Wednesday, June 5, 2013

'What would Jesus rap about': Mentor man shares voice of black Christian rapper in book

David L. Moody has become something many of us readers only dream of — a published author. 

“Political Melodies in the Pews? The Voice of the Black Christian Rapper in the Twenty-first Century Church” grew out of the dissertation he completed to obtain his PhD while teaching at Bowling Green State University.

The Mentor man had been teaching at BGSU following a lengthy career in radio and television and stints teaching at Lakeland Community College and Notre Dame College.

He began exploring the possibility of getting his dissertation published about four years ago.

It really only required tweaking, he said, to turn it from a scholarly focus to a work more open to a broader audience. 

And while Moody’s focus is on the black Christian rapper, his work does provoke thoughts regarding the tools any church uses to reach out.

“Churches are using these tools to reach the masses,” he said. And yet, “in a lot of churches, doors are not open to this type of music.

“It’s too closely tied to secular rap music.”

Because rap music is often associated with things like guns and drugs and a “gangsta” lifestyle, there’s “a lot of baggage when you use the term,” he said.

That’s a lot for the black Christian rapper to overcome in his quest to reach youth of today.

Yet artists like Kirk Franklin have done just that.

“Kirk Franklin has taken it to another level and crossed over to commercial success,” he said.
As he writes:
Like the secular rap artist, Franklin uses the poetic language of rap to express his own personal trials and tribulations; his adulation of Jesus Christ is spiritually choreographed internally and expressed outwardly through rap and hip hop music. 

And it clearly resonates beyond the church walls. Franklin has sold more than 12 million recording since his group began, Moody writes.

He envisions this book as part of a trilogy and has plans to look at the issue of women and the pulpit and homosexuality in the church as it pertains to the black musician.

An assistant professor at SUNY/Oswego since 2010 — and you thought your commute was a long one! — Moody also now is working on a book project on black identity in film and television.

- Tricia Ambrose


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