: http://youtu.be/iZKfoVa0jkg

      • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

        Can I say that beat knocks? If I wasn’t trending so hard away from Abrahamic sprituality, I’d bump this like crazy., :)

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        that joint is alright. never heard of KB, but everybody I know who’s trying to save my soul has attempted to get me into Lecrae. dude’s cool in my book.

        • https://twitter.com/mcnairian5 fiveisthenumber

          Word. I cut for Lecrae.

  • http://www.iamyourpeople.com I Am Your People

    This is basically every BET Awards.

    Rapper: “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, for blessing and inspiring me”

    Everyone at home: Your album was called “I f*ck h0es, but I don’t love ‘em”

    So yeah, they just cut out the middle man

    • SweetSass

      Except they don’t mention their Lord is Satan… And the Illuminati, or whatever.

      • Yale GENT

        Please sont start that silly Illuminati mess in here. Uneducated negroes talking about things that they have no idea about.

      • legs

        black people need to stop talking about illuminati. maybe if y’all actually picked up a book on it from real writers you’d realise that if it does exist, a bunch of rappers will not be in it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RandGAreZombies?ref=hl The Other Jerome

      Church!

    • prissychrissy

      Right. This song is just more blatant than what we are all used to.

      • https://twitter.com/mcnairian5 fiveisthenumber

        This song is symbolic of the Black Man’s Burden: The unholy intertwining of the spiritual and the carnal. May the producers burn in hell for making me groove to such ignorance, as the production is on point.

        *presses play one mo ‘gin*

        • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

          I get your point, but within Black popular music, for lack of a better term, there’s always been a thin line between the church and the secular, and both forms have borrowed freely from each other. I don’t know how you police that line, or if policing that line would actually be a good thing.

        • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

          Ya, this is going to be on my “hype man” playlist. Can’t deny the beat.

          • Lizabit

            This attack makes the church look insecure. Christians drive to church playing all kinds of gospel, and leave playing rick ross or whoever. So lets not make this song about sacrilige, but about finding a better way to relay the gospel to the masses.

            • dabigpodina

              If they would have used islamic sayings they would be dead or hunted. I would slap the shot out of them if I heard this and they were standing there.

        • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

          its the musical double consciousness of the negro, eh? lol

    • http://www.sepiasenses.tumblr.com Petitekayee

      That’s real talk!

    • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

      EXACTLY. This song is just the musical version of a rapper’s awards speech.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        i like speeches.

        • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

          Good. I’m planning to have an epic one. :)

          • http://uphereoncloud9.wordpress.com Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

            Sold out seats to hear Cheekie Smalls speak…

            • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

              \(^_^)/

  • Justmetheguy

    As much as I like to make Aubrey jokes, I’d have to become a fan if he consistently made tracks like this. (Even though I like Meek better and this feels like his song). I agree though, the beat alone makes this one of my favorite songs out right now and maybe my favorite Drake song period. As far as the church aspect. Even though I’m agnostic I did recognize that this record was pretty disrespectful…so I won’t sing it in front of my mama…(shrugs) I don’t know why you ninjas r surprised, it’s just the Illuminati gettin more bold and sh*t lol

    • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

      I don’t know why you ninjas r surprised, it’s just the Illuminati gettin more bold and sh*t lol

      It would be better if it was this rather than what it REALLY is. It’s just more of the same hypocrisy that Christian entertainers and athletes always display. Thanking God for careers that are built on expressing lifestyles that are BLATANTLY diametrically opposed to what that same God is supposedly about. And athletes thanking God for allowing them to win a f*cking child’s game… A GAME that they’re paid millions to play, while there are millions of ACTUAL CHILDREN starving all around the world. Disgusting…faux Christians I mean, not the song. The song is dope. Even the Bible says that its better to be “cold” than “lukewarm”. If they actually WERE devil worshipping Illuminati then at least they would be AUTHENTIC.

      • SweetSass

        * Throws some $1s in your collection plate *

        Yasssss to alladis!

      • Meisarebel

        Meh… Don’t know if I agree on the whole faux Christian thing in regards to athletes. Unless those two points were disconnected.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

          My point is that unless you are REALLY living what you claim to believe than you’re a hypocrite and I laugh at these guys with their itty bitty homages to their Gods when their ACTUAL LIVES are lived in DIRECT opposition to what their God stands for… and it’s always been that way. Kanye with Jesus Walks is just as bad as this if not worse. At least this is tongue in cheek. That n*gga was dead a$$ serious. Same with athletes. How do you not snicker when you’re thanking your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for helping you win a game when really all you’re thinking about is what strip joint you and the squad are getting ready to hit… that is, unless we’re talking Tebow. I’m not a fan of his but at least when he thanks God, you know he’s authentic. And I’m an atheist. Its just the hypocrisy that kills me.

          • nillalatte

            “Its just the hypocrisy that kills me.”

            CHURCH!!! LOL… nah, I hear you. I almost got into a fight with a best friend of mine since 4th grade because of her hypocrisy blatantly posted on FB. It took all the restraint I could muster not to put her arse on blast.

          • http://twitter.com/kjnetic Sith King Jordan

            “My point is that unless you are REALLY living what you claim to believe than you’re a hypocrite and I laugh at these guys with their itty bitty homages to their Gods when their ACTUAL LIVES are lived in DIRECT opposition to what their God stands for… and it’s always been that way.”

            how much, of their life, do YOU know?

            i didn’t know you had conviently snatched the Book of Life on torrents from God, and can check how everyone is living their lives, and what they’re thinking.

            but as you said, you’re atheist, and i’m not, so you have the ability to judge, while i can’t. Preeeeach.

            • Breezy

              AMEN!

            • http://taterwithak.blogspot.com K. Marie

              *head nod and a Hallelujah*

            • Amber

              As a Christian and not an athiest. I get what Jay is saying. A tree is known by the fruit it bears so it is not judging if you watch and discern the things that people DO and say. So we don’t have to know the ins and outs of folks lives to see what they are putting out is not of God.

              Hypocrisy/double speak… is what makes some people turn from Christianity. So it’s important to look at what people put out there because sometimes that’s all we have.

