Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats

Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats: Churches and Hip-Hop—A Basic Guide to Key Issues

The CERCL Writing Collective
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats
    Book Description:

    What is hip-hop, and how does it impact the Black Church? How do Black Churches think about hip-hop? How does it integrate hip-hop? How do these different, yet deeply interrelated communities think about the key topics of modern life—be it gender, sex, race, or globalization? These questions and more are the concern of the CERCL Writing Collective, under the mentorship of Anthony Pinn. In this innovative project, ten individuals write as one voice to illuminate the ways that hip-hop and the Black Church agree, disagree, and inform each other on key topics. This book grows out of the popular religion and hip-hop course, soon to be offered as an open enrollment online course, offered at Rice University by Anthony Pinn and Bernard ‘Bun B’ Freeman. Like the course, the book offers engaging insights into one of today’s most important musical genres and reflects on its broad cultural impact.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8949-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Getting Started
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    This project grows out of a commitment to rethinking interactions between institutions of higher learning and the larger communities in which they find themselves. For the authors of this book, this rethinking centered on Rice University and the larger Houston community, and conversation concerning the challenges and benefits of such interaction took place within an experimental undergraduate course devoted to the topic of religion and hip-hop.

    This class involved collaboration between the Religious Studies Department and the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. CERCL (pronounced “Circle”), as the center is called, has as its core mission the development and...

  4. 1 Moments in the History of Black Churches and Hip-Hop
    (pp. 1-38)

    History is a story—a story of a people, a story of ideas, of events. History isa narrative about an individual or a group of people’s ways of thinking and being in the world. Who a person or a people think they are is their sense of identity. In essence, identity is a statement that says, “This is who I am!,” and it is expressed in any number of ways—through dress, language, body movements, and hair. Based on their identity, a people exercise their sense of agency.¹ That is, they takeactions to shape or construct their social,...

  5. 2 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, and the Body
    (pp. 39-54)

    So far, we have discussed moments in the history of black Christian communities and hip-hop. We also suggested that black churches and hip-hop wrestle with issues of identity. In other words, black churches and hip-hop seek self-definition in the face of historical hardships and oppressive circumstances that play out in and through black bodies. Because of racism and other forms of discrimination, black bodies have been marked as dangerous, bad, and less than beautiful; hip-hop and black churches make an effort to present black bodies in more uplifting ways. For instance, African Americans have used clothes in churches and through...

  6. 3 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, Race, and Ethnicity
    (pp. 55-80)

    In the previous chapter, we discussed how certain societal categories came to bear on the bodies of African Americans, and how members of black churches and hip-hop communities responded to these categories through how they dress. In this chapter, we focus our attention on one of those categories: race. Race, by definition, isa social construct focused on the color of one’s skin that has no biological or genetic basis.¹ We are as many colors as we can imagine, but those colors do not actually offer any biological reason or means of distinguishing between different groups of people. In short,...

  7. 4 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, and Poverty
    (pp. 81-106)

    Some black Christians have demonstrated a limited understanding of the diverse ways in which members of the hip-hop community have addressed poverty in the United States. Such narrow thinking includes the rhetoric of figures such as G. Craige Lewis, who castigated hip-hop music for promoting materialism and self-indulgence.¹ Furthermore, some black ministers have blamed the hip-hop community for influencing (and enhancing) the cycle of poverty within minority communities. Meanwhile, Christian rappers like Shai Linne blast many church leaders for speaking on or boasting about their material wealth. And “secular” artists have not held back either. For example, in his rap...

  8. 5 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, and Gender
    (pp. 107-122)

    This chapter examines the concept of gender as cast within hip-hop culture and the Black Church. It is not to be confused with the chapter on sexuality; a few important distinctions are necessary here. Gender and sexuality are distinct social and embodied realities, which are linked but nonetheless different categories of human life. Sexuality is often related to human anatomy, reproductive organs, and the body’s capacity to both give and receive physical pleasure. Gender isa social construct highlighted as standards and norms for appropriate(read “acceptable”)male and female behaviors and attitudes. Issues of gender are often associated with...

  9. 6 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, and Sexuality
    (pp. 123-138)

    In this chapter, we explore the issue of sex and sexuality in black churches and hip-hop culture (particularly rap music). For the purposes of this book, we define sex asthe many ways humans use their bodies to give and receive physical pleasure, usually through their genitals. Sexuality isthe process of making sense of what is the proper way to handle the body’s ability to give and receive physical pleasure. In other words, sex involves the act of “doing it,” and sexuality is how we make sense of theright(or appropriate) ways of “doing it.” Sex and sexuality...

  10. 7 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, and Ethics
    (pp. 139-160)

    In previous chapters, we gave attention to particular issues and concerns that join and (at times) separate hip-hop and black churches. Undergirding each chapter is an underlying question of what we should do or how we should behave in the world in light of the issue—race, sex(uality), and so on—at hand. This chapter gives explicit attention to behavior by exploring various ethical viewpoints that have emerged in hip-hop and black churches as they attempt to “do the right thing.” We have chosen to think through certain ethical perspectives with an eye on how they interact with different social...

  11. 8 Black Churches, Hip-Hop, and Globalization
    (pp. 161-180)

    Overall, the four sections of this chapter seek to unpack the global expansion of both the black church and hip-hop. The first section provides a comprehensive definition of globalization. The second section treats French hip-hop as a case analysis in that this cultural form will be explored in detail with the goal of making generalizations concerning the globalization of hip-hop culture. The third section explores globalization of the Black Church through the lens of African American foreign mission activity in Africa in general and West Africa in particular, and this brings the chapter full circle back to French hip-hop. Ultimately,...

  12. 9 A Relationship between Black Churches and Hip Hop?
    (pp. 181-196)

    While we have presented the perspectives of black churches and hip-hop, mostly in the form of rap music, on a variety of timely issues, we have not brought them into formal conversation. That is, we have provided an introductory sense of how both respond to these issues, but we have not done this in an explicitly comparative way. Our goal has been to provide useful information that readers might then use to bring hip-hop and Christian religious communities together within their own contexts, to whatever extent they deem useful. This book, in that sense, is a guide—a source of...

  13. 10 The Cipher
    (pp. 197-216)

    In hip-hop, the cipher is a locale where artists of various backgrounds, social concerns, training, and skills come together in a linguistic battle of wit and passion, where respect is awarded for having the courage to speak up and for having used that moment to learn, entertain, and engage one another on equal footing. The cipher, in hip-hop, is where known and unknown artists congregate around an impromptu circle—sometimes on street corners, sometimes in more “sanctioned” spaces—and the participants and viewers are forced to listen and be heard.

    The topics of active listening and being heard direct us...

  14. CERCL Writing Collective Members
    (pp. 217-224)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 225-232)
  16. References
    (pp. 233-244)
  17. Index
    (pp. 245-253)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-254)