Shai Linne Laments State of Christian Hip Hop in New Album
“Lord, kill me if I don’t preach the Gospel” – Lerae, “Go Hard”
Shai Linne has been absent from the music scene since 2014 in order to focus on his Church. His rapping was known for its deep lyrical content, teaching about topics such as false teachers, the judgement of God, the hypostatic union, and Jesus’s active obedience. This week, he has returned to the scene with his new album Still Jesus. Shai Linne has both exhortations and lamentations concerning the state of modern Hip Hop. In his song “Random Thoughts 3” he claims,
“We noticed a big shift in 2012… Christian Hip Hop found a different algorithm and crossed over without taking the cross over… Trip [Lee] asked me if I was still motivated. I was quiet, but I wanted to say, ‘No, I hate it, [because] brothers in your camp [are] causing lots of confusion. I love them as brothers in Christ but not their conclusions. They want to reach the world; by all means keep pursuing it, but why [do] you have to diss the Church while you [are] doing it?'”
He continued to say a very quotable line, “Boaz without Ruth is unity without truth.” His sentiments are more fleshed out in another song in the album, “Ichobad”. The very title is a reference to 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (Read more about the term here). In the song, he expounds,
“Christian Hip-hop got me feeling brokenhearted. We’re such a long way off… from where we started. We think we’re winning, but Satan got us outsmarted. I wonder if the glory of God has departed. Lord, help us! Before You choose a different squad. We need to repent, or else we might get the rod. I can’t call it – It seems like we’re sick of God.”
He also asks, “What’s the difference between the ‘mainstream’ and ‘broad road’?” (See: Matthew 7:13-14). He particularly singles out Trip Lee’s camp, presumably referring to Reach Records.
On Twitter, Shai mentioned, “When a brother says ‘Lord, kill me if I don’t preach the gospel,’ and then completely switches up his approach, it’s confusing.” This quote is from Lecrae during his and Tedashii’s “Go Hard”. Lecrae generated much controversy when he claimed, “I don’t try to do Gospel music; I’m not trying to be a Gospel rapper. I’m a Hip Hop artist.” (Source), sentiments shared by Trip Lee and Andy Mineo. Further controversy was generated in 2015 when Reach Records removed Romans 1:16 and any reference to it, the Gospel, or even Jesus Christ from their about section (Source).
Shai made sure to clarify that he loves these men as brothers even though he disagrees with them. He has had positive interaction with KB and plans to meet with Trip Lee in the near future. On Twitter, he claimed, “I did not ‘diss’ Reach Records and this isn’t ‘beef’. ‘Diss’ and ‘beef’ are worldly concepts that have no place in God’s church. To ‘diss’ is to disrespect, to insult, to belittle, to mock. ‘Beef’ is angry dispute that leads to violence. That is not what this is. This is a disagreement between brothers. It’s public b/c it involves public figures making public decisions that have public effects. I know it seems unfathomable in hip-hop, but biblically, it is possible to have legit disagreement & still love the one you disagree with.” (Thread here).
Shai Linne is right. The state of modern Christian Hip Hop has gone downhill and continues to go downhill. The downgrade has also hit what was previously one of the strongest corners of Contemporary Christian Music. From partnering with the Pope to promoting profane and worldly rappers, the downgrade has hit CHH hard. The fact that many are starting to leave Jesus and the Gospel out of their music is no small issue. To quote the verse that was once their brand name,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16 (ESV)
[Contributed by Brandon C. Hines]