Hip Hop’s Most Blasphemous Moments
Blasphemy – the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity.
In light of the alternate cover images for Kanye West‘s upcoming Yeezus album, and the requisite (although relatively light) speculation and controversy, it might help to place things into perspective. This is hip-hop, a music and culture born of the streets, which has always flown in the face of the things the predominant society holds dear – including religion. To prove that point, here are some of the most blasphemous moments (with special emphasis on the last 10 years) in hip-hop culture.
Game’s Jesus Piece album
In interviews, Game made it clear that it was his intent not to disrespect Christianity (and noted that he attends church and tithes regularly), but to show the struggle between trying to live up to Christian principles and enjoying life to the fullest. Despite intent, featuring an album cover that depicts Jesus as a member of the infamous Bloods gang and a song that contains the lytic, “Halle-motherf***in’-lujah” will probably mean controversy.
Jay-Z on “Empire State of Mind”
Of course, Jay-Z is no stranger to this type of scrutiny. Long rumored to be either a devil-worshiper, member of the Illuminati, or Freemason, his lyrics in the ubiquitous hit did nothing but fan the flames.
“Hail Mary to the city, you’re a virgin
And Jesus can’t save you, life starts when the church ends”
Watch The Throne’s “No Church In The Wild”
“Human beings in a mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer,
That don’t believe in anything?”
That unavoidable, Frank Ocean-assisted chorus sets the stage for lyrics that proclaim worship and devotion only to “Desire” and the following lines:
“Jesus was a carpenter
Yeezy he made beats
Hova flow the Holy Ghost
Get the hell up out ya seats… Preach.”
Joe Budden “If I Die Tomorrow”
Now if you’ve never heard this song, the title might evoke images of a thug fantasy that ends in a blaze of glory. Don’t be fooled, this is actually quite an interesting, honest, and well-done take on Joe Budden‘s life up to that point (so honest, that it includes the refrain “I don’t wanna die tomorrow”).
He makes this list for the following line.
“… I speak my mind
I roll a blunt with God, know he smoke somethin’ better than any weed you can find
So pass that Jesus
He gotta get high to think of all these diseases
that put us right where He is”
God has a drug habit now? I don’t even know how I feel about typing that…
Most of Nas’s Career
All he needs is one mic… and all it took was one verse from one Nasir Jones back in 1992 to garner a buzz and mystique most rappers would kill for to this day. That verse, on Main Source’s “Live At The Barbecue” included a now-infamous line:
“When I was twelve
I went to Hell for snuffin’ Jesus” – Nas (guest verse), “Live At The Barbecue”
The artist who calls himself God’s Son once claimed responsibility for the death of the Son of God. Of course, he was just getting started…
“I carry the cross
If Virgin Mary had an abortion
I’d still be carried in the chariots
By stampeding horses…” – Nas, “The Cross”
…and that’s just the chorus! Somehow, Nas seems to avoid all of the backlash of his contemporaries (e.g. Kanye, Jay-Z) for these controversial lyrics.
But these guys are some of the industry’s brightest stars, and they continue to sell records and tickets by the boatload. Just be sure to avoid the lightning if you’re in the crowd.