Nipsey Hussle and The Tupac Complex
A rapper who went by the name of "Nipsey Hussle" was gunned down recently. My condolences go out to his family and loved ones. I didn't want to speak on the issue for several reasons: I didn't know him, personally. I wanted to be respectful of the situation. I don't clout chase for likes and views by name dropping or discussing hot topics. Also, I'm very selective about my conversations and sharing my opinions. I always ask myself... Is this conversation going to build up someone or tear them down? Is sharing my perspective going to strengthen this relationship or separate us, and is it worth it? That said, the goal of this blog is not to scrutinize Nipsey Hussle, but to shed light on a greater issue, in hopes of building up. I'll have to tackle some tough areas first, but stick with me.
When I saw that Nipsey Hussle was killed, the main thing that stood out to me was how much he was being heralded by his fans. It wasn't only for his music though. He was mostly being championed for his philanthropic efforts, social activism, and community outreach. Nipsey seemed to have a lot of positive things on his mind and was working actively to improve the conditions of his people. I remember Nipsey from when I used to listen to rap, but I didn't really listen to him. Apparently, he had blown up a lot more since I got out of the rap game in late 2012. So, after all of the upstanding feedback and mourning, I listened to some of his music. It was the usual rap message, with a few insightful or positive messages sprinkled here and there. After that, I shrugged and though to myself: Ahh, okay. This is another Tupac situation.
The late Tupac is venerated in the black community. In fact, I could make the argument that he might be most glorified figure in the black community post-civil rights era and pre-Barack and Michelle Obama. Even before I was saved, this reverent deification of Pac always confuse me. It baffled me how Tupac could have an album with 12 songs talking about "riding on his enemies" and sleeping with Biggie's wife, but then have 2 songs about "Dear Mamma" or "Changes" and be considered a hero. Don't get me wrong, I used to love his music, but I never regarded him as a hero or role model. Nipsey's death inspired me to think more on this, and I believe I have insight into why people feel this way.
| Real Recognize Real |
Tupac and Nipsey represent struggle. This is why people can relate. Everyone has an internal struggle of good and evil because all of us are flawed in some way. When someone hears a Tupac or Nipsey song that's insightful, thought provoking, or "real," people don't just hear it, they feel it. Much of the reason why they feel it because they've already felt it. When people see these rappers giving back to the community, people see the "good" that's in them. They understand that Tupac and Nipsey may have have grown up rough. They may have lived the gang life. They may be products of their environment. They are telling their story and deep down, despite the circumstances, the fans believe they are good at heart.
In the same manner, when Tupac or Nipsey write something that is inspired by anger, or frustration, or sinful pleasures, people feel that too. Guess what...sometimes, we do get upset. Sometimes, it does feel good to see a chick toss it up. Sometimes, we do want to sip some Hennesseyyyy and ride our enemieeeees! It's the idea that we are all human and go through stuff. We all have a myriad of emotions, and people love music that connects to these emotions. So when a fan reflects on the life of a Tupac or Nipsey, they look at the big picture and conclude: "I know he had some issues. He wasn't perfect, but neither am I. Overall, he had some good in him and was real, so he's alright in my book and I know he's looking down from heaven." That seems right on the surface, but I have a problem with that.
| Work Work Work Work Work |
The problem I have is that people don't have a revelation of the gospel. Most people have a works-based mentality that is ingrained in them pretty much from birth. It's reinforced in grade school, in the workplace, in dating, and pretty much in every walk of life. If you do good, you get good back. If you do bad, you get bad back. If you do bad, just do enough good to balance it out. To a human mind, it makes perfect sense, but we've got to look deeper.
The danger with the works mentality is that it has led many to believe that as long as they do more good in the world than bad, then they'll make it to heaven. This is the reason why people accept, and even venerate, those who do bad one day and then good the next. They don't believe it's possible for someone to live a righteous life. So, they honor the authenticity, the passion, and the transparency of someone who is real enough to show you all of them, whether it's the good, the bad or the ugly.
It's a defeated and a settling mentality. It's a concession that it doesn't get any better than this. It's like a woman staying with a man who beats her. As long as he brings her flowers every now and then, and makes love to her, they're good. She doesn't believe there is a world outside of an abusive man, and if she does, she doesn't think that she's worthy of it. The problem is that there is no revelation of victory.
| Victory |
The victory that I'm speaking about is the redeeming power of Jesus Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus defeated death and rose with all power in His hands. Then, He gave that same power to those who believe in Him:
Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
So why did He give us this power? What is the purpose? The purpose of this power is for us to live transformed lives. It's the power to love, to be selfless, to serve, to be holy, and to perform the works that Jesus did when he walked the earth. It's true that all of us have issues. However, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to live righteous lives through Christ. What am I really saying?
I am not saying that the moment someone becomes a Christian they will start floating on air. I'm simply saying that there is victory at the cross. It's possible to be delivered. It's possible to live a life that is pleasing to God. It's possible to reject our sinful qualities and aspire to live a Godly life. It's possible to shift from being a victim to a victor. There is hope!
| Conclusion |
This writing is not really about Nipsey or Tupac. These two men are no better or worse than any one of us. This writing is about people judging righteousness and our eternal resting place based off of good or bad works. R. Kelly is a pedophile, so when he dies, I won't say R.I.P. to him, but I will say R.I.P. Pac because he made "I Ain't Mad at Cha." It's not about that. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to a holy God. Good works do not save us or make us a good person. Truth be told, there's no such thing as a good person without Christ.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Please understand that we have a Savior, who is able to deliver us from the bondage of sin and make us righteous. Righteous simply means to be in right-standing with God, and it's the righteousness of Jesus that makes someone justified. I could write a book about all the things the LORD has delivered me from: fornication, pornography, drunkenness, lying, cheating, clubbing, rage, cynicism, narcissism, and the list goes on. He's still delivering me from things even today. I have not arrived, but I've walked with the LORD enough to know that it's possible to live a victorious life in Christ Jesus and bare the fruits of the Spirit.
It is very dangerous to place people in heaven or hell based on their works, how they made us feel, or our own self-righteous scale of good and evil. Only God knows who is Resting In Peace and who's not. What he does give us, though, is the Bible, which tells us how to get to heaven or hell. A lot of times people pronounce sainthood over the dead because they want to justify themselves. Man desires to be justified outside of Christ, but it's just not possible.
I have no real insight into what relationship Nipsey or Tupac had with Christ. I just pray that those of us who are still in the land of the living would understand that it's not doing more good than bad that makes someone a good person, but instead, it is the finished work of Jesus Christ. Be blessed.