              • DQ

                Hypocrisy/double speak is a human characteristic; regardless of what your belief system is.

                • Rewind

                  But no religion-based institute is built on the premise of hypocrisy quite like Christianity. At least Islamm & Judiasim don’t have a grand leader that lives a palace lined with gold while telling people around the world that they should do better to be one with God while his underlings play backdoor games with children. I’m just saying. The world is full of it.

                  • DQ

                    Oh you could make several disparaging characterizations about Islam and Judaism, or any belief system (if you were inclined to). But it would probably say more about you, than those actual belief systems (just like your blanket assertion about Christianity says something about you, not the least of which is your understanding of The Protestant Church versus The Catholic Church).

                    • JessicaL

                      Tell em again DQ

                    • Rewind

                      Then what does my assumption asy about me other than the fact that I don’t agree with something?

                    • DQ

                      It tells me that you aren’t aware that (literally) over a billion Christians have NOTHING to do with, and are not spiritually (or otherwise) guided by the Papacy. And that tells me that you are comfortable criticizing something that you don’t appear to know much about.

                  • Yale GENT

                    This is indeed true

              • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

                Thank you Amber. Didn’t know that I had to consult Elon Musk, catch a rocket to heaven, and plan an Ocean’s 11 type caper to rob the Almighty of the Book of Life in order to know what athletes were doing. Or download it from torrents, which would admittedly, be the more rational course of action. I’m pretty sure that we’re living in the information age and all I have to do is open a new tab and type in my Twitter password, or turn on my television, or turn on the radio, or log in to VSB where WE ALL talk about the ratchetness that some athletes regularly engage in. Really!? Let’s not act all brand new. The athletes let you know CONSTANTLY what they’re doing THEMSELVES. FOHWTBS

          • Justmetheguy

            @ Jay- What you’re not taking into account is that with regards to Christianity (according to my understanding at least) you can do and speak of all the things they talk about and sin as much as your heart desires as long as you ask for forgiveness and show regret about it before you die. I’m not gonna lie, that was my favorite part of being Christian. The fact that it was all good as long as I asked for forgiveness…

            • Cletus Jackson da 3rd Jones

              The Last Poets said it best “Die Ninja Die, So real Black People can live”.
              I didnt realize how much music effected kids until i started coaching a lil league team. It’s cool when i listen to ignorant music cause i know it’s not life and i still have to work for a living, but so many kids dont understand that. I also think they made the song and titled it Amen just to get a reaction from people.

              • Justmetheguy

                “I also think they made the song and titled it Amen just to get a reaction from people.”

                Exactly! What I’m tellin the religious people that are gettin worked up about this is the same thing I tell the overzealous conspiracy theory extremists about all the supposed Illuminati symbolism in videos and songs by Kanye, Jay-z, Drake etc; They only do it because yall react so strongly and get the internet abuzz with them being the topic of conversation. A lot of ppl need to take a lesson from the Perverted Alchemist and stop takin the d@mn bait all the time lol

                • dabigpodina

                  Its obvious that someone of the Christian faith has hurt or betrayed you,or you think believing in something you cant see is ignorance, well that’s too bad. When applied Christianity is a great source of strength. Mlk Frederick D. B. Obama Marcus Harvey Bob Market Colin Powell Mm Bethune. Most all who have made your life better believers. You would make a good Christian cuz you dislike hypocrisy as does Jesus.

            • Londa

              But that really isn’t Christianity if someone is living like that. That’s a huge misunderstanding/misinterpretation; completely not biblical. You cannot repeatedly do something reprehensible and continually ask forgiveness for it. You can’t sin as a lifestyle. If someone is doing that and then calls themselves a Christian, they are Christian by label only. When you have a moment, check out 1 John 3:7-9; and try reading it in the New Living Translation or the Message Version – those translations are a little more understandable than the King James version.

              Now, don’t sleep because yes, there are scriptures that assure us that we are forgiven of our sins; but we have to examine ourselves (Old school: “check yourself before you wreck yourself”) to make sure that who and what we claim to be are in alignment with what our actions display. It is the attitude that we have when we come to God or others asking for forgiveness that matters. We can’t expect forgiveness from someone with one hand while slapping them with the other hand. Unfortunately, there are people who subscribe to the fact that, yes, they can expect it. Again, that’s not biblical.

              None of us – Christian or otherwise – will live perfect sin-free lives. Anyone who claims that they do not sin – and that definitely includes Christians – is a lying. What we can do is learn to become stronger (for lack of a better word at the moment) than the sin. We have to exercise a WILFULL mind change that will be demonstrated by our actions. Our behavior and actions will show whether we are truly turning away from whatever it is that is considered sin.

              The grace we have from God is not permission to sin. It is a freedom to choose/behave differently. One of my favorite songs is by Brian Courtney Wilson and is called Simply Redeemed. It explains his viewpoint on what it means to be a Christian. I one hundred percent concur with his lyrical assertion.

              • Ms. Bridget

                So in other words. I can claim to be a basketball player all I want. I can even hang out on the court and dribble a little, but when I try to play and you see that I actually suck at basketball, you should be able to tell that I was lying. I’m not basketball player, I just want to believe that I am.

                • http://twitter.com/kjnetic Sith King Jordan

                  “So in other words. I can claim to be a basketball player all I want. I can even hang out on the court and dribble a little, but when I try to play and you see that I actually suck at basketball, you should be able to tell that I was lying. I’m not basketball player, I just want to believe that I am.”

                  are you practicing every day to get better?

                  are you training yourself everyday so that your endurance is better than the day before?

                  are you excercising yourself every day so that you can get stronger to get in the paint?

                  are you taking 200-2000 jump shots a day, so that your jumper is straight cash, homey?

                  are you going to gym/basketball leagues to face off against competition to see how you match up, and what you need to work on?

                  then yeah, you are on the path to be a basketball player.

                  i know i’ve said this before, but Christianity, matter of fact, declaring yourself of any religion, isn’t the END, it’s merely the beginning of the path.

                  but…whatever, like i know anything, lol.

                  • dabigpodina

                    Amen

              • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

                Co-sign

      • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

        I’m sorry, but I have to do an organ vamp to this. Praise break anyone?

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        very fair points there bredren.

