Last week, Erica Campbell dropped a controversial song from her debut album ‘Help 2.0’. The song is entitled ‘I Luh God’ and it begins:
‘I luh God, do you luh God, what’s wrong wit’chu?’
Listen to the full song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MapyjAtETcY
It is when the beat drops that all hell breaks loose; the beat can only be labelled as a ‘trap’ beat and like all music that breaks the cultural norm, it has divided its gospel listeners.
‘I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven, see now I’m livin’
Campbell isn’t the first to push back against the norm and create a new sound; Kirk Franklin did it, Canton Jones did it and Lecrae didn’t reach the number 1 spot on the Billboard charts by churning out the usual ‘We Fall Down, But We Get Up’ or the ‘Take Me To The King’ sound. The song itself isn’t bad at all; in fact, it’s pretty great. The lyrics are positive, a mixture of her personal experiences and Biblical truths. It speaks of freedom, almost falling into sin but rising above it
(I think.. some of the lyrics are lost and it’s too new to google the lyrics) falling on her knees and being filled with gratitude.
I think my concern with Gospel music is that it is only accessible and listened to by Christians. I’ve become sceptical of generic Gospel music of late; music which rises and falls at particular moments and has been written intentionally to make me feel a certain way. Sometimes I want to dance, sometimes I want to run around and it’s difficult to find a plethora of Gospel music that I can work out to and get dressed to in the mornings, (which doesn’t have a 500-people strong choir coming through at the end) which doesn’t make me want to cry and repent for sins that I am yet to commit.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this sound; I just think we need to have variation. I realised this when my best friend came over to my house (who wasn’t a Christian at the time) asked me not to put on Gospel music because it was too slow and sad. I was confused – I told her that Gospel music was uplifting and she just needed to listen the lyrics. To her it wasn’t; she wanted music to make her feel good, not take her to the depths of her emotions. And to be honest, I got where she was coming from. While there are times where I want to hear a slow song that will bring me to my knees, there are times where I just want to hear Christian lyrics over a tight beat.
Our role as Christians is to share the message with the world but I am aware that trying to become accessible comes at a cost; it is difficult to change our style without changing who we are and moving away from our core. Do we submit to culture or do we shape it? Should we remain conservative and safe or should we adapt our sound in line with our ever-changing world? Gospel music should be distinctive but can it remain distinctive while becoming accessible? Do you want to hear Gospel music in places other than your church? Would it be a bad thing if this song were played in a club and 500 people started singing ‘I luh God, do you luh God?’
Views in the comment section over on Youtube are split. Many have said that they will not be listening to her album or any of her music in the future while others respect her innovative style and her confidence to step out.
What do you think?
Comment, comment, comment! I would really love to hear your views!
Disclaimer: I tried to type up the lyrics I quoted as accurately as possible but I literally couldn’t understand them at times. Please let me know if you hear something different so I can correct it.