Kareem Manuel, Sketch the Journalist, & others discuss “Talented Xth”, race, & faith

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On Monday night I was honored to be a part of an online discussion about rap, race, and faith.

It was hosted by author Seth Tower Hurd and included hip hop artist/urban missionary Kareem Manuel and Ta-Tanisha Jordan, a Chicago-based actress who will be opening up a Children’s Theater Company this fall.

Our talk was sparked by the release of Sho Baraka’s Talented Xth album (which hit #3 on iTunes’ Hip Hop/Rap charts yesterday) and his “Jim Crow” song that uses the “n-word” and “b-word” – something that surprises and shocks people given Sho’s past affiliation with one of  Christian hip hop’s most visible record labels.

Our hour long conversation covers:

  • The “Jim Crow” song and its “controversial” language
  • Whether or not Christians (particularly rappers) can use the “n-word” and “b-word” in their lyrics
  • How music like this can motivate others toward positive action
  • How this type of music compares to hip hop pushed in mainstream media
  • What happens when marriages between Christians get strained
  • Whether or not music by Christians that uses strong language should carry parental warnings or offer “clean” alternative versions

NOTE: It’s challenging to talk about these issues (particularly which terms are okay and which are not) without using the actual language.

So heads up that the “n-word” and “b-word” are spoken in this video.

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Sketch the Journalist is a freelance hip-hop writer living in the thriving country metropolis of Cut-N-Shoot, Texas. Down with gospel rap since Stephen Wiley’s “Bible Break” in 1986, he has chewed, reviewed, and interviewed most of Christian hip-hop’s major players. Sketch holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Sam Houston State University and was once an intern at the New York Times Houston Bureau.