  • http://lizburr.com Liz

    I actually like this song a lot. I don’t even listen to new hip hop, but this girl on my staff was playing it a while back and it was the only new track I wanted to know the name of.

    I don’t get people taking issue with the word church or amen or even the religious references for this song. Most of hip hop is blasphemous whether or not they’re using religious inferences or not, so why start hating on this specific song? If you’re gonna get your holy rolling panties in a bunch, then have issue with all of it…or sit down because you’re just as silly as the people you claim to have issues with. This picking and choosing of when to catch the holy ghost is suspect.

    Also, a lot of the references to religion in the song are more related to man made religious and cultural practices…specifically black american Christianity …and my Creator and Jesus are about way more than what us Black people have come to know as religion in America. *yeezy shrug*

    • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

      Preach…

      • https://twitter.com/mcnairian5 fiveisthenumber

        “amen” is an affirmation of your acceptance of God’s word. So when someone basically says thanks for these bees and ayches followed by “amen”, folks are gonna get riled up.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Selah

          • Breezy

            Yup

        • Ms. Bridget

          I understood “amen” to be translated as “let it be so”, regardless of what the topic of convo is.

    • http://twitter.com/kjnetic Sith King Jordan

      i pretty much feel the same way…cats have always said “Preeach” especially when someone starts ranting…and “Amen” i’ve always taken to mean “true, true”…

      beats good, lyrics ig’nant…bump it in the club

      “I’m the type to say a prayer and then go get what I just prayed for”

      Yay-Men.

    • Justmetheguy

      ” Also, a lot of the references to religion in the song are more related to man made religious and cultural practices”

      Excellent point. That’s why I didn’t think it was really that blasphemous. It’s just playin on black American tradition. It wasn’t necessarily mocking it.

      I agree wit King Jordan. That line by Drake “I’m the type to say a prayer and go get what I just prayed for” was Drake’s best line on the song. I dug that one.

      And P.J. said Meek’s prayer was so ignant, but at least he kept it real. If that’s what he’s most thankful for, why not thank God for it? #shruglife

    • YeahSo

      @Liz I totally agree.

    • Medium Meech

      Long time… Serious question though. What are the mechanics behind getting ones panties in a bunch and under what circumstances does it occur? It might just be an expression, but I’ve always wondered if women could get that was a real thing/issue for women.

      • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

        ALLEGEDLY, I heard that the closest thing to this (as a literal aspect) is when you have a big booty and your pannies sort of um get lost and um…

        ALLEGEDLY.

        • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

          And allegedly, this is particularly uncomfortable and subsequently, aggravating, when one is not in a position to resolve said bunching situation…

          • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

            This is allegedly a GREAT addition to my alleged point. So allegedly true.

        • Medium Meech

          I can tell that both of you struggle with big cheek related problems from your Avatars.

          • http://pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com Cheekie

            Yes. And WIP’s avi is the bomb. It never fails to entertain me.

    • http://www.todisspits.blogspot.com MicTheMessenger

      I agree.

    • Amber

      Thank you! It bothers me when certain church groups pick and choose songs to get their marching shoes out.

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        everybody does that though. everybody’s a little bit racist, cynical, hypocritical.

        we’ve seen mofos on this here blog get upset one minute about some sh*t that they praise the next. lol. its the nature of the beast.

        • DQ

          *everybody does that though*

          And I am literally amazed at how often people fail to see this.

          • Justmetheguy

            Right, but if everybody does it, and almost everybody gets irritated and calls others out for doing it, then what? I mean, does that make it acceptable? Does that mean we should all just shut up complainin and let people contradict themselves or be hypocrites? No shade btw, I’m seriously asking. Cause most of these convos end up just goin in circles or sounding ridiculous because of that very phenomenon of which u speak…

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

              doenst make it acceptable but does create the perspective that very few people are interested in change that doesnt exactly benefit them. folks just want to live and not be judged while judging others.

              basically, we’re all republicans.

              • nillalatte

                “basically, we’re all republicans.”

                da hail you say. :(

            • DQ

              *Does that mean we should all just shut up complainin and let people contradict themselves or be hypocrites?*

              If we are hypocritical and contradictory at the same time – yes. You can’t criticize me about drug use while shooting up LOL. But even in a bigger picture what we always need to be aware of (especially when we’re about to level a blanket criticism towards any one group) is that there is no better brand of human being anywhere; we are what we are.

              I’ll say that agian, there is no better brand of human being anywhere; we are what we are. Whatever flaw you can find in any one group, you can find in EVERY other group, and probably within yourself. Humanity is a community of glass houses. So any criticism we feel compelled to articulate, should be tempered by that knowledge.

              • Justmetheguy

                “So any criticism we feel compelled to articulate, should be tempered by that knowledge.”

                I agree completely. Seeing this over and over in others made me become way more aware of this in myself. I’m so hyper-aware of not sounding being a hypocrite (or contradicting myself in general) that I rarely know when it’s ok to criticize anymore lol. Seriously though, when I realized this it made me constantly aware of being a hypocrite….as a result I talk less now….and I tell people I understand where they’re coming from a lot more…if the whole world did this we’d all be focusing on what we have in common rather than looking for ways that we’re different. That’s gotta be the first step to (relative) world peace and sh*t

                • DQ

                  I try not to sound like a hypocrite too, but I think I concluded long ago it is a pointless battle. We are human beings, we are prone to saying one thing and doing another (despite our best intentions). I do tend to criticize less harshly (than I would in the past) because of this, but that’s me. The whole world will likely always focus on how we’re different, because it’s composed of people with different values, different beliefs, different views on what is acceptable and unacceptable.

                • Ms. Bridget

                  “I rarely know when it’s ok to criticize anymore ”

                  If it’s done in love and humility it usually goes over better.

            • YeahSo

              “Cause most of these convos end up just goin in circles or sounding ridiculous because of that very phenomenon of which u speak…”
              -I think this was his point…

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      yeah. you could very well be right about that. this just feels different. maybe its b/c the beat is so churchy. just dope churchy.

      • http://lizburr.com Liz

        Yeah but at the end of the day black american churchyness (whatever uw anna call it, call and response, gospel, etc) comes from slavery days and that evolved from africa and blah blah blah. Basically, God and Jesus really have nothing to do with this song lol.

