Me, Jesus and Music: The Experiment

King Remembered In Time

King Remembered In Time

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a thought spree/twitter rant about Jesus and secular music. The dilema of determining what I shouldn’t listen to because of my faith is nothing new. I’ve written about it before, and came to the conclusion that it comes down to being a matter of my heart. Since then, I’ve cut many an artist from my rotation. I thought that I’d miss the old music, but it was a surprisingly easy process. The good thing about cutting out old music is that there was more room for new music! Ok, let me get to the point.

I did an experiment a few weeks ago. Warm weather means concert season in Nashville, and I’m a sucker for a live show. However, the environment at most hip-hop concerts aren’t cut from the pages of a storybook. I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t enjoy myself last spring/summer. So much so that once the cold months came I decided to become a hermit indefinitely. Now that the sun is heating things up, I’ve realized that I’m not meant to be in the house. AT ALL. I want the sun. I want the crowds and people watching. I want the bands and amazing voices. I want it all. But can I have it all and not go left? Or will being in the live show environment make me want to repeat previous years of wilding out? Perfect test was the Big KRIT show.

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I love me some KRIT. LOVE. He’s a great mix of ratchet and intelligence. He raps about what he knows and it’s genuine. No, his songs aren’t about God. Yes, there is plenty of profanity. Do I feel some kind of way when I listen to him? No. Like I said before, it’s all about the heart. I’ve been to a few KRIT shows in my day. I think that this one was my fourth. And let me tell you…. I had a BALL! Did I drink? No. Did I identify with what everyone was talking about in every song? Not at all, but I never have. Did I get sleepy and leave early? Yes. I have to work every morning at 7am. No way that I can hang when the headliner doesn’t even hit the stage until after midnight.

This is pretty much the dopest picture of Open Mic ever. Don't debate me.

This is pretty much the dopest picture of Open Mic ever. Don’t debate me.

I came out of this experiment knowing a few things for sure. OpenMic is amazing and I’m impatiently waiting on FTR2. Petty has this thing about him that’s infectious. I can’t really describe it, but I promise you can’t sit through his set and not vibe with him. He’s had me since I thought he was a random white boy at the AyeVee show. I was so wrong (he’s black). Big KRIT has never disappointed and I don’t believe he ever will. Most importantly, I know that my doubts and agonizing were for no reason. Honestly, I can go into any show on this planet and be just fine as long as my foundation is strong. I know I’m still going to hear the “Watch what you feed your spirit. Be careful of the places that you go, you’re a Christian” speeches. I’ve never believed that my God is one to take away things that we love when we choose to live for Him. He doesn’t want us to lead boring monotonous lives. So catch me at your favorite venue. In the middle of the crowd. Falling totally in love with someone’s performance. Matter of fact, join me!

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The Higher Learning Tour: Nunu’s First HipHop Concert

Since I’m documenting my live show experiences, I figured why not share what happened when we took my nephew to his first hiphop concert. I wrote this a few days after the show, but of course it hung out in my drafts until now. My pictures from this show kind of suck. We were far away.  Enjoy!

A couple of  months ago, Lecrae and Dee-1 came through Nashville on The Higher Learning Tour. If you haven’t heard of them, but enjoy rap and love God, I suggest that you give them a listen. I, being the hiphop head that I am, knew that there was no way that I’d be missing this show. My sister and I also decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce my nephew to the world of the hiphop concert. Reginald, affectionately called Nunu, is forever singing in the car and we’ve had to be mindful of what we play when he’s around. It’s great to have rap artists who can be played at obscenely high volume in the car without worrying about what my eight year old nephew is hearing. Needless to say, he loves Lecrae and I’m pretty cool for playing his music.

The day of the show, Nunu runs into my room after school and jumps on my bed. “Are you going to the concert?!” I, in a nap induced haze, have no idea why he’s asking me such an obvious question. I forgot that my sister never tells him when she’s planned something just in case he acts up and plans have to change. Mothers are slick like that. He was on pins and needles until it was time to get in the car. We get to TSU’s Gentry Center and there are no signs of life, let alone a concert. Apparently, the venue that was advertised was not where the concert was being held. Mind you, the advertising was close to non-existent. Nashville has to do better. But that’s another issue for another post. Back to this story, we found the building and were ready for a few hours of fun.

