LA Living: Pass the Mic LA/”Excellent” Release Party

Between the Andy Mineo & KB concert I attended last weekend and Saturday’s festivities, I have been in mad support of the Christian hip hop community lately. On September 29, 2012, SoundVision LA partnered with Pass the Mic LA to host an fun-filled night of everything artistic. Vendors sold t-shirts, wallets, purses, and stickers. Carne asada tacos cooked in the back while DJ Actual blasted bass-heavy beats from the main room.

Aside from the fact that we waited an hour and a half for the event to begin, everything was running smoothly. I was completely unprepared for the shift that soon occurred. The host introduced Pass the Mic as a space for Christian rappers and poets to find out if their art is “good” or not. He went on to explain how Christian rappers lacked the space for real feedback from their listeners. I cringed in my seat at least 10 times by the time his introduction was over. How is this constructive? I asked those sitting next to me. Am I trippin’ or does this go against everything the Body is about? Absolutely nothing was said about building God’s Kingdom, encouraging others, or mentorship. I couldn’t understand why a Christian establishment’s sole purpose was to shut people down. To be clear, I have nothing against speaking the truth. I think too many people suffer from fake support, hence the thousands of tone-deaf people who audition for American Idol every year. I do have a problem, however, with destructive criticism, especially within the context of the Kingdom.

When the audience wasn’t feelin’ whoever was on stage, we were instructed to shout “please, pass the mic.” According to the host, we weren’t being rude because of the precursory “please.” Out of the 6 or 7 artists that came prepared to glorify God, only 2 of them managed to finish their set without being disrupted by the crowd. As an artist with rather high standards, I can honestly say that no one who graced the stage that night deserved to be forced off of it. Yes, some had better delivery and content than others, but no one was “bad.” Most of the acts were shooed away by anxious pre-teens who were searching for attention. In most instances, there were actually more cheers than dismissal shouts, yet the host quickly appeared to escort them off stage. It was heartbreaking to watch. Both of the rappers who advanced to the final round had an overwhelming amount of supporters in the crowd there for the sole purpose of cheering them on. Had their families and friends not been there, they probably would’ve have been prematurely cut off with the others. The crowd was unrealistically cruel. At one point, I walked outside to offer my suggestions to two women at the check-in table. I even teared up while expressing my discontent, which included the following suggestions:

  1. After a majority calls for the end of a performance, 2-3 audience members should be called up to give the artist specific feedback on what they did/didn’t like.
  2. Before escorting an artist off the stage, the host needs to accurately determine if there are more cheers than “please pass the mic” shouts to avoid unwarranted dismissals.
  3. Artists should be given a “grace period” of at least 1 minute before the crowd is allowed to request their removal.

To my delight, the event improved tremendously after the prolonged intermission following the competition. My fellow Trojan, J. Givens, spit straight TRUTH in an engaging and uplifting performance. He successfully set the tone for the man of the night, Propaganda, who blurred the lines of poetry and hip hop for a mind-blowing set of songs from his latest project, Excellent, and his previous album, Art Ambidextrous.

I couldn’t help but smile throughout both of their performances. To see young Black men spreading God’s Word through carefully crafted lyrics and sick beats did so much for my faith in humanity. It was refreshing to see fellow servants taking God’s Kingdom seriously. The hope of our generation lies within people like J. Givens, Propaganda, and all of the other artists who shared their gift on Saturday night. Regardless of how the crowd reacted to each act, if God has indeed called them to advance the Kingdom through rap or spoken word, I pray that they will continue to do just that. It is important to remember that God-given talents still require hard work and dedication. It is not enough to simply create. As Propaganda effectively stated, “you should be proud of everything you put your name on.” And with that, I’m off to create responsibly (and pay attention in this cinema class. HAHA)

Thank you to Sound Vision and Pass the Mic LA for hosting. I hope that the staff receives my suggestions in love. Be sure to download Propaganda’s and J. Givens’ latest projects via the links provided above.

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