    • http://purplelikerawr.tumblr.com Purplenat

      ^Yes to basically all of this. I’m an atheist, but yes to everything else. lol.

    • dabigpodina

      As the saying goes”if you dont stand for something you’ll fall for anything”. A line has to he drawn somewhere. Where do you draw the line?

  • SweetSass

    Church might be the only Black & intact institution left…

    We must destroy it!

    • http://www.facebook.com/RandGAreZombies?ref=hl The Other Jerome

      Already done!

      • SweetSass

        Thanks to preachers like Creflo Dollar (really?)… Smh. Eddie Long Dong Pedo-man? Yeah, it’s a wrap on God’s House.

        • http://twitter.com/itztrizz617 Tristan

          Oh yeah forgot Creflo Dollar gave his daughter a Stone Cold stunner

          • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

            When Creflo Dollar can say with a straight face that he isn’t that bad because he isn’t molesting kids, we have a MAJOR issue. LOL

          • http://www.todisspits.blogspot.com MicTheMessenger

            From what i know of it, I honestly think Creflo mighta caught a bad rap on that one. If my daughter was headed out the house to a party where i KNOW its gon be 30 ninjas trying to gang rape her, a Stone Cold Stunner might be the lesser of two evils. Better a sore neck from an @$$ whooping now, than a sore neck from topping off the patrons at the strip where she’d work in 5 years.

            Maybe her pole name woulda been Sister Mary Francis Dollar.

          • http://uphereoncloud9.wordpress.com Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

            I thought Creflo put her in the figure four while Taffy pulled his arms for leverage a la Arn Anderson.

      • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

        I agree. The Black church has failed on the three major issues affecting many Black communities today; violence, education and HIV/ AIDS.

        • http://www.twitter.com/think2inspire Think2Inspire

          You know, churches really can help in educating the masses. A lot of the Latin-American churches teach their congregations about immgration issues. My church growing up has something like this and always focused on bettering the community. Last year I worked with churches that would put on health drives and what not. But when it comes to violence, ya got me.

          Do churches not do these things anymore?

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            Most Black churches are busy building the pastor a new residence (and saving up to buy him a Bentley) and pointing fingers at gay people, so they don’t have time to educate the flock.

            • https://twitter.com/mcnairian5 fiveisthenumber

              The church is not homophobic! *salute to the musician and the choir director*

              • http://wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

                LOVE how this INSTANTLY got turned into an indictment of Christianity in general, and Black Christians in particular. Any excuse….

                • WayUPThere

                  I gotta agree with Dubs Cee here, because no other belief system (buddhists, muslims, jews, atheists) has hypocrites or believers of that religion who tend to show that, in fact, they are human, right? Let’s have a constructive conversation about this stuff instead of bashing.

                  • Justmetheguy

                    I realize you probably weren’t talking to me (because I never bashed any religion, not today at least) but I’ll say that when I do bash religions I don’t discriminate. They all catch it. Hell even atheists catch it from me. You really think your puny human brain can explain the existence of a universe this vast and complex? C’mon son lol, why is everybody so afraid of not knowing? (For a lot of people it’s because of the belief of heaven and hell. Fear is a muthaf*cka)

                • DQ

                  Pretty much.

            • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

              It’s comments like this are why I’m Deist and NOT atheist.

              Look, there are plenty of knuckleheaded churches like that. However, there are churches that step up and try to help the community with stopping the violence, education, and what not. Oddly enough, this can often be the same church. And there are some churches, though hardly not enough, that are trying to speak out on AIDS/HIV and gay issues in general.

              Simply put, the church is a human institution, with all the attendant strengths and weaknesses thereof. While I don’t blindly love them, I don’t blindly hate them either.

              • Medium Meech

                Well, looks like I should have read further down.

            • WayUPThere

              Actually most black churches are not hyper-visible; they tend to be smaller institutions that are looking out for their communities, helping members with bills if necessary, and trying to make their small portion of the world a better place instead of trying to get Pastor SuchandSuch the CL Coupe. Most black churches are not doing what those megachurches do, and I know this from direct experience with many black churches.

              Most black churches decry violence and tend to push children to get an education:
              Deaconess Debbie: “I’m making the announcements, but today I just want to recognize the chillrun who have graduated recently. Please stand up. Yall give them a hand! *crowd enthusiastically claps* Dem babies are so precious and they doing so well; we know that they will continue on to bigger and better!”

              ^ I’m sure most of us who have been to church have seen some iteration of the even described above this. Black churches don’t have a good record with stopping HIV/AIDS because they only preach abstinence. While that’s another issue that I won’t delve into today, I say all of this to demonstrate that black churches are trying to get the masses educated and stop senseless violence.

              • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

                Nicely stated.

              • JessicaL

                +1 This is how my church does things. It’s a small church but they even try to hook you up with a small scholarship about $500-$1000 when the kids get accepted into college. They believe in empowering the community not shaming it. I will also say that one year the pastor got a new Escalade. Guess what, the church didn’t buy it he did. He worked for a good company for years and saved some money. Not every church is about pandering to the preacher and buying them shiny things. That’s one piece of ignorance that always bothered me.

                • Sigma_Since 93

                  Jess,

                  I feel you on the small church thing but the members also need to believe in the vision; especially if the vision is not church as usual. I know several churches that want to have scholarship funds but the members don’t want support the activities (time and funds) to seed the projects. If you announce in church that the pancake breakfast on Saturday funds are going to the scholarship fund and two people show up, what type on check do you think Timmy is going to get from the scholarship committee???

                  I’ve provided the teens in my church a laundry list of scholarships that were out there and offered to assist if they had questions. Takers = 0.

            • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

              i aint the most ardent churcgoing Christian, but this is a bit strong, no? i think the ones that do the most “wrong” just get hte most press. i’d wager that the vast majority of congregations and churches are just regular Black folks trying to find a little peace of heave and salvation while they make it through the week.

              • miss t-lee

                Thank you.

