Thursday, June 14, 2007

Charisma Interview in it's raw form!

JB of Charisma Magazine -What is the goal of your DVD series The Truth Behind Hip Hop?

G. Craige Lewis - Actually, we have no goals for the DVD because we never pursued or planned to record a DVD. One of the most dangerous things that I believe has infected the body of Christ is self-promotion. Yet, this is what most pastors or traveling evangelist are told they must do to get the word out. If the word they were trying to get out was their own then promoting it would be fine. However, if its God’s Word then I believe that God is responsible to promote it. The Truth Behind Hip-hop is definitely an example of that. The series came about as a result of my traveling and preaching The Truth Behind Hip Hop for two years prior to the DVD. The 1st DVD was recorded in 2002 at the request of a ministry in my area. Initially, I turned them down, because I didn’t want to change the way God was getting the message out. However, after I prayed, the ministry approached me again and the Lord told me to let them record it. The recording didn’t cost me a dime of my own money and besides that, we never mass-marketed it, signed a distribution deal, or tried to promote it ourselves. Yet, through word of mouth and just making them available on our site quite a few people have ordered the DVD’s. What are my goals and desires for the DVD’s? I never planned for DVD’s in the first place. Simply put, I want what God wants and that is for every believer to deny himself and follow Christ!

JB of Charisma Magazine -Your message on secular hip-hop is clear, however, I didn't see where you offered an alternative or solution to what our young people should be listening to. Could you please explain further on this?

G. Craige Lewis - This is dealt with in our 3rd DVD, Antichrist Superstar. We believe that God is not an alternative! He should never be put in the position to replace something that should have never been there in the first place. Consider this, a young person is saved and delivered from an addiction to drugs and the church gives them “holy drugs” as an alternative? This is absurd. Yet this what so-called “holy-hip-hoppers” are doing. That young person doesn’t need an alternative drug; the drugs should have never been in their lives in the first place. We teach young people that Jesus Christ is the WAY! Seek him and find him and you will know then what is good and acceptable according to the unction that is within you, called the anointing! We are here to push people into the face of God not by offering replacements, but rather using the written word of God and exposing the darkness and deception that exists in their lives whether through music, or any other form of idol worship. God is first. Once you seek him, you will know in your heart what is good for your mind and soul. Some people think that I am anti-music. As a musician and former producer, I have recorded plenty of music; I have friends who record good Christian music; and according to some trends in ministry, I should be taking the bad stuff and then selling them my stuff—but God has not told me to do that. I preach the message that God has told me to preach and let the Holy Spirit, PASTORS, YOUTH PASTORS, and parents do the rest.

JB of Charisma Magazine -What are your feelings toward the holy hip-hop movement?

G. Craige Lewis - Holy Hip Hop is ridiculous. It makes no sense. It's just another tool of the enemy to make our young black males act, dress, and behave in a manner that is only beneficial to a Rap star and those that profit from it. Although, these antics may be entertaining to some, to the average black man, these behaviors are roadblocks that halt their forward progress in the true culture we live in called the American culture! Dressing like gang members, wearing your hair like women, sagging your pants like inmates, and speaking broken English is, by the American standard, unacceptable behavior and will continue to be a hindrance in the future of our generation. Why would a church embrace that? Why would a church promote that? Out of desperation, many churches are resorting to Holy Thugs and Gospel Gangsta's to entertain their youth while the adults are worshipping. You see, you can't minister to teens about self-love, self-promotion, self-empowerment, and all the fluff messages that our new Mega church era is overrun with. Kids won't sit through, what I call the top-pop Sermons of the neo-penecostal movement: Miracle, season, harvest, breakthrough, favor, destiny, and purpose. Only adults will chase that stuff. Kids want it real. Therefore, to keep them entertained without a true heart for their souls, you must do what is popular to them. You must mimic the world, follow the world's lead, and subscribe to the current trends and fads if you don't have a true call to minister. Therefore, the Holy Hip Hoppers have found a way to masquerade as the answer while they sell their music and promote themselves. They sound just like the secular stuff. They look just like the secular stuff. They even listen to the secular stuff to get their sound and flavor. So, all they really do is build the desire for the kids to go out and get the real stuff but just do the imitation while at church, cause that's what is available!

