While Hip Hop is not an end to salvation, it does provide a similar reciprocity that builds people up, helps its members out and points to Jesus through creative forms within its art. Hence, Hip Hop is like Jesus to many urban post-soulists. So those of us who want urban post-soulists to know Jesus, need to know Hip Hop. What becomes problematic for some Christians is the notion that Jesus would even be in places like a club, rap concert, and/or event that was not centered around some church. Some Christians cannot see beyond the four church walls and the programs that run it. So, finding Jesus in these irregular and nontraditional places will be hard to understand. Still, even in these nontraditional spaces, community is happening. And, if we really believe that God is Alpha and Omega, omnipresent, "all-seeing," might Jesus be in that smoke-filled strip club trying to talk to the inhabitants there?
Daniel White Hodge in his fascinating book The Soul of Hip Hop'. I agree with Hodge that if we look close enough we see something of the presence of Jesus within hip hop. This occurs at two levels.
First, Jesus suffers with the hiphop community, as he does with anyone who is suffering. There are no no-go areas for Jesus. He is suffering with the drug addict. He is weeping for the stripper. He cries for the pimp. Secondly, we see the yearning for Jesus in many of the lyrics of hiphop artists words. One of my favourite rap artists C-Murder says this in one of his songs, 'Lord Help Us':
Our world is hopeless, and we have no where to go/ Our children are hungry, and we can't feed the poor / We are really hopeless / spread some love before, love that and hold in/ Lord I really miss my friends / Lord please help us!
But this is where I would phrase these cries different from Hodge. To say the artists "points us to Jesus" is too confusing. Listening to hip hop awakens in us the cries of the sinner - and through listening we are forced to contemplate how the cross and resurrection meets our deepest needs! It does seem to me though that there is a strong need maturity and discernment when listening to hip hop.