            • dabigpodina

              Child please. Sounds like you got that info heresay. Im not saying some congregations funds and tithes aren’t being misused, but dont use such a big brush. You can easily go to the local church and spearhead some community related programs or keep sitting back talking and typing about what the church not doing

          • Medium Meech

            I don’t think religion or Christianity in and of themselves are inherently bad, but they are institutions that 1) hold significant influence, status, and money 2) Consist entirely of human beings with inherent flaws that are realized to their fullest potential when influence, status or money are involved. Religion is a powerful tool that can be used for good or bad, and people have used it for both.

            • whostolethesoul1

              +1, I learned long ago this is the difference between a successful church and one that fails to thrive: either the church is run realistacally as a business and parables are examples or you have people literally worshipping the pastor and waiting on God to help you while you sit around doing whatever, hoping for a miracle on your phone bill. I have often wondered how slaves prayed to a God that enabled the master to justify slavery…religion is a sticky wicket.

              • whostolethesoul1

                *realistically*

          • Ms. Bridget

            My church would have free GRE classes and cancel service every now and then to have clothing give a ways on the lawn. Even had a counselor deliver “the word” a time or two to speak on emotional issues. I realize most churches are not like this tho…and that’s a shame.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

          You got only one out of three. Yes, the Black Churches record with HIV/AIDS is reprehensible. But I do see a lot of churches out there trying to stop violence and education. I’m not religious like that, but let’s give people credit where it’s due.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

            i’m with you.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            The problem post civil rights is that pastors removed themselves from socio-political issues. What I’m seeing now is a gradual shift back to pastors that include socio-political issues into the fabric of their churches.

          • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

            How are they trying to stop violence? By marching? That has no effect. And what has the Black church done to stop the avalanche of Black drop-outs?

            With all of the money that Black churches collectively generate why haven’t they started their own charter schools en mass? And why haven’t they started businesses en mass to give kids a job alternative to hustling on the corner?

            The modern day Black church is all about vanity. Pretty churches, fancy ministers in fancy clothes and not much more.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              @ Val

              Progression is a function of the vision of the pastor, the willingness of the members to follow, AND the identification / procurement of resources. I’ve been members of churches that had a trade componet to help drop outs. When they built an addition, it was a requirement to hire the newly minted trade folk. I’ve seen churches build day care centers and create jobs within the membership and provide a safe enviornment for their members children.

              The challenge is knowing what you don’t know and paying for what you don’t know. When my old church in NY paid a director to manage the senior apartments it built, folks got tight about the salary but found she was worth her weight in gold when audit time came around and the home had no deficiencies.

              • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

                @Sigma

                Okay got it. Although I don’t think that anecdotal evidence is the best, I definitely appreciate hearing that there are a few Black churches being proactive.

            • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

              If you want to be mad at the church, that’s fine. If you want to say yes, they are pursuing efforts in certain fields, but it’s insufficient or misguided because of XYZ, I’d be with you. However, it seems that you have a bias against the Black church. Where I live, I can’t swing a dead cat without running into some sort of church run private school, and every weekend, there’s some sort of Stop The Violence event.

              It seems like you’ve let your (justifiable) anger about the church and its treatment of LGBT issues in general and have it blind you to anything they do. Would it be worth it to you if a Black church cared about LGBT folk but didn’t give a F about violence or education? Your statements make me wonder if you’d be OK with that.

              • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

                “Would it be worth it to you if a Black church cared about LGBT folk but didn’t give a F about violence or education? Your statements make me wonder if you’d be OK with that.”

                I was a little moved by your argument until you added the statement above, Todd.

    • http://www.twitter.com/think2inspire Think2Inspire

      Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long.

      • SweetSass

        Aha, we had the same thought at once!

      • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

        THROOOOOOWBAAACK!!
        http://youtu.be/y46B1u9F5xs

        • http://www.twitter.com/think2inspire Think2Inspire

          That video was a response to Willow Smith’s “I whip my hair” for some reson this makes me giggle even more.

          • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

            lolwut!?

    • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

      I disagree with church being that strong bastion of togetherness that got us through slavery and Jim Crow. Read your history. Christianity was FORCED upon us. Later they ALLOWED us to have church. We were 100% at the mercy of those in power in America. We only had what they allowed us to have. If Church didn’t prove useful to them then they would have taken that away too.

      • Meisarebel

        Preach.

      • SweetSass

        Just about every religion has subjugated someone to spread its Gospel. Hence, I’m a heathen agnostic.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

          So am I, but “agnostic” sounds like a euphemism to me so I just say atheist.

          • SweetSass

            I am agnostic because I can’t prove God doesn’t exist except rhetorically, ie.

            If God is omnipotent and all powerful can God create a rock so big God can’t lift it up.

            Think about that for a minute or until your head starts to hurt.

            • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

              But can you prove that Beowulf doesn’t/didn’t exist?? Can you prove that The Flying Spagetti Monster doesn’t exist?? I’m pretty sure that you have no doubt in their non-existence. Food for thought.

              • SweetSass

                Grendel is the Loch Ness monster.

                The truth is out there…

                *whistles Xfiles theme*

              • http://wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

                You recruiting members? Sounds like it.

              • Justmetheguy

                Wow, can’t believe I’m in complete agreement with Sweet Sass for once. Feels weird, but good at the same d*mn time :) As far as what you’re sayin Jay, you know man I used to think “agnostic” people were suckers. I was like “don’t be on the fence like an indecisive kid” but then I realized that it doesn’t really mean that (not to me at least). The thing about agnostic people is that they’re not rushing to a decision (I can’t blame them because theirs soooooo much relevant information to take in on this subject and it’s such an important one). I’m actually not an agnostic in the traditional sense (I just like the convenience of a label) because I still believe in God, I just don’t believe in the same God most religious folk talk about. If that’s the only definition of God out there, then I’m an atheist. Not the case though. I tend to lean more towards Eastern religions and their spiritual understanding. I won’t go on a rant about what I don’t like/agree with about Western religions though. Don’t have the time and it would be pointless anyway. Everybody’s gonna believe what they want, and I wish them the best of luck with that

                • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                  many paths to the same place.
                  spokes on a wheel meet in the center.
                  something like this in the tao
                  which is my everything
                  and my nothing.
                  (smile)

              • SweetSass

                Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence!

