Conquest "Radical Interruption"

MrC Live* recently attended, and reported from, the Radical Interruption concert held in the Bronx, New York.

This is his reflection on the experience. Check out the video journal below as well!

Where It All Started

When we think about artists, there are things that come to mind.

There may be a certain look or fashion tendency they are known for. For others, it can be a distinct musical sound or voice. Then for some, only one word applies. In the case of Conquest out of Brooklyn, NY, there is only one word that comes to mind: RADICAL.

Over the years, I have been able to observe the consistency that this brother has showcased. Both through his artistry and high-level bodies of work. For example, who can forget that great album Radical Departure with songs such as “Rage”, “Disposable”, “Cross That Line”, and many others? I remember being at that concert.

Many artists came from all parts of the Northeast to celebrate and minister. Needless to say, Conquest put in work that night at He Is Risen Tabernacle in the Bronx, New York approximately a decade back. This album was my all-time favorite from his catalog for a while.

Then, it was Radical Thinking 2819.

This is another classic album released by Conquest.

A couple of notables from this project are “Radical Thinking” and “Black Hoodie Rap,” along with other great tracks. I had the pleasure of attending this album release as well. This is the project where we started to see the conscious and social activist side of this artist emerge in a greater way. Of course, there was the same energy we expect, along with the great lyricism, powerfully present that evening in 2016.

Radical Interruption

Now that I took an opportunity to touch on those great projects, I would like to tell you a little bit about what happened on March 29th, 2023.

There was great build-up and excitement for the release of Radical Interruption: The Motion Picture.

Many were excited to hear the music that would be released on this album, as well as see the performance(s) for this great event. Fans and some of the “who’s who” of the NYC Christian Rap Scene converged at Harvest Fields Community Church in the Bronx, NY. The anticipation was great, as well as the turnout.

I want to express that the Radical Interruption: The Motion Picture Concert did not disappoint.

The “Motion Picture” theme was executed in excellent fashion. There were great openers such as Cellus Hamilton, Danny Love, and an amazing set from artists like R.Q. Tek, Range The Artist, Paito, and Zaire.

Conquest came with it, wearing his intensity on his sleeve. At the same time, presenting different styles of music with excellence and with pleasant surprise to the audience. At least from where I was sitting.

It was a great showcase of stage performance and cinematography, all in the same experience. That is the best way it can be explained for those who weren’t there.

To listen to this project, definitely visit https://conquest.bandcamp.com/ in order to purchase or stream. He can be followed on social media @radicalonfire

*MrC Live is a member of the FiveTwenty Collective staff and host of the radio show “Live with MrC” which airs on FiveTwenty Radio. He is also the featured DJ alongside DJ Barrcode for the FiveTwenty Collective Show on God’s House of Hip Hop Radio.

FiveTwenty Live Stream: Queer Christianity???

One of the goals of the FiveTwenty Collective platform is to advocate for unity within the Body of CHRIST.

First, and quite often, this involves having difficult dialogues with the intent of bridging any gaps in understanding.

We filter current events and issues concerning The Church through the WORD of GOD. We believe that we have to be willing to take these hard, unpopular looks and have engaging discussions in an effort to galvanize the troops. Doing so provides the Saints with actionable intelligence and CHRIST-like responses to use. Our job is to trumpet GOD’s heart and mind concerning HIS people as it relates to indie, CHRISTian culture. 

We’ve seen an increasing onset of societally unsound doctrines. The FiveTwenty Collective podcast crew (Eric Boston, xeroforhire, and King David tha Vessel),  along with special guest Switch of the That’s Not Christian Podcast, sat down to tackle one of those falsehoods currently making the rounds: “queer Christianity”.

Could it really be possible to love GOD, live Saved, and be in open rebellion to HIS WORD?

The short and direct answer to that question is a resounding “No”.

This live stream was inspired by a video from The Crew’s Hip Hop Corner. In their video Openly Gay Christian rapper Erica Mason Gives advice on dealing with Hate comments from Christians, The Crew shares statements made by the aforementioned artist. Mason stated:

“I understand that their feelings of anger, hurt, and frustration is their problem. Not mine. If a Christian dislikes me because I’m openly queer, that’s their burden to carry. Not mine. I refuse to allow someone’s anger, disgust, frustration, etc to stop me from seeing God clearly and being loved clearly.”

Our conversation centered on the numerous ways the enemy will attempt to get individuals to buy into his lies.

The sin that one chooses causes one to make other choices by default…like being ostracized. Is criticism always criticism?

If we love someone, is it our duty to say something? Do we, as Christians, do a good job of speaking the truth in love? Are we as consistent against other sin issues as we are against homosexuality? Should we be willing to speak the truth, even at the risk of a platform’s popularity?

This conversation covered it all and then some. All respectfully. All biblically. 

It is the job of the Believer to earnestly contend for the Faith that was once delivered unto the Saints (Jude vs 3). It is our prayer that this, and other discussions like it, are fuel to the fire and encouragement to the CHH space and beyond. Especially as we continue to prioritize advancing GOD’s Kingdom, HIS way. 