JB of Charisma Magazine -Jesus translated the gospel into terms that people could understand (i.e. parables and storytelling). Do you feel this can be OK for our culture as well? Can hip-hop be used in this way? Why or why not? I think of it as the same as different publishing companies providing different translations of the Bible. I also think of Paul's verse that said he is all things to all men (1 Cor. 9:22), except a backslider and unrepentant sinner, of course!

G. Craige Lewis - First of all Jesus didn’t translate the Gospel He was the Gospel, the Gospel is the record of His life, death and resurrection. Secondly, He didn’t speak in Parables so that people could understand. Ironically, it was just the opposite: He spoken in parables so that the truth would be hidden to those who thought themselves wise and prudent.
Matt. 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Matt. 13:10 ¶ And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

Matt. 13:11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

Matt. 13:12 “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

Matt. 13:13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

If anyone has seen any of our DVD’s or have ever heard me speak, they will know that we teach and preach that Hip-Hop is not just a genre of music. Hip-hop is a lifestyle. It is a manner of life. When a person comes to Christ He changes his lifestyle. Furthermore, Hip Hop's origin causes it to be useless when it comes to ministry. The word Hip Hop, according to the founders of the culture and the pioneers of the music art form, was first used in the clubs by the Sugar Hill Gang. Remember that song that said, Hip Hop, Hippy to the Hop, don't stop rocking...........? Well, that song was using the 2 words Hip Hop to describe women's booty's shaking to their beats in the club. Basically, in it's simplest form, Hip Hop means Booty Shaking! Your hips hop to the beats. Just look at the last twenty-years of hip-hop videos: the clothes changed, the music changed, even the lyrics changed but one thing that always remained the same is the gratuitous camera shot of girls hips hopping. We can quote “I became all things to all men…” all we want to; but I don’t think Paul ever meant that he would make the people’s booty shake to win them to Christ. Moreover, how in the world can you have Holy Booty Shaking? Sure, the youth will come to shake their butts and throw up their hood signs, but will they be changed? We have seen millions of youth saved, set free, and delivered, and we have never used any kind of music to draw them.

JB of Charisma Magazine -Since I have begun to research this article I have come across some interesting observations. If it is OK, I would like to explore these with you. It is said that hip-hop culture can be looked at the same as American culture. Both have their up sides and their down sides. If you showed someone from another country all the American strip clubs, bars, jails, and ghettos, perhaps they would see America in a terrible way. But if we showed that America also had churches, good will and charity organizations, sports, great universities (that is up for argument, but anyway :-)), one would see American in a more realistic light. It has been said that the hip-hop culture is also the same way. The bad is very bad, but there are very positive things that come out of the culture--creativity, holy hip-hop, political voice, a point of connection to express and release the pain of this generation. How do you feel about such comments/observations?

G. Craige Lewis - Hip-hop is a sub-cultural movement, and cannot be compared to an ethnographic or demographic culture. A subculture is defined as a group with distinctive characteristics within a larger culture. This is why we say that hip-hop is at best, a subculture. Furthermore, its not a movement based on it's own concepts but it is a subculture that uses basic deconstruction of words and concepts to cause those that are apart of it to strive to be more visible in our present society. Initially, hip- was created out of lack and fatherless-ness. Young boys whose father's were absent began to adhere to the streets rather than abiding by the rules that govern success in society. The streets life became their expression and selling drugs, murdering, and fathering illegitimate children became their motes operandi since they had no authoritative male figures to look up to. This birthed the clothing, the language, and the social rejection that gave way for this subculture to emerge. All that we see now is a result of lack and fatherless-ness. Should we adapt to that? Or should we show a better way? Should we promote Christian Gangsta's and Holy Thugs? Or should we teach them that the street life is not the only way there is? There is no way to compare the American culture with a street life subculture that was birthed out of rebellion and recklessness. You can't rebel against a culture that you are apart of and expect to excel in that cultures system. So, if you are not a rapper or DJ or some other occupation that is financed by the subculture of Hip Hop, then you won't make it in the true American Culture. Rebellion will only label you an outcast or reject and cause you to be ridiculed and immobilized.