            • demondog06

              sweets said: “I am agnostic because I can’t prove God doesn’t exist except rhetorically.”

              the burden of proof doesn’t fall on the skeptic…..

              http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/why-i-am-no-longer-a-christian/

              http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/atheism-critical-thinking/

              • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

                Took the words right out of my mouth.

      • Amber

        Yes knowing our history is important. Especially past American history because the history of the church goes back thousands of years. It’s not all about repression and a physical structure.

      • dabigpodina

        No no my brotha read the bible And dig a little deeper. The first convert to Christianity was an Ethiopian on the road to damascus NT. Theories say the Ark is in Ethiopia. The first christian nation is Ethiopia away before Europeans got christianity. A nubian named Amenotep was the first ruler to declare that there is only one God. Its a lot more info about Christianity in Africa before the slave trade. Keep researching (blocking) bro its out there.

    • nubianbeauty00

      Intact institution??? Really?

  • She Who Reads

    Hmmm, what do I expect from two grown men who throw bottles in the club? Do I expect healthy relationships with religion, women, or masculinity? Not quite.

    As with the grand tradition of hip hop music, I expect equals parts chauvinism, misogynism, and debauchery, all of which are readily apparent with this latest Young Money offering.

    Does Meek Mill owe more respect, or reverence, to the God of our ancestors? Maybe, but it is because Mill decided to record his sacrilege that we see an issue? Black people have a complicated relationship with religion; on one hand, we respect and honor God, but on the other, possibly even larger hand, we wonder how a God that claims to love us would begin our American history with slavery, and then usher in a new era of discrimination and degradation after the formal end of chattel slavery.

    Anyway, I don’t club or listen to the radio, nor do I listen to Drake, Meek Mill, or Li’l Wayne, so I won’t be unconsciously bopping my head to “Amen” anytime soon. They’ll both to work our their own salvation with fear and trembling like the rest of us. I’ll let God do his perfect work, and leave the judging for those dressed in all black like the omen.

    • Cletus Jackson da 3rd Jones

      “we wonder how a God that claims to love us would begin our American history with slavery, and then usher in a new era of discrimination and degradation after the formal end of chattel slavery.”

      It’s written in the old testaments why this happened to us. It’s the curses for his people breaking the covenant. Read Leviticus & Deuteronomy. It’s all in there!!!

    • dabigpodina

      I think we have all been misled though. If you read the bible there are so many parallels between the history of AAs and the Hebrews in the bible and how God punished them that it seems like prophesy. From being in captivity in a foreign land to womens hair styles. I think our ancestors actually related to the Hebrews. I have a theory that we may be tfrom the Hebrews. Its just so many parallels.

  • DQ

    I guess I’ll be the resident hip hop purist and say I hate the song. Not because of the mixing of religious imagery and lexicon and street rap, that really is nothing new, Tupac did that ALL the time (Hail Mary anyone?). And rap infuses more than just Christianity, Islam gets infused all the time.

    Probably what makes Tupc more easy to digest is that he is aware of his conflict and speaks to it (then we don’t feel so bad, because we’re not the only ones.) But this track? I hate it because it feels like a “gimmick” track, and that gimmick isn’t even all that creative (to me).

    • Inqueerie

      Can I room with you? I have my first’s, last’s AND security deposit right here!

      This is why I can’t listen tp 99.99% of what comes out nowadays. It’s honestly mostly garbage. True test of a GOOD hip hop track is when you can listen to it 20 years later and it still sounds amazing and the lyrics are still relevant. Now, I know we aren’t 20 years from this cut or most of what’s out now, but you can tell a future 20 year hot track from pure crap right now. This here ish is the equivalent of a Weinerschntzel chili burger. Just nasty crap that you feel like vomiting up every bite you take, partly cause you know it tastes, horrible, partly cause you know you bout to have a heart attack right then and there.

      Jesus Walks is a hot track 20 years from now.

      The People (Common) is a hot track 20 years from now.

      This ish will be forgotten like the B-side of a Coolio cd.

      My litmus test for hip hop genius? Ras Kas ” The Nature of the Threat”. If you can put put something as genius, or even close, I call bs.

      * this of course minus his homphobic ranting in the song. I can be a hasbian Bi woman who loves thia song, and you got ninjas talk bout they won’t consider buyon a Frank Ocean album cause he might be speakin to a dude. Phuckin mind boggling!

      • Inqueerie

        I’m tired and typing on a samsing prevail. So please forgive the major typos towards the end.

        Hay, let’s make a drinking game outta tryna figure out which ACTUAL words I meant! One shot for each incorrect guess, two if you’re right!

      • DQ

        B-Side of a Coolio CD? I salute you. That’s unintentionally intentionally funny. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that and I am dying laughing. And I agree, this is a throw away song; it’s a musical fortune cookie. You take it’s cause it came free with the stuff you actually wanted, it provides a moment of entertainment, then it goes in the trash.

        • Third Of August

          Yeah, I like the Coolio reference as well.

          I didn’t know he had enough material to make it to a B-side. lol

          • https://twitter.com/mcnairian5 fiveisthenumber

            I flipped my CD over…nothing.

            • DQ

              And that, my friend, is the unintentionally funny part. I loved everything about the post though… EVERYTHING.

      • Rewind

        I see your Rass Kass and raise you De La Soul – Stakes Is High.

    • YeahSo

      I’m so with you on this. I can’t really even get into this song because it’s so redundant. This ain’t nothing but a redone Wayne beat (see Let the Beat Build, sounds like they took the melody from that and changed it to piano chords for Amen… actually here you go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvhOVkH-2z4) I could be reaching but no lie the second I heard this I thought of this song IMMEDIATELY!

      Hip hop used to be more original. I don’t know. I can appreciate a new spin on stuff every once in a while but now it’s like the new spins on older tracks is the norm… no thank you.

      • DQ

        There is good hip hop still being made commercialy, it isn’t all garbage. I know it’s still in vogue to clown Drake for being soft, but he has more than a handful of tracks with solid production and rhyme skills that don’t make you shake your head and say, “who in the f#ck signed this dude”?

