KID ROCK, EMINEM AND OTHER "THEOLOGIANS"

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It's easy to look at the performers of today, especially in the music industry, and point out all of the ways they act immoral and how their lyrics are often deplorable. This article takes a different approach. I try and find lyrics showing that these artists are searching for something, or should I say Someone. Hopefully in their quest for "the truth" they will find THE Truth.

Submitted: August 21, 2016

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Submitted: August 21, 2016

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KID ROCK, EMINEM AND OTHER THEOLOGIANS:

Yes, you read the title correctly. One of the things I like to do is pay attention to secular song lyrics and find any double meanings that may be implied, any knowledge of God found between the lines (or out in the open), or any sense of a seeking out of things “God related.” You may be surprised at some of the knowledge and understanding a lot of today's rappers and singers have regarding spiritual things. Many of the same performers who spew vile lyrics also display some sort of knowledge of who God is and the power He holds.

I think people in the music industry often get a bad rap (no pun intended). They are under a magnifying glass and every action they take, every word they speak, and every lyric they sing gets scrutinized repeatedly by anyone and everyone. In some ways I take my hat off to them. They are open and honest, often times to a fault, and they sing what they have lived or are currently living. That takes guts.

Five performers, just five. I chose five popular singers/groups/rappers and did a quick search of some of their lyrics. I'm familiar with all of those I have listed and have heard most of their songs. In context it can be quite a learning experience for everyone. The five I chose were at random and I thought I'd simply share some of their lyrics and how they relate to life, God and/or religion. Perhaps show how there may be some hope in this realm of the entertainment industry as long as these performers continue to seek out that which is missing in their life.

Kid Rock: Born in Michigan, Robert James Ritchie, known professionally as Kid Rock, is a multi-platinum award-winning American rock ‘n roll icon whose musical style ranges from hip hop and rock to heavy metal and country and has sold over 26 million albums around the world. He is also an actor and played the character of the bully in David Spade's, “Joe Dirt.”

I saw Kid Rock in concert several years ago. His energy and desire to please his fans was most impressive. At one point he performed solo's on the piano, keyboard, electric guitar, bass guitar, regular guitar, drums and even the harmonica. He is indeed a man of talent.

What interests me most, however, are the topics and lyrics present in his works. If one can get past the cussing and sexual exploits, layers of Kid Rock began to peel away like those of an onion, especially as he ages and matures.

Only God Knows Why

“People don't know about the things I say and do
They don't understand about the *hit that I've been through
It's been so long since I've been home
I've been gone, I've been gone for way too long
Maybe I forgot all things I miss
Oh somehow I know there's more to life than this

“Only God
Only God
Only God knows why, why, why, why
Only God...knows...why, why, why
Only God knows why
Take me to the river edge, take me to the river...”

Clearly the title reveals, as do the lyrics, that Kid Rock is aware of the fact that things happen in our lives that are beyond our control and reasoning. At times “Only God Knows Why” and it appears that is good enough for him to get him through. Even if his knowledge is not “salvation knowledge” it gives me hope for this young man.

In his song “Rock and Roll Jesus” he compares how he is treated and the position he's found himself in in his world, the top of his game, with that of Jesus in the realm of Christianity. This may seem blasphemous at first glance, but to me it shows he knows there in no other above Jesus. Jesus is the top. It appears he recognizes this and took some artistic liberty to make the comparison.

Blue Jeans and a Rosary

“All my life I've been searchin'
All my life I've been uncertain...

“I met an angel to rescue me
She rescued me
She wore blue jeans and a rosary
Believes in God and believes in me...”

In this song we again find him searching, searching for something that is missing. He mentions angels, granted that's how he's describing someone he fell in love with, but the theme of being rescued is not limited to this song alone. We also see a reference to God as he sings this “angel” believes in God and that is a positive characteristic he finds in her.

Amen

“It's another night in hell
Another child won't live to tell
Can you imagine what it's like to starve to death

“And as we sit free and well
Another soldier has to yell
Tell my wife and children I love them in his last breath

“C'mon now amen, amen, amen

“Habitual offenders, scumbag lawyers with agendas
I'll tell you sometimes people I don't know what's worse
Natural disasters or these wolves in sheep clothes pastors
Now *od *amn it I'm scared to send my children to church
And how can we seek salvation when our nations race relations
Got me feeling guilty of being white
But faith in human nature, our creator and our savior, I'm no saint
But I believe in what is right

“C'mon now amen, amen
I said amen, amen.”