Christian Hip Hop, Christian Rap, Gospel Hip Hop, etc has been affectionately called “CHH” for a little under a decade but for quite some time the genre has found itself at a crossroads.

I believe the battle amongst the “new school” and the “old school”, Cross Movement versus Reach Records, may be the root of it all and even still that is ONLY the surface.

The increasingly popular Hip Hop subculture for years has been accused of having an undeniable disconnect between The Artist and The Listener. Now depending on generation, background, and overall introduction to the craft this can be considered the perspective of a rapper that never caught fire, hater, or troll. I for one say this is due to an inherent lack of Identity!

Some of this isn’t the fault of any one individual, or group of individuals, due to the reality of just driving down the street in most urban neighborhoods. It’s obvious The Church has hundreds of different approaches. Every other block it’s another building claiming the same God for different reasons, tones, and overall tradition. So while Christ died for everybody it isn’t a secret that many people are dying to redefine what that means and even looks like.

For the sake of time, I won’t make this about sound doctrine (BUT IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE) and the theology that SHOULD BIND US TOGETHER. Unfortunately, those things separate us more than being at a family cookout wearing a red hat and announcing that you’re voting for Donald Trump!

So let’s stay on task and talk ONLY about music and the industry that put Christ’s name first.

Let’s go back to Cross Movement!

Many artists argue whether they would be considered actually first, but no one can argue their IMPACT.

Cross Movement, for many people, was the lighthouse for what is today called CHH.

The artists that formed this powerful movement were not only known for their rugged boom-bap sound or gritty punch lines but mission trips, sermons giving to the poor, discipleship, and more. These guys were the first to put Hip Hop in the Church and The Church in Hip Hop, which is a good thing…. right?!?!?

This is where it gets dicey because this was the beginning of the creation of a duality within a genre that on the surface was very direct and specific.

The duality that lay within the foundation festered within the ranks but, as time went by, it became more and more prevalent that the “C” in front of Hip Hop was up for interpretation rather than considered concrete and supported by SOUND TEACHING… which is a controversial concept within itself.

What does all this mean….? MEECH?!?

Great question!

Now, I’ll answer but let me first start with saying with “All Due Respect”.

This all means that Christian Hip Hop became CHH because the reality is Christian Rap was started by its pioneers to support Hip Hop. The movement was created to support an art form that had been deemed “Godless” by inserting Jesus jargon to validate the craft.

This doesn’t mean edification didn’t happen because it did!

This does not mean the gospel wasn’t taught because it was….. It doesn’t even mean that Christ wasn’t put on the forefront because he was…… BUT in all truth, the means didn’t justify the ends because at the end of the day CHH WAS CREATED TO SAVE HIP HOP NOT SOULS!

The Souls were a byproduct of speaking and teaching the Gospel.

It’s almost impossible to teach and speak of the gospel and somebody not hear the TRUTH and is made free. At the very least, those with ears to hear would have had a seed planted or watered and something happening after that starts a life focused on God. So what I’m trying to say is that, while some amazing things have happened, will happen, and can happen…no matter how many people have been used by God it doesn’t negate an UGLY TRUTH.

The genre that put His name on high was created in hopes to prove Hip Hop could be good!!!

To prove Hip Hop could have a SOUL!!

So these guys that LOVED HIP HOP decided they could prove rap’s importance to storytelling by using the Gospel as the vehicle to drive home their true point: Rap is not evil…. just the artists and their messages are!

Now a disclaimer: Rap is not evil by definition. Culture, environment, content, and its biggest stars SHOW DIFFERENT!

So was it wrong for Christians to start rapping about God? NO

It just doesn’t ignore the TRUE nature; THE GENRE THAT PUT THE “C” in front of Hip Hop might have had an AGENDA.

Truth is, CHH’s “WHY” isn’t the same “WHY” for somebody just rapping about their lives that are dedicated Christ!

As the craft progressed, the appearance of Christianity was less a requirement as it was a gimmick.

The genre thrives with Christian doppelgangers of the world’s favorite stars.

Throughout time, massive debates and exodus caused by the mention of SCRIPTURE or the standards from the Bible have been normal in the CHH arena amongst its audience, biggest stars, and the blogs!

The scrutiny of the audience became a box that no artist wanted to fit in while the co-signs of anti-Christian content pushing rappers became the seal of approval in the genre that once “SAID” they were in the world but not of it…turning around and desperately clamoring for its approval!

Now that I have set the table I can tell you my revelation and why I have to apologize to the genre and its artists in general.

I read a post on twitter from a Christian rapper that explained the difference between Gospel music and rap and CHH. For the first time it actually hit and stuck.

“Christian Artist doesn’t mean Christian by Faith”!

The thought entered my mind harder than a missile fired from close range and did just as much damage as it would if it hit a building. Every notion I had before came tumbling down. See this was a reality that I ignored or couldn’t fathom in the past that now made so much sense. I realized that me, and other Christians, had been the ones with the problem all along.

