In the past few months, two stellar rappers have released tracks specifically calling listeners to attention over how we respond to artists in the media culture of today.
It’s not news that many media outlets, run by real people, share videos, articles, tweets, etc., bashing artists to attract attention. Rapper NF comments on this phenomenon on his track “Paid My Dues”:
Click, clicks, clicks, they’ll do anything to get a few…
I read your article, it kinda hurt me
I don’t know who hired you
Or what your friends say in your circle
But the fact that you released it
Tells me two things are for certain
They get paid for trashing people
I get paid ‘cause I stay workin’
NF’s thoughts, which become far more vulnerable as the song goes on, beg not only the question of ‘Why do people publish material solely aimed at tearing people down?” but also ‘Am I one of the people clicking on this material, and thereby encouraging those producing it?’ It’s sobering to see how our ‘clicks,’ our mere consumption of media, can contribute either to an artist’s personal healing, or to their struggle.
When rapper Kanye West, a recent convert to Christianity, announced his plans to release a Gospel album, social media exploded with the reactions of the baptised. Reporters scoffed and teased on public programs, online outlets speculated on the quality of tracks they had yet to hear, and every day folks began to weigh in and comment amongst each other on the validity of Kanye’s conversion. Kanye responded to the fury using the album itself, on the track “Hands On”:
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?
They’ll be the first ones to judge me
Make it seem like nobody love me…
Yes, I understand your reluctancy, yeah
But I have one request, you see
Don’t throw me up, lay your hands on me
Please, pray for me
Kanye’s request was both humble and humbling. When we are faced with an artist we do not like, do we discuss them with derision? Or do we discuss them with a mind towards loving and hopeful prayer? Are we praying for our artists?
Social media can often seem like its own entity removed from the real world, but in reality it is but a means through which we live our real daily lives. And just as in face-to-face interactions, our words and the words of others have power. When God created the world, it was through the Word (John 1). We have been given the ability to speak curses and blessings with our words. Our words matter. A lot.
As Christians, we are called to love our brothers and sisters with a degree of sincerity that may remain shocking even to us (see 1 John 4:16-21), in desiring and striving toward their good, in building them up in Truth and Love (1 Thess 5:11). As beings who house the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), we have been entrusted with the mission of bringing Christ – Way, Truth and Life; Light, Love and Resurrection – into every sphere of our existence.
These two rappers, themselves believers on a journey, issue to us both a challenge and a call. How can we transform the climate of the media by our response to those who work in the industry? And how can we touch the lives of our artists through sincere and trusting prayer?
Together, may we always bring blessing upon those whose names God has shared with us through media.
About the author: Sr Orianne Dyck grew up in Ontario, and is a convert to Catholicism. She earned her Bachelors in Anthropology and Bachelors of Education, and taught for 5 years before entering The Daughters of St Paul, where she is currently a novice.