The Attributes of God
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I am woefully underqualified, or perhaps just plain unqualified, to evaluate rap music. Whatever I say on the subject, at least as it pertains to the beats and the rhythms and any other component that makes rap what it is, should be taken with a grain of salt. Or two. Maybe even three.
However, even if I am unqualified to speak of the music as music, I can at least comment on the lyrical content and on my personal feelings toward an album. And with the full weight of my complete lack of qualification I say that Shai Linne’s new album The Attributes of God is the best rap album I’ve heard; at least, it’s definitely my favorite.
As you may have surmised from the title, this is an album that speaks of God’s attributes. In a statement in the liner notes, Shai writes this:
In releasing this music, I'm hoping for something that is humanly impossible. My hope is that this collection of songs would point beyond themselves to the God who is described in them. That as His character as revealed in Exodus 33:18 - 34:14 is expounded through rhythmic poetry, complex rhyme schemes, melody, harmony and instrumentation --the heart of the listener would be compelled to exalt God and to love and trust and adore Him. To the extent that I have failed in this attempt, I am solely to blame. To the extent that I have succeeded, all of the credit goes to God. Soli Deo Gloria!
This is a noble goal and certainly a brave one. And what’s more, I think he has succeded. By combining that rhythmic poetry along with the rhymes, melodies, harmonies and instrumentations, he has crafted an album that speaks powerfully of the attributes and character of God. It is an album not of personal experiences with God, but rather an album that delights in the God who is. He writes of God’s glory, goodness, sovereignty, holiness, wrath and patience and love and faithfulness and so on.
So how does someone go about writing a song that delights in God’s wrath? Here is how Shai did it:
God's wrath is a perfection for which He should be adored. / A passion for this message: yes it needs to be restored / He has holy reflexes towards the evil / He abhors Cats who don't respect Him will receive His lethal sword / The mass prefers the pleasures that sin easily affords / Our blasphemous affections are the reason we're at war / We should be in awe, His sweetness should keep us floored / Sin's radical infection is the reason we get bored / Repeatedly we snore, He's frequently ignored / We explore evil lusts leaving us greedy for more / The Master's recollection of our evil He records / We have zero protection because He is keeping score / It's bad for every section, there's no passing His inspection / Because we're lacking the perfection that we need to be secure / Everlasting dissection: the unbeliever's reward / Disaster for rejection of the truth--Jesus is Lord!
Chorus God is an all-consuming fire / Burning away all false desires / soon He's gonna burn it away, the holy furnace will blaze / Eternal the days, Somebody come on / They're longing for mountains and rocks to be falling / Please don't refuse the One who's calling you / He's calling you, He's warning you / Whatcha gonna do? Somebody come on
Where this album is so successful, at least in my books, is in both the depth and the width of the lyrics. Shai covers a wide variety of topics and he does so by using thousands and thousands of words. As a medium, rap allows a vast amount of content, at least when compared to a rock or pop song. Some of the songs work 1,000 words into 4 or 5 minutes. Those words simply speak of who God is and, at times, of what he has done.
A couple of weeks ago I had spent the week working on a sermon and, on Sunday morning, was weary and discouraged. On the way to church I turned on this album and just soaked in the words. It was genuinely refreshing, just to hear about the God I was seeking to serve that day. It struck me that it was not the artist or the music that refreshed me, but the subject of it all.
Earlier this year I wrote about the strange phenomenon of white middle-aged pastors listening to rap music. I guess I pretty much fall into that category. I feel like as much of a poser as the next white middle-aged guy. But I can’t deny that I enjoy this music and have benefited from it. If I was at all qualified to judge it, I’d give it 2 thumbs up or 5 stars or whatever other measure would set it apart. As it stands, all I can say is that this is my new favorite rap album and one that has made a significant impact in the 3 or 4 weeks I’ve been listening to it.
If you scroll back up, you’ll find an interview I did with Shai just a few days ago. Or by clicking below you can see the trailer for the album. And, of course, if you’d like to buy it, you can visit Amazon (where it’s on sale for just $8.99).