I am a Christian who listens to gospel music and hip hop/rap music equally. Being fortunate enough to see music from both sides of the paradigm has allowed me to form an unique perspective. Hopefully, I can bridge the gap between the gospel generation and the hip-hop generation.
The two genres have many of the same elements as it refers to production techniques. In studio, it can be sometimes difficult to decipher the difference between hip-hop and gospel music. In fact, Kirk Franklin was one of the first artist to trestle gospel music and hip-hop music. Which lead to an entirely new era of gospel artist.
Gospel musicians such as James Fortune, Lecrae, and Chance The Rapper have completely shifted the paradigm in an attempt to attract a more youthful audience. In 1997, teenybopper pop, R&B, and hip-hop dominated the charts, but the contagious spirit of “Stomp” made it undeniable. MTV, then the acting thermometer of youth culture, made it the first gospel record to enter the channel on heavy rotation. The uncool had suddenly become cool. But it wasn’t just the aesthetic that captured our attention.
Now fast forward to 2017, the new era of gospel music has manufactured its own audience. Virtually turning anyone that sang in a church choir a star over night. Grammy nominated artist James Fortune went from being homeless to the top of the charts in Gospel music.
The 32-year-old Fortune and his ensemble called F.I.Y.A (Free In Yahweh’s Abundance) recently released their fourth album “Identity,” which debuted in the top spot on Billboard’s Gospel, Christian and Independent album charts. He is a rising a star in the genre and has opened concerts for some of gospel’s best, including Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond.
However, music parishioners worldwide just cannot seem to dub gospel music as “real music.” James Fortune’s first week album statistics are exponentially lower than that of Jay-Z. Jay-Z’s album sold 175,000 units in the first week, whereas James Fortune sold only 3,000 units. How does selling 3,000 units equate to be #1 on the gospel charts? We’ve got to do better, but first we must know our history.
In the mid-1800s two men developed a new kind of religious music that was to become today’s Gospel music. The two men were famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody and his music director and soloist, Ira D. Sankey, known as the “Sweet Singer.” Since then several strides have been taken however the music has gotten away from it traditional nature.
James Fortune #1 album truly rivals Jay-Z’s #1 album. The lyricism and silver lining allow for the project to be played in the card room to the board room. A message that can be interpreted from Bankhead to Buckhead. Which leads me to believe that we should extinguish the concept of music category. If a particular song evokes emotion and gets you on your feet it should be considered a banger regardless of genre. There’s nothing wrong with gospel music, y’all just need to get with the program.
Let us know how you feel about this music conversation. Join the conversation via Twitter @Joy105com we would love to hear from you.
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