Nunu chooses a spot on top of the closed bleachers where he could take in the entire room. The opener was Propaganda, a former teacher from LA. We, and most of the people in attendance, had never heard of this guy but he was super hype. I love to see an artist on their first tour because their performance is so organic. They love what their doing so much that they will rock on that stage alone and enjoy every second. That love is what makes the crowd eventually rock with them. It’s contagious. I loved the way that Propaganda mixed spoken word into his set. It wasn’t gimmicky. Nunu, on the other hand didn’t seem to be impressed. Uh oh.

Next up was the comedian/host. (I forgot his name) Now, this guy was a hit with the kid. Brandi and I weren’t as impressed, but Nunu was cracking up at every joke. Every time I looked up he was doing the knee slapping belly laugh. While the comedian was on, I noticed the next act, Dee-1 on the side of the stage. It’s normal for artists to be off to the side before their set, but I thought that it was kind of cool that he had his notebook out and looked to be drawing. Now, I’ve quit paying attention to the stage and am watching Dee-1’s process. The pacing was never-ending, probably due to the fact that the comedian obviously ran over his time and then kept going. Oh, and how much can one person have in their pockets? I’m almost positive that Dee-1 had them beat. And after spending what seemed like forever handing his pocket contents to his homeboy, he still had to stop at the dj booth to unload one last item. Do all artists go on stage with empty pockets? I’ve met and seen him perform before, so I kind of knew what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much his stage presence has improved in a year. He was comfortable on stage.

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Check back in with Nunu, he’s bobbing his head, but Brandi and I are obviously enjoying the show more. By this time I’m a little worried. This kid, who dances all the time and makes up a rap version to every song, is sitting still. He’s not jumping. He’s not even standing up. Was this a mistake? Were the lights and sound too much? Does he really not like hiphop as much as we thought? But there was no turning back because Lecrae was up next.

Lecrae hits the stage and I see a whole new side of Nunu. He’s jumping and rapping along and having a ball. He’s even come down from his perch to enjoy the show beside Brandi and I. His hands are up, he’s smiling. Lecrae is performing all of his favorites. It looked like all was perfect in his little world. I’m so happy that I could be a part of that moment.

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Thanks to positive artists like Lecrae and Dee-1, I can share my love for hiphop and live music with my nephew at such a young age. They are dope lyrically without cursing and negativity. They are men of God and great role models for young men. The type of “cool kids” that I want the little men in my life to look up to. We had such a great time.

I found out later that Nunu loved all of the artists who performed that night. His reason for not acting like it: he was saving his energy for Lecrae. The logic of an eight year old. I love him.

 

 

Music City? Hey, I Gots A Question

I live in Nashville, internationally known as Music City. I have a friend who was able to attend the SouthxSouthwest festival in Austin, TX this past week. I was on the receiving end of texts about how dope this artist’s set was and how swagged that artist was, and yes I was a major hater full of salt.

See, I had previously spent time calculating the cost of making the trip the Texas and concluded that I had to be out of my mind to attempt the trip at this time in my life. My brokeness looked at me and laughed. After spending the week experiencing bouts of extreme jealousy, I started to think.

Why in the good name of all things dealing with a rhythm and instruments does Nashville not have a music festival like SXSW?

I don’t want to hear a thing about the CMA Fest and country music fanfare either. That is restricted to one genre. Although the city may be primarily highlighted for country music, that is not what earned the nickname and is not all that we have to offer.

Now would be the perfect time for a festival in Music City. Our hip-hop scene is growing at a crazy pace, with artists who are travelling to festivals like SXSW and even Sundance to win over new ears and enlarge their fan base. And I’m not even going the mention the amount artists with national fame that the city has produced who most people don’t even know are from Nashville. There are so many artists that have Nashville as a tour stop just because we are Music City.

And think about the amount of revenue that a music festival would bring to the city. It is not like there are a shortage of venues for shows. Off the top of my head, I made a list of 10 and that does not include the large venues such as The Ryman Auditorium, Schermerhorn etc. I don’t think that getting people to attend would be a problem. Just look at the amount that travel in droves every year to The Middle Of Nowhere, TN to camp out at Bonnaroo year after year.

So Nashville, I need answers. Can somebody remedy this for me? I’d be forever grateful.