Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Reformation of Hip Hop

Justin Taylor has posted an interview he did with Trip Lee, one of the bright lights in a growing phenomena - Doctrinally thick hip hop. Like Shai Linne, Tripp Lee is right here (in Philadelphia, that is). He is a student at Philadelphia Biblical University and attends Epiphany Fellowship. Epiphany is an urban church connected with Acts 29. Eric Mason, the pastor, is a wonderful guy.

Here is a portion of the interview:
One of the most interesting things to me about this resurgence of Reformation-influenced hip hop is the amount of teaching and celebrating you can do in one song, especially compared to other forms of music. Can you give us a bit of insight into your process for songwriting?

Yeah, hip hop is such a unique art form. I was talking to a brother in Nashville the other day about the fact that words like propitiation and eschatological don’t sound so great in “praise and worship” songs. Not that our goal is to use big words, but the nature of hip hop gives us a bit more freedom and an amazing platform. A hip hop song has a lot more words, therefore we can be more didactic and can be more thorough in our celebration. So, we are allowed to play a special role in the Christian music world.

Personally, my songwriting process differs from song to song. Some songs are more reflective so they come out quickly and easily. Others may require further study, etc., so it is a longer process. For example, we did a project called “13 Letters” a couple years ago where each of us surveyed a book or two from the Pauline Epistles. I did Philippians and Titus. Those songs took a bit of extra study because I wanted to be careful to hit most of the major themes, and to do as good as job as possible with such a massive task. But no matter what song I am writing, I always take great care to make sure I am in line with Scripture. With my last two albums, I have a friend whom I trust theologically who reads over all of my lyrics before I finalized the songs. I jokingly call them “heresy checks” and he looks to see if there is any misleading wording, or any theological mistakes that I looked over. I am constantly aware of the fact that as a minister of the Gospel, I speak on behalf of God. And though music is not preaching, any time I say “God said,” He better have said it.

I know you’re studying at Philadelphia Biblical University and worshiping at Epiphany Fellowship with Pastor Eric Mason. What’s the future look like for you?

Well, I’ve been in Philly for around 4 years and I’m staying put for a while. I live in Northeast Philly with my beautiful wife of one year. In the future, my prayer and desire is to help pastor a church. So I see my schooling as preparation for that. I’ll graduate within a year or so and I plan on doing seminary after that. I also try to take advantage of sitting under Pastor E at Epiphany. He trains all of the ministry leaders at Epiph regularly. And in addition to that, me and him get together often so I can learn from him and our other pastors. Music is what I’m giving myself to for this season, but ultimately I think the pastorate is my calling. I’m trying to be patient, but my heart yearns to help shepherd God’s people. I’m praying God gives me the opportunity and the grace to serve well. I also want to write a lot, and I just began my first book on why doctrine matters and how to study it properly. I hope it reaches the kinds of people who don’t visit the Gospel Coalition site every day. I’ll continue to make music as long as God continues to transform lives, and as long as it is the best use of my time. My desire is to be faithful wherever the Lord places me.

Read the entire interview HERE.


kevcyp said...

There is not another genre of music, other than hymns, that have more Biblical depth than what these guys are putting out there. Another artist to check out is Lecrae.

Jared said...

Here's a 'shout out': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmIX5TLkrJE :)