Tupac, Lauryn and Jesus?
Makaveli, L-Boogie and the Son of God?
Not exactly Elijah or Isaiah. But prophets nonetheless.
What are prophets?
Who are prophets?
People who deliver an appropriate word for a given
The connections run deeper than you think.
It all depends on what you hear.
I was walking around the University of Southern California the week of the big football game against UCLA. There was a homecoming rally, but I was on my way home. Then I began to hear some beats. I didnít know a concert was going on. I was curious, so I followed the beats. A stage was set up in the middle of campus, a DJ was scratching, the crowd was pumping their fists. I could hear rapping in the distance. I had to get closer to check it out.
It turned out to be Mac-10. He was flowing for the crowd and putting on a good show. I was enjoying the scene.
I began walking around the back of the crowd to look for some of my friends. Someone looked familiar to me. I had to do a double take. It looked like Trugoy from De La Soul. I got fired up. I had been a De La Soul fan for ten years. And here he was just chilliní on my college campus. I went up to him and said whazzup. He gave me love and we began talking. He was way cool. We talked about education, east and west coast rap, the new emerging styles, the spirituality of college students, Jesus and life. It was a great conversation. After a half-hour, we shook hands and he told me he had to get ready to perform. De La Soul was headlining the homecoming concert. He disappeared. I didnít see him again until later that night when he was moving the crowd.
I sure am glad I followed the beats that night. I didnít know what was on the other end. I just put together that something was up. I had no idea I would get to spend an hour with a hero from my youth. The beats hooked me up.
Jesus doesnít have weak beats. When he drops a beat or freestyles, our hearts hit heights we never knew existed. Jesus wants to be seen and he wants to be heard. And he wants to invite us into his inner circle.
The biographies of Jesus in the Bible include a story about three astrologers. They probably werenít as shady as Miss Cleo, but they were astrologers nonetheless. Still, God spoke to them. They walked all night through the desert because the stars told them Godís Son had been born into the world. They were the first ones to figure out what God was up to, because God wanted them on the inside. God could have communicated with them any wayócould have hollered on their cell, dropped an e-mail or hit them on their two-way. But these three saw the stars God had placed for them. They did their mathematical homework and figured out Godís plan on their own.
These astrologers had no formal religious background. They didnít feel comfortable at church. They knew what religious people thought about palm readers. They knew people talked trash about them. And they talked trash about others. They were not ďreligiousĒ people at all. But their faith still serves as an example for all of us today. You would think the religious people would be in the front row for the birth of Godís Son. But it was the astrologers, not the stuffy religious folk, who were first to give Jesus props and show him love. The religious people were too busy being religious. They missed Godóand still thought they were more spiritual than everyone else.
There are some important lessons to learn from the astrologers about how spiritual growth works. Itís not where you are from; itís where youíre at. Your religious background takes a big backseat to your religious future. Spiritual growth is not just for the religious but for everyone who is looking for something more in life. If you never went to church and donít know much about the Bible, you should expect Godís love to begin crashing into your life. God is self-revealing to the spiritually curious.
Just as God did with the astrologers when Jesus was born, God puts clues in our lives today. Just as the beats led John to Trugoy, the clues will lead us to God. Our heart might begin to beat heavier. Our palms might begin to sweat. Our eyes might strain as we are in Godís brilliant presence. And when we find him, our soul will melt when we see his beauty and we realize that the hard journey has been worth it. As we know him more intimately, the script will be flipped.
We will begin to realize that while we were pursuing God, all the time God was pursuing us. We will begin to realize just how deep Godís love for us goes. It goes way back.
We live in the real world. We arenít professionals dissecting hip-hop lyrics from an ivory tower. We are spiritual leaders serving hurting people in our communities. Alex is a black man from Madison, Wisconsin. (Alexís personal experiences are marked AG.) John is a biracial Korean-white man from Los Angeles, California. (Johnís personal experiences are marked JT.) We have experienced real problems in life, and we have seen the power of God to bring hope and healing to any situation. We know the people we love look to hip-hop for strength, direction and comfort. That is why we write. We are fans of the music. We like Tupac. We like Lauryn. In fact, John went to concerts to catch Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and Third Base. We are fans.
We believe our entire generation is being led into deeper God-knowledge through the music. We just have to listen, understand and appreciate the heart of the beats.
We think the hip-hop community has been hated on too long. People are always in their business. It is easy to be a critic. But the hip-hop community possesses unmatched strength and potential. They are a gifted and courageous people. And we believe God will use that. Remember, itís not where youíre from. It is where youíre going, and most important, where you finish.
The haters donít see that hip-hop leaders are being raised up for spiritual purposes as a chosen generation.
The following pages contain our experience of God through the music of Lauryn and Tupac. We are not trying to cram Christianity down anyoneís throat.
Weíve been around that block. We hated it. Instead we share how the music touches us and draws us closer to God. We invite you into our own thoughts of the music and share with you our own stories of how God has hooked us up.
Our only challenge to you is that you listen to your own soul. Our world today moves fast. We get into patterns. Some are good. Some are bad. But few help us connect with the real needs of our soul. Yet when we slow down and truly listen, we begin to create space for God in our soul.
The astrologers followed the stars and found themselves at the foot of Godís crib. As you listen to Tupac, Lauryn and your soul, where will you find yourself?
Listen to the beats.