Memphis Pastor Declares ‘Hip Hop Is Not Our Enemy’ in New Book [VIDEO]
We wanted our readers to take a look at what this pastor and musician had to say about hip hop and its parallel with Jesus and the church. Please let us know if you agree with him or not. We are curious to know what people think of his reasoning on the subject.
Dr. Kenneth T. Whalum, Jr. is pastor of New Olivet Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to his pastoral duties, he blended a lifetime of wide-ranging experiences, in 2010, he released his critically-acclaimed book, Hip-Hop Is Not Our Enemy [digital; print], an insider’s critique of the Black church’s role and responsibility in co-opting Hip-Hop culture.
AllHipHop.com: …Towards the end of your book, you offer a blueprint for Hip-Hop sermons. As a “Hip-Hop theologian,” how – and why – do you think you were called to incorporate Hip-Hop’s cultural framework within religious institutions?
Kenneth Whalum: Well, it starts with my own children, man. I have three sons who are musicians. Each of them is a professional musician. They were trained in music, they read music, and they make music. And they all love Hip-Hop. I heard music all the time in the house that I grew up in. All of my grandparents were musicians. It’s sort of indigenous and natural for me from the music perspective.From the Hip-Hop perspective particularly, I just couldn’t avoid all of the references to either God or godlike characteristics in the Hip-Hop music itself. The most glaring example of that would be H.O.V.A., man. You know, how much closer do we need to get to that connection between Hip-Hop and holiness?…
AllHipHop.com: They would say, “I want to thank God.”
Kenneth Whalum: …yes. They would thank God, and they would be wearing crosses, and I make a point of this in the book. They’d be wearing diamond-encrusted crosses that were as big as their chests. It was such a loud statement that rappers – who were initially misunderstood and misconstrued in terms of where they were coming from – would identify with the most widely recognized emblem of Christianity in the world, which is the cross. So, I don’t know, man. All those things sort of played together in my mind, and they all came to a head when Three 6 Mafia won their Academy Award.
AllHipHop.com: … The introduction of your book notes that you find parallels with Jesus and earlier generations’ use of creative language, as well as the dynamics of their times. As the church folk would say, “Make it plain, pastor”! [laughing] What parallels do you see?
Kenneth Whalum: Well, one thing that is also unavoidable is the fact that Hip-Hop is driven and created and perpetuated by young people. It’s a young person’s environment. It’s a young person’s product, even though the ones who typically make the most money off of it is the group of elderly, non-Black people who couldn’t be further from Hip-Hop and its indigenous environs. That’s the first thing. From that, I derive what Jesus himself said about children.What He said himself about young people in his teachings and in his just day-to-day chillin’, man. He always gravitated toward young people, and they always gravitated toward him. There’s a portion of my book were I spotlight Jesus talking about the children singing to the audience. They’re singing to the onlookers saying, “Listen. We’ve been playing and pipin’ to y’all for years and years trying to get you to see” [Matthew 11:17]. I can almost hear the rhymes as they performed on the streets of Jerusalem, just being themselves.It’s clear that Jesus went to bat for young people, and He challenged the status quo. That is the parallel between the Hip-Hop generation and Christ, himself. …