Ever since the mainstream success of Switchfoot, the task of the christian Artist has been publicly re-defined from ‘Art for the Church’, to ‘Art from the Church, to the World‘. From the earlier definition the purpose of the Christian artist was in essence narrowly prescribed as preaching to the already converted and maybe those on the margins.
The likes of ‘spzrkt’ (pronuouced, Spazzy Rocket because vowels are soo last season) are choosing to head into the jungle of the mainstream to ply their trade but holding onto faith whilst doing it. He even went as far as making a PR move of writing a break up letter to the CHH (Christian Hip Hop) community. Imade wrote a piece a while ago with the title, “Artists that should get kicked out of CHH”, some of those listed have subsequently kicked themselves out of the sub-genre. Theory Hazit for example has bolted from the Humble Beast stable – a Christian indie label responsible for the likes of Propaganda. Not much was said about the exit, although the music that Theory Hazit has made since then has not be so much explicitly christian since then and some of his lyrics has point to some personal tensions with his christian rap ‘label’.
Spzrkt’s style, I think should be classified as AltnB (Alternative RnB) although, I’m not sure the man himself would agree with the label. The artists personifies the tension among Christians about their mission in society, between evangelization which all agree must be done and the ‘social action’ role that music plays as a culture-shaping tool. Our part in the overall culture is always a tension between the prophetic seperatism and as ‘leavens’ that affect the whole lump but at the expense of being changed as well. Pour out some liquour for the dearly departed. #Jahaziel.
The music itself is undoubtedly very good and you definitely see progression from his 2014 album (Bonfire) to his latest efforts with Sango (a Soulection associate). The man himself remains a christian and in a sense those who are ready to publicly affirm faith in the face of intense criticism can be expected to remain in comparison to those who harbour doubts in a christian bubble…but then again, there is another list of those who have remained publicly ambiguous who have gone in the other direction.
If signs of whats to come is a butt naked Rihanna twerking in the face of Aubrey Graham and monsieurs Miguel, ‘the weeknd’ and Frank Ocean in competition to see who can out-creep the other. Then surely the culture is headed in the wrong direction and a Christian alternative cannot be provided as a side-dish. Peep this from an interview with Okayplayer.
A lot of people talk about what’s missing in R&B and how it used to make you want to fall in love. I think that’s because back in the glory days, men were singing to women about all the feelings they had for her, and the men today widely sing about having no feelings at all. Or, if it was “I messed up, I’m begging you to stay,” now it’s “I don’t give a fuck, I’ll get her friend next.” So, in the songs you’ve mentioned, my story is about bringing respect back to the forefront of our minds.
Who cares about my opinion anyway, go ahead and listen to the music and decide for yourself. To get to know spzrkt, listen below and also check out his mixtape with Sango – “Hours Spent Loving You“.