“30′s the new 20, I’m so hot still.” – Jay Z (30-Something)
As Jigga declared that age and maturity were to be embraced by hip hop and it’s listeners, many people followed suit. No longer is an older listener of hip hop being portrayed as the clock-rocking Flavor Flav. Now we see older more mature listeners of hip hop being represented by two of its strongest members, Eminem (41 years old) and Jay Z (44 years old).
The aging of hip hop is not only seen among the secular arena. This as well applies to those into Christian hip hop. Cross Movement has been around for almost twenty years. It has been 10 years since Lecrae has released his first studio album. Hip hop concerts were only considered for youth for many years but now you see the more mature 20 and 30 somethings showing up and enjoying the different artists. There are Christian hip hop albums now that have as much or more theological depth than many Christian books today.
The Difference of Aging and Maturing
In “30-something” Jay Z mentions how with his age he is changing as a person. He mentions that he knows the right car to buy but he’s grown enough not to put rims on it. He says he doesn’t have to buy the “bright watch but the right watch” which is implying he isn’t buying shiny, blinging watches anymore, now he is finding the expensive classy ones. Most of the illustrations he begins with are financial and material, eventually moving towards street life with snitching and murder.
What we see though is an attempt to say that he has grown and matured past certain stages of life that many other guys embrace. It is interesting how the areas of growth listed are rather typical of someone who does not know Christ. It’s not much of a surprise that growth and maturity are defined by how money is spent and the styles of things you buy according to the song. The question we must begin wondering for those of us who have been influenced by hip hop culture is as Christians, how do we not only age but mature as believers in Christ?
What is Needed
For the urban, hip-hop head who listens to Piper, Pac, and Poetry, there is one thing that will keep us growing well into our 30′s and on. It’s something that is needed now more than ever. That is the pastor.
One of the most beautiful public posts I have read in recent months would have to be Thabiti Anyabwile’s, “Some Friendly Pastoral Thoughts for My Friends in the Arts” on The Front Porch. A pastor takes a moment to give some wise words to guys who are in the arts out of love and concern. The post reminded me of something that is needed for all of us. Pastoral words. This isn’t simply rappers and others into the arts, this applies to all believers. The concern though for many believers into the Christian hip hop movement is what will ensure maturity and growth to go with the aging.
Am I saying our iPods should simply be full of Thabiti and HB Charles and that’ll cement our maturity and growth throughout the years? Not exactly. Those are great guys to listen to but those guys would even say you need the local pastor. We need to be plugging into local churches and coming under the authority of local church pastor’s who can speak into our lives. It is having the relationships with guys in YOUR community like the TC Taylor’s or Jamaal Williams’ who are pastors in my own life. Find a TC Taylor. Find a Jamaal Williams. Find a pastor who can shepherd you throughout your 20′s, 30′s and so on. Women, dig into a relationship with his wife. Get to know him and his family. These relationships can be the richest.
Maturing, Not Just Aging
What will happen won’t simply be aging; it will be maturing. You want to be married with a family one day? Watch how he leads his family. Watch how he relates with his wife. Watch how he interacts with his children. You want to get a certain job? Talk to your pastor and he can at least give you guidance in the process. Pastors aren’t perfect. They are all flawed and need daily grace from our father like anyone else. But in the same token, if it is a man in the word of God, then they can be helpful and protect you from wolves and other dangers that may come along.
So as for Mr. Carter, he has grown up in many ways since his famous song. He has gotten married and has a child. But I will say that one of the important things he really needs in his life is something you can have just by taking the time to build the relationship, and that is by having a local pastor active in your life. And that will be what helps those of us cultured within hip hop to not only age, but to mature.
Do you have a pastor who is able to speak into your life?