Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Kirk Franklin Defends ‘Trap Gospel’, Erica Campbell on NPR

Kirk Franklin backstage at the 2014 Stellar Awards at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee
Kirk Franklin backstage at the 2014 Stellar Awards at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee

*Erica Campbell ventured into “trap gospel” with her single “I Luh God” and all hell has broken loose in the church.

NPR featured a segment about this new genre of gospel – taken directly from hip hop’s southern-fried branch of “trap music” – and how it’s rubbing gospel purists the wrong way.

Kirk Franklin, whose had the church riled up in the 90s with his new urban-heavy beats, was asked to comment on Campbell’s track, produced by her husband Warryn Campbell.

NPR’s ARUN RATH: What were your thoughts when you first heard it?

FRANKLIN: I just commend her efforts, man. I think that trying to take a message, you know, that’s old as many millennia and trying to make it culturally relevant is always a tough job.

RATH: And as I’m sure you know, there’s been some pretty strong reaction against it. There a lot of gospel music fans – or some – that seem to think that it’s taking the art form where it shouldn’t go.

FRANKLIN: Well, I think that more than anything, man, is that I always try to remember the heart of the person doing it. And I am a very, very good friends with Erica. She has a great heart for God. She has a great heart for ministry. And I just believe that the heart always wins.

RATH: You know, you and Erica obviously have something in common, and that’s the reason why we wanted to talk you, not just because you’re huge in the gospel world, but because I remember, you know, 20 years ago now, you took some heat, as well.

FRANKLIN: (Laughter) Twenty years ago, I was nine years old.

RATH: Well, we’re talking about the ’90s, and you took some heat for bringing the funk into church. What sort of stuff were you hearing from people, you know, when you had some stuff that sounded like there was some hip-hop, there was some go-go, there were some funk?

FRANKLIN: Yeah, well, you know, it was a very hard time because it’s very hard when you hear churches talk about you. And, you know, some people start to question your heart. It can be very hard for you because, you know, you know, you’re in your early 20s. And you don’t really understand what all the fuss is about ’cause you’re doing just what’s real to you, because I came from break-dancing. I came from hip-hop. And I trusted Christ with my heart. You know, he didn’t, you know, have me start listening to George Strait, you know. …So, you know, if you like Italian food before you became born-again Christian, you know, you’re probably still going to like Italian food. There’s nothing wrong with that, you know. I’m trying to make Christ relevant within the culture.

RATH: Did you see the people who criticize Erica Campbell or other styles maybe having a point about, you know, the themes in gospel music deserve respectful treatment. It’s like you wear your Sunday best when you go to church, and so you should have, like, your best language, your best…

FRANKLIN: Yeah. Boo. Boo to all of that. That’s my problem with all of that, man. Boo to what to wear to church and what you can and can’t say. Boo. It’s almost like, you know, who are we? Man, we’re not referees. It’s almost like if you don’t like it, pray for her. You know, man, you know, we’re losing people. The church is losing its power because we stink at how we talk. We stink at how we communicate. Nobody hears love from our voices. They hear the schoolteacher from Charlie Brown’s “Peanuts” – womp, womp, womp, womp, womp. Now, not all churches, not all Christians – because I get beat up by that. But if we let our light shine, that sounds a lot more louder than picket signs and complaints.

Listen to the full NPR interview below:

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Straight up garbage. Wannabe hip hop trying to get in the back door under the guise of gospel. That would be garbage even if was hip hop. But this is where we’re headed. Go into the churches and check out the “performances” errr praise dancing. I actually saw a young lady twerking in the choir stand at one chair. Looking at the gospel award show was no different than watching the BET hip hop awards. Sad.

  2. It’s not my type of song, but I don’t knock it. There’s somebody listening that would have never sat down to listen to a straight forward gospel track EVER. The reality is Gospel music in and of itself it not appealing to everyone. I love it, but I know folks who would take a baseball bat to the speakers if you force them to listen. Some will argue “well, it’s really about the message,” but some people can’t get pass the music to hear the message. Let’s not forget this world is jam-packed with cynics who have heard and seen it all; it takes a lot to open their hearts and receive with all that’s going on in this world.

  3. “Oh Happy Day was once considered garbage by the church old guard when it was first released. Now it’s considered a gospel classic! This seems to happen with every generation. Kirk himself caught some flack for “Stomp”. Not surprised.

  4. It’s always so fkn fascinating when “foreigners” ^^^^!, bring dey trespassin asses ‘on “Our” site & “THINK”!!!, they’re in a position to speak ‘on “Our” culture or even “THINK” they know WTF they’re talkin/posting about, as it pertains to “OUR” shyt! Like….any & EVERYthang of our’s to “them”, is out of their fkn “scope of comprehension”/or they find….”against their taste”. Simply put…they should take dey asses “home”, where they DO know WTF their talkin bout! Or….stay here & continue to BE the detached fool they are, showing their ignorance AND true agenda for beeeeeeing “here” in the 1st fkn place. Hmmmmm, after considering my last statement?, ‘on 2nd thought? Let me….”leeeeeave dey ass alone”. (Winkin @ fam &….”tip toeing out the doe”!)

  5. If we want to C-walk in church, moonwalk or a backspin in the choir stand thats what we do. They don’t understand OUR culture. We are naturally flamboyant. We do EVERY thang on 10!! whether its folding clothes, listening to music or changing our motor oil, We DO it on HIGH. We burn IT.. SO Learn how WE do it before you comment or stay home. ”tip toeing out the doe one more gain”!

  6. I understand this is a different generation which I am apart of but the song does not have a message. Its just a feel good song if you go on youtube children and teens are just dancing to it we are not going to reach them this way we are just using carnal things to appeal to secular group of people we should learn from history hymns and traditional gospel music was always biblical. the Word of God should be use to reach the people in my generation not music that appeal to the flesh if this keeps up they will never take church seriously . this is coming from a teenager and why we are so focus on this foolish that has nothing to do with Spreading the Word of God the last days are here just look oversea in the middle east. the younger generation should be focus studying God word instead a foolish song which has no message.

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