Now we see Kid Rock speaking out regarding some of the world's injustices: starving children, soldiers dying in unnecessary wars/battles, crime, the legal system, the atrocities performed by so many “pastors.” Race tensions and reconciliation are mentioned and he ends this section with admitting he's no saint but does have faith in our “creator and savior.” Sounds like someone who has given a lot of thought to God, doesn't it?

For those interested I also suggest looking up, and listening to, Kid Rock's “Lonely Road of Faith.”

Eminem: Born in St. Joseph, MO, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known professionally as Eminem, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor from Detroit, Michigan. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12, and one half of the hip-hop duo Bad Meets Evil. Eminem is the best-selling artist of the 2000s in the United States. He was also rocked 83rd in Rolling Stones list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

I am sure most of those reading this are thinking “Boo! Hiss!” at the mere mention of Eminem. Please be reminded that I am not elevating any of these performers to a faith status they are not at, I'm simply looking for light in the dark, hope in the chaos, a glimpse that perhaps things can change in their soul as long as they continue to keep their minds open to God.

Rap God

“Cause I'm beginning to feel like a Rap God, Rap God
All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod...”

This short phrase is akin to my sentiments stated above regarding Kid Rock's “Rock and Roll Jesus.” He is put on a platform, idolized and almost worshiped. He realizes that he is at the top rung of the ladder in his world, so he makes a comparison to the mightiest thing that comes to mind and for him it is God.

Lose Your Tourniquet

“Coast to coast shows, he's know as the globetrotter
Lonely roads, God only knows
He's grown farther from home, he's no father
He goes home and barely knows his own daughter

“My God my tourniquet
return to me salvation
my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation...”

Again, we have a recognition that struggles and problems happen beyond human comprehension and “God only knows.” In addition, we then have a request for a return to salvation and God being compared to a tourniquet. Think about it, what does a tourniquet do? It stops the bleeding. It saves lives. It solves a deadly problem.

I think it's only fair to engage our minds and interpret these songs with the same creativity the artists use when they create them.

Ludacris: Born in Champaign, IL, Christopher Brian "Chris" Bridges, known professionally as Ludacris, is an American rapper, actor and entrepreneur. Along with his manager, Chaka Zulu, Ludacris is the co-founder of Disturbing tha Peace, an imprint distributed by Def Jam Recordings. Ludacris has won Screen Actors Guild, Critic's Choice, MTV, and Grammy Awards.

Do Your Time

“You looking at a man that would
die for his daughter, just to let her breathe
And I'd definitely die for Jesus cause he died for me.”

Strong words. Quite a bold statement for a hard core, trend setting rapper. Nothing is held back as he states he would not only die for his daughter, but he would die for Jesus because Jesus died for him.

Freedom of Preach

“Lord, please forgive me for the mistakes I've made
And thanks for keepin my momma safe when she wrecked my Escalade
See I could replace a Cadillac but I can't replace my momma
I'm sorry for the hip-hop beefs, we sorry for the drama

“Lord, got so many questions I need the answers to
And sorry for the thangs I put my baby's mama through

“Searchin so looooong, I was lost in the clouds
I'm tryna stay strooooong, and make you prouuuuud
It took me some tiiiiime, but now I see
That Heeeee resiiiiides, in me yeahhhhh yeah

“We still travelin through life, findin what's right or wrong
I know some folks may not agree or even like this song
But I'm just speakin MY truth, cause I heard it sets you free
And my conversation's with God, even though he speaks through me
I'm smarter cause of my daughter, and I'm NOT too dense
I'm 28 years old, it just now started makin sense...”

In this track we recognize right away in the title a church and/or religious them, preaching and the freedom to do so. As the song continues we read what is basically a prayer. In the prayer we find Ludacris asking forgiveness for his mistakes, thanking God for protecting his mother during a car wreck, he's reaching out to God seeking answers to life's questions. He continues on stating how he's searching for God, trying to stay strong, and doing his best to make God proud.

I don't know about you, but this song comes across as a much deeper, real, genuine, honest prayer then many of prayers I've heard recited in church.

Creed: Creed formed in 1995 in Tallahassee, FL. Founding members Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti had been classmates in high school and both attended Florida State University, where Stapp studied law before dropping out to pursue music (a decision that led to conflict with his parents, as his father was a Pentecostal minister). Stapp and Tremonti began writing songs together, many of which obliquely addressed themes of Christian spirituality.