        I loved Saigon’s last CD, but it didn’t do much numbers wise. I think it’s anyone’s guess if Detox or Jay Elec’s album will ever come out

        And there’s also underground artists that would blow people’s doors off if they got any major rotation (Elzhi comes to mind, Big KRIT, I mean folks are out there). Truthfully there are a number of Battle Rap Circuit Champions that would eat most rappers lunches lyrically (Math, Iron, Thesaurus, etc.) though it’s questionable if they’d be a commerical success.

        I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t necessarily feel that the best hip hop is behind us, I just feel there are more clones and throw away artists making one-trick-pony music than ever before. It’s like anything else out there, when it first starts, only the purists are really into it. When people see it can make money, EVERYONE gets into it… including people who aren’t that good at it.

        • YeahSo

          Agreed. And you know what? The universe (God’s creatio :-)) has a great way of restoring itself. I mean who is to say that what’s happening now in coming won’t begin to fade and Hip hop will return to a sound similar that in which it began… much like all things (fashion, life… Michael Vick’s career).

          *sidenote* when I saw that Jay Electronica comment I literally busted out laughing… and Dre? Bwahahahahahaha yeah right.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      i’m glad you brought up Tupac. Tupac could make songs like this that would be easy to digest b/c the title would find a way to replay. the religion in the song was authentic or at least a focal point. this joint to me was akin to just yelling out words that have nothing to do with anything but sound dope to say them. like there’s no religious conflict for meek mill. the ninja heard the beat and said, “thats church…amen” and rolled with it.

      • DQ

        Yeah the way I envisioned it, the producer audtioned a beat for him, Meek was like, “that sounds like a church organ”, and the producer was like, “yeah”, and Meek was like, “yeah, let me make that theme of this song”.

        And here we are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RandGAreZombies?ref=hl The Other Jerome

    The song is arrrite…… and i’m not religious at all….. but it did make me wince a little bit for precisely the reason’s Panama suggested; my religious past and ish.

    However Drake wrapped up his verse with a home-run when he said:

    “I’m the type to say a prayer and then go get what i just prayed for”

    Certified dope, compadre’s

    • https://twitter.com/#!/mackaroto Jay

      Right. Hardest Drake verse in a good minute.

      • http://twitter.com/itztrizz617 Tristan

        Definitely…then when his album drops he’ll go back to singing bout that heaux that curved him

        Drake LPs < ft. Drake

        • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

          +1

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      “I’m the type to say a prayer and then go get what i just prayed for”

      I liked this line as well.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      yeah, Drizzy did his thing.

      btw, am i the only one who was confused for a minute by the ninja Driicky Graham and thought taht was another Drake name, only to find out that’s a different person??

      wait, you have no idea who Driicky Graham is? never mind.

  • b sweet

    At times I find religion to be sacrileges, so………
    Religion is the the practice of worshipping that which you hold sacred. In most cases that’s ones interpretation of God, but technically, Meek is praising what he worships using praise and worship words.
    Music, like many other realms of artistic expression, has blurred these lines many times. Madonna’s ‘Like a prayer’ anyone?

    • SweetSass

      Yeah, she was talking about fellating a Madame Tussauds waxy Black Jesus who comes (cums?) to life in time for a gospel choir to chime in.

    • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

      good observation ~*~

      i remember when Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” (a photograph by a black artist) crashed the National Endowment for the Arts. between him, Robert Mapplethrope, and Karen Finley (and good old Jesse Helms), government funding for the arts forever died in this country. now we got corporations funding the arts, running the script, and as George Orwell said, “All Art is Propaganda.”

      why did i just hear the opening bars to “Off the Books” when I wrote that .. “youuuu betta watch yoself”

      • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

        First, shouts to the Beatnuts reference. I love that group to the death. Two, Jesse Helms defunding government sponsored art was the case of a stopped clock being right twice a day. I don’t want government putting out propaganda in my name. If you can’t get a check for it, don’t go running to Uncle Sam.

        • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

          i’m not arguing for or against government funding. i am only in awe of Serrano taking down the system with a photograph of a tiny little Jesus floating in his own urine.

          i saw the photograph in person years ago, after having seen it in so many magazines. i thought the concept was banal, if not trite, until i saw the photograph in person. it was powerful. spiritual. and it was deeply ambiguous in its message. i wasn’t even open to God at this point in my life but still i could feel something incredible coming through this work.

          and me, really, i love when art can make us question our assumptions around religion and politics in one fell swoop, like Ali in the ring standing over Liston talking about WHAT!

        • DQ

          *Two, Jesse Helms defunding government sponsored art was the case of a stopped clock being right twice a day.*

          Begrudgingly I agree. I mean you really NEVER want to find yourself agreeing with anything Jesse Helms thought, and honestly I think art is important to a society (I wouldn’t call it propaganda perse, but if it is actually art, then it is meant to convey some message) but the government doesn’t really have a charter or obligation to fund it. I hope it was all worth it to Andres. He said his piece “Piss Christ” was about the misuse of religion. I wonder if he’s subsequently thought about the misuse of art?

          Or it could be me. I honestly tried and could not divine any meaningful statement from the piece. Even when I tried to divorce myself from any emotional investment by asking, “would I be similarly skeptical of the value or the message of the art if it was say a Fecal Buddha or a Sewage Ahura Mazda” and the answer is yes.

          I’m not saying art can’t be offensive, but I am saying it can’t be offensive for the sake of being offensive, and then claiming some lofty purpose/message that bears no connection to your actual piece after the fact.

          • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

            i completely agree with your thoughts about Serrano and i was quite loathing of Finley until i saw both their works in person. art, as we understand it through the age of reproduction (props to Walter Benjamin) loses the soul of the original and picks up new meaning by virtue of recontextualization. which, in and of itself, is not a good or bad thing. only when it is connected to political/religious/social agendas, then the propaganda machine is at work in service of a different agenda.

            but to stand before the art as an original, to be with it in the flesh, for me that’s where Truth occurs.

            ps: Helms. my nemesis. i kinda miss the old cat. that’s back in the days when the Senate started culture wars, and i found that to be my kinda FUN (i see you, Patti Astor).