LeCrae was right about us people!

I’ve assumed the music was FROM the body when it was actually made FOR the body of Christians that loved hip hop but just wanted a little cleaner version of it!

Good doesn’t mean Godly because “good” can still be shrouded in pride of self!

All these thoughts started rushing into my mind. Old conversations with artists that didn’t end well returned to the top of my mind and it all makes so much sense.

THIS WAS WHY…profanity in Christian Hip Hop wasn’t a clean-cut conversation.

This is why an artist can be offended when their audience is judging them based on an assumption of beliefs versus only seeing them for an artist and receiving their art as just that.

Think about it like this, nobody really believes Denzel Washington is a dirty cop or a retired assassin that can kill you with anything in his reach. Nobody is haggling Ben Affleck to protect Gotham because we all know he’s acting and despite the fact that actors take on many personas, and take them very seriously, they are not assumed or held to the standard of those characters after the scene is over or for the sake of a great opportunity to paint a picture…AFTER THE MUSIC STOPS.

This is the disconnect I think that is happening between the listener and its artists.

We don’t understand one another because we entered the entire space wrong and under false pretenses.

  • This explains why an artist will leave the genre and their lifestyle from that point will be played out on social media as someone that may have never adopted the Christian faith despite the fact they once embraced the Christian music scene.
  • This explains why an artist within the genre, that puts Christ in front of Hip Hop, can celebrate Cardi B but will attack a believer that is confused at why a Christian artist is sharing her content and how that is NOT a problem!
  • This is why many “Christian artists” consider success by secular collaborations and mainstream popularity even if their images and messages have to be tweaked.
  • This is how a Hebrew Israelite can be a Christian rapper.
  • This is how racial issues can set the subculture on fire while false teaching and martyred Christians barely make anybody’s “RAP RADAR”.

So with everything being said, I’m not just here to rag on CHH because I actually love the concept and many artists in the culture. Of course (Christian disclaimer whenever a standard is being mentioned) I AM NOT PERFECT or WITHOUT SIN! I am actually writing because I had a revelation and wanted to share a solution to my brothers and sisters in the body as well as to all my dope artists that make music for the Body! (It is a difference and that’s okay)

I am here to end the many fruitless debates and clear the air amongst platforms for the Body, and those in the Body, that are confused to why debates of the best rappers in secular Hip Hop dominate media cycles while Christ centered content is few and far between.

I have devised a solution that will make both sides happy.

For example: let’s be honest, a “Christian Weezy” is sober, doesn’t cuss, still has the long dope dreads and cool clothes – which isn’t a sin – and is safer to listen to than the REAL THING.

Now the argument can be raised that Christian Weezy’s appearance and content can be a stumbling block that may even create a thirst for someone to want the real thing, but that’s an opinion that can be supported by scripture…that’s not what we’re talking about.

This is about ending the fights, animosity, the CHH diss-tracks and sub-tweets, and making us a happy family again.

I honestly just want CHH to be great again and the only way to do so is reintroducing itself to its fans with a quick and easy re-brand.

Put the “C” after the “HH”!

Hip Hop for Christians……or maybe even Christian Bop….like Kidz Bop but for churchy people. This way there is no assumption of anything other than music.

It’s like turning on a song made in the world about sex that is changed a bit for the audience and takes out sex and says “love” or “gushy”…or something close enough to give you a taste but different enough to not satisfy your flesh completely. It’s the safest way to censor sin in a way that legally makes it okay to consume and can be given to children!

I really think by changing the location of this, obviously minor, letter, a lot of confusion can be erased.

I also think this rebrand can be very helpful for those looking for something specific.

This will help us to not think that we have to settle for something vague because it is nothing worse than buying one thing and getting something totally different. This change helps the artist and the listener to understand each other and eradicate unspoken expectations that KILL RELATIONSHIPS!

Putting that “C” where it belongs puts everything in perspective and will help the genre move forward.

This allows the nostalgic listener to understand there are levels to this and not to hold people to unfair standards. As a believer, this also helps us understand that it is people we should be PRAYING for instead of assuming they should be POURING into us.

This kills every supposition and places the focus on the music and not doctrine or theology.

My hope for this is that the adjustment will allow the listener to recognize the differences.

HHC is a working title but I’d love feedback.

There are enough creatives in this space to make this happen.

So when you’re reading this I pray it’s helpful and inspires you.

If you’re an artist that has been accused of denying the faith, just because of the misplacement of a letter, let me be the first one to apologize and encourage you. Allow me to tell you that, as great as the genre is, Christ in your life is even greater and I pray you accept Him. The truth is, we shouldn’t force someone to be something just because of their profession and we shouldn’t just assume people are something either.

That’s dangerous and unfair.

In closing, let’s keep having these discussions in the right forum so that we can gain understanding and build. Listen HHC has a dope ring to it and I think it would really catch and it’s totally free.

This is my gift to the genre!

Enjoy,
– The Listener and writer that just happens to be Christian.