If I Were a Prophet I’d Be a Rapper, part II

Now, I don’t want you all thinking that I’m down on rap.  I love hip-hop, but it’s an expression, and there are always going to be expressions we don’t agree with.  I believe most of the things rappers go bragging on about are true, even when I know that they’re lying or exaggerating – so in the sense that they speak the truth, I suppose they are prophets.  My last post came out of a deep disappointment, not in the form but the content; that these awful truths are presented in a glorified way.  Glorifying gang life, drugs, serial sex, and violence is like glorifying cancer, AIDS, fatherlessness and poverty; ironically, there’s a lot of rap out there that glorifies the first list and yet also shines a very bright and true light on the awful situation of the latter, seemingly missing the connection between them – they all kill and destroy.  I’m disappointed by many rappers, because of this very inconsistency.

But there are a lot of hip-hop artists who really are prophets, speaking truth to power and to the masses, seeing reality with penetrating eyes and exposing injustice so that the rest of us can see it too.  They challenge us to see differently, and to live differently in light of what we see.  May we see more artists like them.

Here’s the lyrics to a powerful song about the music industry as a microcosm of our entire society – and Satan.  It’s by one of my favourite artists of any genre, Shad, and it’s called “I Heard You Had a Voice like an Angel”.

I heard you had a voice like an angel
I heard a strange tale
About a saint that fell
Music became jail
These bars I hear you rapped/wrapped in em
Wove in the beats
Like the clothing of sheep
Wolves tracks – spin em
Cd’s dj’s
g’s thrown on d’s
we’ll be kings like T.I hope
I heard you even sang when you spoke
And the emotion you evoked got you choked
When your beauty struck a vocal chord broke
Boatless dove ovcrboard
Look upon the surface
Caught your reflection before the lord’s
I heard you had a voice like an angel
Strange though
You were blinded by the light
shining from your own halo
fell off
sort like a rainbow when heaven watched
your faint glow fade slow
I heard you had a voice like an angel…

I heard that fame’s a killer that can murder great
Princes like \Kurt Cobain singing Purple Rain
From a distance
Hope home ain’t a virtual game
Nor this cursed place earth
Where the dollars and the karma don’t circulate
The world’s a stage
And you know this play well
Gee I bet you even know how it ends, pray tell
Had a voice like an angel, now you score the drama scenes
The comedy’s the fact
We enact what you want to be
Had some old songs still stuck in your memory
Distorted though
So he sort of re-assembled melodies
And fine-tune and turned em into single after single
In this industry you built so sinfully simple for
You to write cuz, a song is what your life was
The destiny of stars is their light must
Fight dusk
With sparks of brilliance to ignite us
But of all the billions of stars
You were by far the brightest
I heard you had a voice like an angel
Now its just a light hush…

Now you keep everyone’s heart on charts and schedules
And the trends trying to stack gold bars and medals
They want vessels void and dark as space
Fools wanna make stars instead of music that’s smart or special
Because art at a level that’s real can be harder to peddle
Business prefers a market that settles for 2nd rate
Kill the true artists martyr the rebels
That’s the system and its straight from the heart of the devil
See merchants of dreams sold to souls eyes-wide shut
Passin the buck to purchase a pass to buy stuff
Workin in this circus get hired up
To walk over have-(k)nots on a tight rope
Tied-up in my gut
It’s a delicate balance
Developin talent
Into persons that we worship
To it’s a hell of a challenge
I heard you had a voice like an angel
And don’t really sing no more
But you still running the game so
If you don’t behave like them
They call you crazy
And if you wont slave for them
They call you lazy
Ive started to see why you hate me
Hearin this voice it must be painful
To the ears when for years
You had a voice like an angel

If you don’t behave like them
They call you crazy
And if you wont slave for them
They call you lazy
Well I say…
They wanna take your mind
Turn it into a prison
Lock you inside
Then they call that livin
Well I say…

Smile for the camera
Smile for the camera
While they take your children
Smile for the camera
While we rape your women
Smile for the camera
While we make our millions
Smile for the camera
While they make their billions
Smile for the camera
Smile for the camera
Smile for the camera…



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