            • DQ

              I can dig that. For me, truth occurs, when truth is revealed (through the art). Sometimes it’s through parody, sometimes through exaggeration, and sometimes through a lie (ironically enough). But when I stumble across some truth, I know it, because I immediately begin to change the way I once thought.

              I had no such moment with this piece. That’s not the sine qua non of metrics by the way; just because I don’t have a “moment”, doesnt mean a piece isn’t communicating something to someone. But I suspect (and again, I acknowledge this may be my bias) that I experienced the piece exactly as he intended, as a provocation designed to garner attention, then retroactively attributed with a “message” whose connection with the piece seems dubious even when explained.

              • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                i am with you. i’ve worked artists to articulate their message and put it out in the world. and that can be a loaded proposition because the communication of intent via words transforms experience. now we must decide if we will contend with their intention, or discard in favor of our own decision. if a message rings hollow to the ear, to me that red flags the message but not the artwork itself.

                i am of the mind that the meaning belongs to the viewer. the artist cannot own meaning. meaning is the space that exists between viewer and work. great art works because it speaks for itself ~*~

                • DQ

                  I agree in principle. It takes away something from any piece of art when it has to be explained. However Serrano felt compelled to offer an explanation, I suspect because the alternative interpretation was worse (i.e. that this was part art, part publicity stunt). And I just honestly believe if he had done the piece in earnest, he would NOT have explained it. He would have accepted the possibility that the worse interpretation would become THE interpretation as the price for doing work authentic to his vision.

                  I come to this conclusion because artists are no less susceptible (IMO) to wrap themselves and their work “in noble cloth” than anyone else, even when what they’re peddling is actually “bull$h!t”. People do it all the time. Republicans wrap all sorts of “bull$h!t” policy and legislation in the flag and patriotism, Shock jocks wrap themselves in “free speech” whenever they get challenged on something they said.

                  We can’t always retroactively rehabilitate people’s actions by discerning some great meaning that wasn’t there originally. Sometimes it’s just people being crude, sometimes it’s just politicians trying to claw for more power, and sometimes it’s just artists trying to garner attention by being provocative. Sometimes. :)

            • kickandasnare

              Really you miss him? That goodoldboy is probably in hot place right now and with the damage he did and the hypocrisy he lived… I’m glad hes gone baby gone.

              • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                good question .. i don’t dig what he stood for except as something to oppose and maybe it’s that i enjoy standing in opposition, just on principle. but there is something that i cannot quite articulate. perhaps it can be seen right here in both Todd and DG agree with his deading the NEA. politics makes for the most unlikely of bedfellows ..

                • http://missrosen.wordpress.com/ esa

                  oop my bad i meant DQ ~

    • Justmetheguy

      “At times I find religion to be sacrileges, so………
      Religion is the the practice of worshipping that which you hold sacred. In most cases that’s ones interpretation of God, but technically, Meek is praising what he worships using praise and worship words.”

      YES! Comment of the day. I said somethin similar upthread. How yall gon tell him what to hold sacred and what not to? Smh

    • Medium Meech

      You’re right. I think it’s a pretty pure expression of religion through the lens of American culture as well. In more churches than I’m comfortable with religion and materialism one in the same. In fact, I think materialism and religion are the two most prominent pillars of American identity.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      good size-up.

      that’s what she said.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    Wow, Panama, you really should have warned us how ignorant this song is.

    Here is the deal with current commercial hip hop; it is being made by high school dropouts who can’t speak intelligently about anything other than buying Bentleys, going to ‘skrip’ clubs, killing ‘n*ggas and having sex.

    And thus, I find this song and most other hip hop unbelievably boring! The religious twist is totally not the point with this song, IMO. The unabashed ignorance is really what this song is about.

    *mini-rant over* :-)

    • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

      Go listen to neo-soul with all the boughie types. Despite my education, I’d rather deal with honest ignorance that fake wisdom you get from the boughie. At their core, so many boughie types act like Meek Mill, but use better vocab. Grrr…

      *rant off*

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      Perhaps I’m just desensitized b/c this song was no more ignant than half the other stuff i hear on the radio.

      your second paragraph is why folks love Nas so much. he’s still a high school dropout, but at least he attempts to fumble through topics he knows nothign about.

      *shots fired*

      • https://twitter.com/#!/IluminatiNYC Todd

        As much as I like Nas, I still agree with the broader argument. I’d rather ignant ninjas still to ignant ninja ish as opposed to pretend to be intellectual to do a song-and-dance routine for the intellectuals. Coonin’ is still coonin’ even if the audience is high-falutin’ and boughie.

        • Justmetheguy

          Yeah, I agree with you Todd. I’d much rather ignorance that doesn’t pretend to be anything but ignorance. It always sounds better and puts me in a better mood anyway. I can’t front though, I don’t think Nas knows NOTHING about those topics, but he doesn’t always do them justice or delve deep enough into the complexities of the topics, but let’s keep it real, you can only say so much in 16 bars and rapping about complex topics is a lot harder than rapping about ignorance. I know from experience and sh*t lol

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

            i do too. but maybe thats why f*cking it up over 16 bars is not the way to go.

            Ras Kass was spitting all kinds of actual knowledge and he rearely stuck to the script. its possible. its just hard to sell records and do it at the same time.

        • demondog06

          yeah but it’s little black kids black kids the emulate this fuqery.

        • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

          The question shouldn’t be which kind of ignorance or whose ignorance you prefer, it should be why so much ignorance.

          • kickandasnare

            TRUTH!

          • Justmetheguy

            @ Panama- I may have heard a song or two from Ras Kas back in the day, but I need to listen to more of him if he successfully pulled that off without puttin ninjas to sleep. Got any recommendations? But yeah that’s my point. At least people know who Nas is and have heard his music…so watering it down seems like a solid strategy…

            @ DemonDog- Yeah I’m goin through that crisis with my 6 year old niece so I feel u. We need a kid’s version of hip hop or somethin. It’s outta control, because it’s everywhere. Even if u play all CDs of your own in your car, they’ll still hear the f*ckery relatively often somehow

            @ Val- You’re right. There needs to be way more balance. I certainly don’t have the answers….

      • http://purplelikerawr.tumblr.com Purplenat

        x_x *going* *gone* *Imdead*