JB of Charisma Magazine - Another thing I would like to better understand is that you mentioned that hip-hop comes from the devil and that it is Satan's trick to "cause" people to worship him and receive his mark. Did you mean "all" hip-hop?

G. Craige Lewis - Please allow me to restate your question referring to my earlier definition: Did I mean all booty-hop came from the devil? Hmmmm…ultimately yes. However, before I answer where hip-hop came from, let me clear up where it didn’t come from. Obviously, Booty-hop did not come from God. I hear a lot people (mostly holy-hip-hoppers) trying to refer to “hip-hop in its purest form.” Referring to hip-hop as a pure form is like trying to refer to Crack as a pure form. Crack in itself is a hybrid of cocaine and other chemicals used to “cut” it. Yet the reason holy hip-hoppers try to make this quantum leap in logic, is so they can somehow say that hip-hop is a gift from God. One very popular Grammy Nominated Holy-hip-hop group suggest that on judgment day God will judge us based on what we did with Hip-hop. God has nothing to do with hip-hop. The founding fathers of hip-hop all readily admit that men created hip-hop out of rebellion. So technically, man created hip-hop, but rebellion inspired it. The Bible clearly states that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. What spirit governs rebellion and witchcraft? The devil. So what about Holy Hip-hip? Surely, they distinguish themselves from the rebellious element of hip-hop don’t they? No, they can’t. Jesus said a kingdom divided against itself can’t stand. Holy hip-hoppers dress like secular hip-hoppers; behave like secular hip-hoppers (throwing up gang signs) and even listen to secular hip-hop so they can emulate them. At one of the Holy hip-hop awards shows, a fight broke out east coast against west coast just like secular hip-hop.
When most Holy Hip Hop artists rap, they never refer to it as Holy, but just Hip Hop. Why is that? Because, there is only one subculture of Hip Hop and it is not holy! KRS-ONE, the lead prophet and spokesperson for Hip Hop says that Biggie was John the Baptist and Tupac Shakur was Jesus Christ and they died for our sins! He is revered and looked up to as the father of Holy Hip Hop. He says in Hip Hop there are no gods and goddesses, we are the gods and goddesses! He even has T-Bone and BB Jay on his CD called Spiritually Minded, which is sold in Mardels, Family Christian, and all major Christian bookstores. He says he is a prophet and is here to teach the truth about Jesus. He says we are all Jesus Christs and should not worship him or call his name out, but be Jesus. He has Temples of Hip hop all over the country and is meeting with Holy Hip Hoppers to join together in efforts to promoting Hip Hop in the church! In our discussion with Ambassador of the Cross Movement, we urged him to call what he was doing Christian Rap and not subscribe to Hip Hop Culture. We asked him why couldn't he just rap for the Lord and use his ability to create rhymes for God without giving credit or props to Hip Hop. He said he couldn't. He is apart of the Hip Hop Culture and would not denounce it. All Rappers believe that rap is the music, but Hip Hop is the lifestyle or the way of life. This tells us that all Hip Hoppers have an agenda. Not to just rap, but to promote a rebellious way of life! Hip-hop takes what was once seen as bad and makes it good. Thugs, pimps, and gangstas was once seen as bad but hip-hop says that its good. Holy hip-hoppers are governed by this fundamental element and try to sanctify hip-hip by adding one word “holy” to everything. Now they say Holy thugs, and gospel gangstas as if this will change the essence of hip-hop terms

JB of Charisma Magazine -And also, what did you mean when you later said that Satan can't create anything, that he is anti-God and anti-creation? Just to clarify, it appeared that there was a contradiction in that point. Could you explain your complete thoughts on that?

G. Craige Lewis - Satan did not create Hip Hop, but he used man to create it. Man has a unique ability that was not giving to Satan. Man has God's attribute of creation. The devil took the music, the fatherless-ness, and the false god worship of the Zulu Nation, and fused it together to form an anti-Christian movement of Hip Hop. I don't believe the devil created all the things that make up the movement, but he did mastermind the culmination of them all.

