The Compartmentalist

boxes in the warehouse of my mind...I open them, and write what I find.

The Sunday Word: Chuuuuuch…Music and the Lord

                    

Today’s post brings a little controversy. It seems that our good friend and Maybach Music Group artist Meek Mill has managed to get himself in a bit of hot water over his latest single, “Amen.” The general idea of the track is that Meek thanks God for several things that Christians are encouraged to steer clear of.

Pastor Jomo Johnson, of Philadelphia’s Open Air Church, gets after the hometown boy, who apparently is an Atheist, for bringing such a negative connotation to the Almighty, and calls for boycotting and all that. More details on the feud can be found here (shoutouts to allhiphop.com).

Now, here’s the thing: the song’s content, like any pop song that invokes faith-related comparisons, is a bit sacrilegious, but the actual back beat reveals it to be a sampled track. My music heads might have picked up on this one right off, but in case you missed it, here’s Meek’s track (NSFW, for language):

And the sampled track, “Minute by Minute,” comes from The Doobie Brothers, most recognized by Michael McDonald:

The piano you hear at the beginning of “Minute by Minute” definitely makes one think of church (at least for some of us). Whether that’s where McDonald got his inspiration from is unknown, but 1/4 of the “White Boys with Soul” (Bobby Caldwell and Hall & Oates round it out) definitely had the spirit in him on this one, even if it was a simple track about hanging on to a girl that wasn’t worth the wait.

The fine line between music and religion, what’s good music, what’s good “church music,” and so on, has been ruffling the feathers in the old church ladies’ hats for as long as I can remember. At what point do you stop taking music for what it is — a lyrical interpretation of the view of the world we see in our minds — and dissecting the message (and the person) to the point where it doesn’t become enjoyable?

Personally, I don’t think Meek Mill is all that great of an artist, from a lyrical standpoint. And the message of the song isn’t necessarily helping his cause. But, I enjoy the instrumental aspect of “Amen,” and the historical music nod that comes with it. As much as I love music, I’m not influenced by the lyrics I hear; however, I’m not naive enough to think that you can just tell every kid that their favorite rapper’s words isn’t always the best way to be, and they’ll figure it out. But, you CAN tell them that expressing themselves through music is a wonderful thing, and that it might not sit well with some.

The Church, in whatever interpretation one chooses to believe, may get their pews in a bunch when someone takes an aspect of their faith in vain, but no part of life can claim exception from musical expression, regardless of how socially uncouth it may be. That’s the lovely thing about freedom of speech — we all want it, usually at the same time we’re stifling someone else’s.

Let the church say, “Amen.” And love him anyway. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?

- The Compartmentalist