Hip-hop culture is experiencing a sea change today that has implications for evangelism, worship, and spiritual practices. Yet Christians have often failed to interpret this culture with sensitivity. Sociologist, preacher, pop-culture expert, and DJ Ralph Watkins understands that while there is room for a critique of mainstream hip-hop and culture, by listening more intently to the music's story listeners can hear a prophet crying out, sharing the pain of a generation that feels as though it hasn't been heard. His accessible, balanced engagement reveals what is inherently good and redeeming in hip-hop and rap music and uses that culture as a lens to open up the power of the Bible for ministry to a generation.
Ralph Basui Watkins (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is associate professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and the author of several books, including From Jay-Z to Jesus and The Gospel Remix. He previously was assistant dean of the African American church studies program and associate professor of society, religion, and Africana studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.
From Gil-Scott Herron, Ice-T, DMX, Lil Kim, Mos Def, and Lauryn Hill to Christology, soteriology, and the role of the church, Hip-Hop Redemption is a brilliant read! Ralph Watkins's gifts as a socio-theologian and hip-hop devotee come together in a way that redeems an essential dialogue for engaging realities of the church and today's urbanized and global society.
Ronald E. Peters,
President, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta
Hip-hop deserves the theological interpretation that Watkins provides. This book should have a wide readership.
James H. Cone,
Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary
Watkins takes the reader on an allegorical theological journey into the heart of hip-hop culture and challenges us to examine the culture not just from the surface--with all its seemingly blasphemous aesthetics--but from a deeper theological vantage point asking this question: Where does God show up and speak within and through hip-hop culture? This read is for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of not only theology and culture but also how hip-hop's redemptive value is shown in its style, prose, syntax, and spirituality. Watkins's text is a valuable addition to the growing scholarship in the field of hip-hop theological study.
Daniel White Hodge,
Lecturing Professor of Religion and Culture, California State University, Northridge; author of The Soul of Hip-Hop: Rims, Timbs, and a Cultural Theology
Ralph Basui Watkins remixes hip-hop history from the inside--as a DJ and a scholar--with deep love and respect for the music. He engages in dual listening, connecting the plaintive raps of DMX and Common with the biblical tradition. Watkins also hears women calling hip-hop to a higher standard in the music of Lauryn Hill. Hip-Hop Redemption refreshed my playlist and my spirit. Like Grandmaster Flash, Watkins delivers 'The Message.'
Director, Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture, Pepperdine University
American Christians easily find redemptive themes in the music of Bob Dylan and U2. What Ralph Watkins provides are the resources for Christians to understand that if all truth is God's truth, then God can also be found in the world of hip-hop. I hope Hip-Hop Redemption will ignite needed conversations about the ways in which this music and movement can be used to understand the complex urban narratives in America so that the gospel can reach all communities for Christ.
Anthony B. Bradley,
Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics, The King's College
Watkins (From Jay-Z to Jesus), an associate professor of society, religion, and Africana studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., opens the door and eardrum to a deep theological exegesis of the music and culture of hip-hop. Under the beat and the rhyme he hears reflection of, and about, life for African-American youth in the city. Hip-hop is the child of the blues as well, he asserts, springing from the same soul-deep need as the blues, a need to lament and to be frank. Watkins is no apologist, however, for the "sexism, misogyny, and capitalistic greed" that is also a part of hip-hop culture. He calls that out even as he affirms the directness and authenticity of what is said in and by the music. Anyone who wants to know why hip-hop is so popular should read this brilliant analysis. (Oct.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.