JB of Charisma Magazine -Also, how would you respond to the argument that people may bring up from Colossians 1:16-17: "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist"? I have heard this text used to defend that use of hip-hop to glorify God and to win people to Christ.

G. Craige Lewis - There is NO biblical example of music ever being used to win souls to Christ or to evangelize. Music as a unique ability to coerce your mind and physiologically causes the release of pleasure chemicals in your brain. Because of this, it's hard for a person to make a good sound decision for Christ with the emotional trappings of music involved. Their decision will be based on feeling rather than fact. I believe that this accounts for much of the schizophrenic Christianity of the modern Church. Many churches heavily use music during their altar calls and people make a decision for Christ without being soberly minded. This leads to a conversion that is based on their emotions rather than their sound judgment. When they go back to their former environment and their emotions change they turn away from God. There is no biblical account of music being listed as a fold in the five-fold ministry or used by the apostles to draw a crowd. Jesus said no man cometh unless the Spirit of God draws him. If you notice, the only people that are really pushing Hip Hop in the churches are those that profit from it. Since when did the resale industry's method become our model for winning souls? When I speak, we never use music and hard core gang members, pimps, whores, drug dealers, drug users, etc. have come to Christ by the thousands without Hip hop or any music!

JB of Charisma Magazine -What do you think of holy hip-hop churches and ministries?

G. Craige Lewis - What's next? What is the church going to do to reach the red-light district? Or the strippers? Are we going to dress up like whores and start whore ministries to reach them? Are we going to dress up like pimps to reach pimps or cross dress to reach homosexuals? (Believe me, some are probably behind the scenes trying to set up these movements even as we speak.) People need the power of the Holy Ghost to change them, not our methods. These are the purpose driven churches that are really people driven! They want big numbers and large offerings, so they turn to fleshly methods and the promotion of their own ideas rather than preaching the truth of the Word of God without compromise. If the Holy Hip Hop churches and ministries were really affective, they would be in the streets with their kind and not in some building acting street! I want all pastors and ministries that are holding on and not giving in to this perverted move of carnality by embracing this demonic subculture to know something. You are not alone! There are hundreds of thousands of churches and ministries out there that are not giving in and just because you see the mega pastors and conferences trying to push this Hip Hop agenda, stick with what God is telling you. There is something wrong with boys sagging their pants and tattooing their bodies. There is something wrong with girls dressing and acting like prostitutes and hookers. There is something wrong with Gospel Gangsters and Holy Thugs wearing grillz and speaking broken English. Stay true to what you know God is saying. Teach the parents and they will effectively minister to their children. Don't sideswipe their authority by bringing in the very images and lifestyles that parents and the education system of America is trying to change.

JB of Charisma Magazine - Thank you Elder Lewis for your responses. I see in one of your answers that you asked to one of the members of Cross Movement to call their music Christian rap. It appears from this dialog that you do not have a problem with someone rapping Christian lyrics--just not subscribing to the hip-hop lifestyle. Is this assumption correct? Also, what style of music would you say is appropriate for Christians to listen to? Or maybe you wouldn't tell someone what to listen, but how would you teach someone to choose the kind of music that truly glorifies God?

G. Craige Lewis - I am not against rap, or any style of music, but I do not believe that Christian music should exalt the performer at all. If it's Christian, or Christ-like, it should exalt only Christ. The Holy Hip Hoppers promote themselves all in their music because Hip Hop is self expressive and self serving. That is against the plan of Christ, self denial! I believe a Christian should seek God in every way possible and deny their flesh in every way possible. This includes selfish music that causes us to move in an inappropriate manner or songs that lift up people as idols and do not lift up Christ. Self denial is the root of Salvation and must be practiced as Paul said, daily. So, with our investigative estimations of the gospel music industry being over 95 percent homosexual, self worship is being promoted in music and self promotion is key in being successful as an artists. The only example of this in the bible is Lucifer, the angel that the bible says iniquity was found in him because of his much merchandising! It also states in Ezekial that the iniquity of his traffic (self promotion) got him cast out and labeled profane.