During the late '90s, Creed emerged from a mass of post-grunge contenders to become one of the decade's biggest-selling rock bands. At a time when many other Seattle disciples were lapsing into inactivity or experimenting with less commercial sounds, Creed carried marched forward, grungy hard rock without apology -- and they were greatly rewarded for their persistence, selling millions upon millions of albums in only a few years' time.


One Last Breath

“I'm looking down now that it's over
Reflecting on all of my mistakes
I thought I found the road to somewhere
Somewhere in His grace
I cried out heaven save me (save me)
But I'm down to one last breath
And with it let me say, let me say

“Hold me now
I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking
Maybe six feet ain't so far down...”


Here we find an artistic description of one who struggles with their faith, as if they are on a see-saw. Their faith goes up, there faith comes down. They are longing for a constant, steady faith “somewhere in His grace” and even cry out for God to “save me.” Even with their faith they constantly struggle, they feel as though they are always “six feet from the edge” and may give up again because after all, “maybe six feet ain't far down...”


My Sacrifice

“Hello my friend we meet again
It's been a while, where should we begin
Feels like forever
Within my heart are memories
Of perfect love that you gave to me
Oh, I remember

“When you are with me, I'm free
I'm careless, I believe
Above all the others we'll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My sacrifice

“I just want to say hello again
I just want to say hello again...”

I see this as another heartfelt prayer to God. A prayer of restoration, a longing to return to the intimacy once had with God. The lyrics show one has been reunited with another whom heart felt memories had been shared, whose “perfect” love had been given and who had made them finally feel free. He's speaking of an on again off again relationship with God. He's wanting to come back, he's wanting to “just say hello again,” to get reacquainted.

Three of the members openly identify themselves as Christians (all except Clayton) and since the beginning decided to pursue and promote the band's career in a manner that would be consistent with their religious beliefs, which are as mentioned above, heavy on social action. Theology professor Eugene Peterson says the band has "little patience with media-driven aspects of the Christian religion and a church and culture that shows little concern for justice and poverty and sickness.”

With all of that said, clearly U2 is a bit different from the other artists we looked at in this article. I include U2 though as I think many who listen to them have missed just how Christian themed the vast majority of their music is. I also included them because although 75 percent of the group identifies themselves as Christian, they were never a “cross over” band. In other words, they were never a “Christian” group that went secular or vice versa.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

“I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you...

“I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was one empty night
I was cold as a stone
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for...

“I believe when the Kingdom comes
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes I'm still running.
You broke the bonds
You loosened the chains
You carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believe it...”

There's a particular place in my heart for this song. One of the churches I have been a part of combined this song with “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord” and it made an incredible reflective moment during praise and worship. The references here are fairly clear: he has gone to lengths to be with God, spoke with “tongues of angels,” admits “holding hands” with the devil and how cold and empty that time was and how it left him in want. Then he speaks of the Kingdom, a time when there will be no racial tensions, the “bonds” and “chains” have been broken, and how Jesus carried the cross for us, for our shame. Pretty straight forward references.

One last song as we conclude. No notes or commentary will be added at the end of this song. No explanation will be given, as I believe anyone with just a hint of imagination will be able to recognize the themes. It's rather straightforward.

Jesus Christ

“Jesus Christ was a man that traveled through the land
Hard working man and brave
He said to the rich, 'Give your goods to the poor'
So they laid Jesus Christ in His grave
Yes, Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand
His followers true and brave
One dirty coward called Judas Iscariot
Laid poor Jesus in His grave

“He went to the preacher, He went to the sheriff
Told them all the same
'Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the poor'
So they laid Jesus Christ in His grave

“When Jesus come to town, all the working folks around
Believed what he did say
The bankers and the preachers, they nailed Him on the cross
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave

“And the working people followed him around
Singing and shouting gay
But the cops and soldiers nailed him in the air
And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave

“Well the people held their breath when they heard about his death
Everybody wondered why
It was the landlord and the soldiers that they hired
To nail Jesus Christ in the sky

"This song was made in New York City
Of rich man and preachers, and slaves
If Jesus was to preach like He preached in Galillee
They would lay Jesus Christ in His grave

“Yes, Jesus was a man and a carpenter by hand
His followers true and brave
One dirty coward called Judas Iscariot
As laid poor Jesus in His grave.”

*(This article is not meant to be an endorsement of any particular group or individual. I am aware of the vile lyrics and lifestyles existent in this area of entertaiment by some. I just chose to look for the "river" in the "ocean," the tiniest beam of light in the darkest of storms, the needle of hope in the haystack of life). 

 


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