Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge: The past few weeks have delivered a current of tragic news. Then we collectively sat through two weeks of mudslinging at the Republican and Democratic conventions. No matter how you feel about current events or politics, I can’t be the only one that has been praying for a little summer respite. Like, seriously, I’m ready for some feel-good news. Which is why Lyrical Lively is currently number one on my list of favorite things.
Never heard of Lyrical Lively? Neither had I until recently. Late last week, a Twitter user by the name of @Keith_The_God was at a gas station and was given a CD by an aspiring rapper. What makes this story so awesome is the rapper is 74-year-old Sister Bobbie, known by her rap name, Lyrical Lively. Lyrical Lively is not only a rapper, but also a grandmother, minister, theology teacher, and former missionary who is currently promoting her Christian rap album, Uh Huh, which, by the way, has serious beats.
Although I’m pretty much a Chreaster (only attend church on Christmas and Easter), I love, love, love a singing minister. Especially an elderly singing minister. Remember Bishop Bullwinkle’s hot fire song “Hell to the Naw Naw”?
That was my jam.
Instead of tossing the CD in his glove compartment, which is what I do, @Keith_The_God (who is a young African-American man) tweeted out a video of the album cover with Lyrical Lively’s music playing in the background. In a couple of days, the tweet received more than 57,000 retweets, 73,000 likes, and nearly 1 million listens on Facebook.
Although, she quickly rose to internet fame, Lyrical Lively said she released the bible-themed rap album to spread the word of God to the younger generation. This is her second album, produced by House of Judah Music. House of Judah is a recording studio created by young African-American entrepreneur Jordan Hulitt that helps turn an artist’s “next song idea or lyric into your next favorite song of praise or worship.”
What makes this really cool to me is that Lyrical Lively is an adorable older Southern white lady, and both of the young men who played a hand in jump-starting her career are young African-American men.
Lately, there’s been a slew of articles about the alleged racial divide in the U.S. A New York Times poll asked respondents about a number of racial concerns and found 40 percent thought race relations were “getting worse” in America. Yes, worse than slavery, the Reconstruction Era, or Jim Crow. (Not to mention that 50 years ago, Sister Bobbie and Jordan Hulitt could not have made an album together, publicly promote it, and receive international praise and acceptance.) This, obviously, is ridiculous. Still, for many, perception is reality, and it’s disheartening that a large number of Americans feel this way.
With all the talk of racial animus, particularly in the media and social media, this feel-good story about authentic human connection really resonated with me. It is particularly nice to see young black men in the media cast as the good guys, since many stories tend to focus on a negative narrative. Most recently, the media’s one-note narrative is that black men in America are victims of police brutality. While police abuse certainly is a devastating issue for many African-American men living in the U.S., it is far from a comprehensive view of black life that also includes love, joy, connection, and friendship. Seeing a young black man make the news for doing something fun and lighthearted, instead of being publicly executed, is a welcome balm to the current tragic state of our country.
The reality is stories of connectedness like Lyrical Lively's journey are out there and happening in our country every day. Fortunately, Twitter picked this story up, and it resonated with people. This is how the real fight against racism will take place: through human connection. Of course, it is important that our government has policies in place to discourage discrimination, but nothing is more of a change agent than spending quality time listening and learning from people different than ourselves.
This is the whole point of hip-hop. Although it started as a way for urban African-Americans to draw attention to cultural, political, and societal problems, it has quickly grown into the great unifier. Hip-hop and rap can now be found in places no one would have expected years ago, from Japan to the Congo. In television commercials, video games, and, yes, even religious music. Which is another reason why the story of Lyrical Lively makes me smile.
Let’s face it, a lot of people from Lyrical Lively’s generation aren’t exactly open-minded about hip-hop or rap music. It warms my heart that instead of bashing rap music, like many Christians and even those from an older generation, Lyrical Lively and her team have used it as a means to unite. Lyrical Lively, Jordan Hulitt, and @Keith_the_God are examples of what is right in this country.