South African Christian Hip Hop –a movement, a state of mind, a culture, a type of music, a group of like-minded peopleORis it a mirage of all the above, a flameless torch, a misdirected passion for many hip hop loving Christians.
I would not be fair in my attempts to voice out my concerns, about the current state of South African Christian Hip Hop, if I don’t acknowledge the many efforts to establish Christian Hip Hop in South Africa, by those who came before me.
And I write this with a few in mind, dudes like, Kytron, C jay, Greggory Cassim, Last Days Fam, Danny Vambilli, Fusi Nkoalo, Incense, Harold Moyo and Dumisani Luthango just to name a few and these brothers along with many others, which I fail to mention in this paper, have done extraordinary things for Christian Hip Hop in South Africa.
I’m sure with many more conversations and far better research, we would thoroughly be able to trace the history of Christian Hip Hop in South Africa and as important and urgent as this is, for the sake of this paper, I want to speak about the current state of this ‘industry’, at least I want to believe that we can build one moving forward.
As you read this, on one level you might be thinking,“who the heck does this guy think he is”or“what gives him the right, liberty or authority to address us (CHH community)”? If I have caused any offense so far, let me put you at ease.
There is nothing special about me, that I would think of myself more prestigious to take this task or for anyone else to see any worth in me, that I might be dubbed as the voice of the movement. I’m just a Christian who loves Jesus and wants to share Him, with the world through my passion for hip hop.
In this attempt, I have encountered many others like myself and through countless dialogues, other musical contributions and the efforts, we have reached a state where we are persistently asking,“How do we facilitate the growth of this movement?”And I use the term “facilitate” with intension to draw light on my contention, that South African Christian Hip Hop has the makings of an industry but in actual fact, it’s a hard shell with a hallo inside.
We have actual music with all its various components and these are our(contributors).We have a Christian community of hip hop lovers and arguably people in the larger Christian community, who are not immediate cultural participators, but support us because of the core heart of the movement and these are our(consumers),so from a distance Christian Hip Hop looks like an ‘industry’.
But if an industry is defined as“an activity or DOMAIN in which a great deal of effort is expanded”then may I suggest that what we have, is a few scramblers throwing products(activity)into a black hole(domain),expecting consumers to jump into this black hole to find these products.
At the same time, we have consumers on the other side of this black hole, expecting the products to pop out and find them. So this mirage of an ‘industry’fuels the current chaos in this black hole (SA CHH)
Though there is much hope in the black hole, because of the countless passionate masses, who want to see much being made of Christian Hip Hop, for the sake of the gospel. But in order to facilitate the movement and cultivate unity for all parties involved,WE NEED TO ORGANISE OURSELVES BETTER!
Here’s where I believe we have dropped the ball and dug our own grave.
UNITY VS STRUCTURE
Because of our‘glorious’cry for unity, I think what we did is, to drop everything else for the sake of achieving this dream, which then made our methodology counterproductive.
Let me give you an example. As individuals who belong to the body of Christ, we are thechurchbut in order to facilitate fellowship –‘unity’we need achurch building, whether it’s a tent, a house, a classroom it doesn’t matter, what matters is that we need a space orDOMAINwhich will become the facilitator for our unity.
But what we did, is leave all our individual tools at home, that are supposed to help us construct this building and we ran out to an empty field, with hopes that somehow the dry dust, from the harsh ground of our disunity, will serve as enough fuel to bring us together.
But if we are honest with ourselves an empty field doesn’t cultivate any inspiration to unite but what it’s supposed to do, is motivate us to build and that’s my point, let us build on this empty field, let us organise the chaos in this black hole.
THE WAY FORWARD
We need a building, put in pipelines, create a structure, a domain in which our efforts can be expanded.
So from a distance it seems as though we all playing in our own small corners, and it might be true, because the playing field (black hole) has not been organised yet. So the consumer doesn’t know how to buy from this shop, because all the shelves are not set up and all the clothes are mixed up, you get underwear with the socks, the ties are mingled up with the shoes. So even the contributor who wants to come into this shop to sell, thinks it’s a‘free for all’hence they play in their own small corner, resulting in this ‘fatal’ disunity.
Structure will facilitate growth and cultivate unity, structure will motivate the contributor to contribute more, because the pipelines would be clearly defined, structure will encourage the consumer to consume, because their preference would be displayed, and catered to them, structure will turn a movement, a state of mind, a culture, a type of music, a group of like-minded people into an‘industry’
We do have various contributors, from rappers, producers, promotors, DJs (both radio and events) venues, graphic designers, media specialists etc. Point is, we have the ingredients to build and run an industry that will be sustainable, not just for individuals but for the core mission of the movement.
In conclusion the one goal to share Christ with the world, through hip hop, may be achieved with all our different individual gifting embraced and never crushing this core heart of the movement, only ifWEORGANISE OURSELVES BETTER!!!