Art kept me inspired and reminded me to create. Every First Friday in downtown Phoenix there is street festival that I’ve been going to for the last 6 years. Right on time, this festival started the month off with numerous forms of self-expression. From gallery collections paired with wine tasting, to alleyway freestyle sessions with a beanie on my head… you could say it raised me. In like fashion, I put out 6 First Friday singles this year to pay homage to the city that raised me, and the city I’m shaping.
“Shaping the city!” It’s an idea, a concept, a mission, an obligation that you should get involved in. Simply put, God created us and told us to create. He gave us ownership over everything on earth and wanted us to create culture. God brought the animals to the first man to see what he would name them. Man named them and what happened next was so dope; God affirmed his choices. So I’m saying, everything is ours. Man made to reflect who God is and how God thinks about things is our movement… you could say that it’s our humanity. So, if culture is the habits we create using the raw materials (art, entertainment, business, science, sports, politics, education), then the city is primarily where the battery pack of culture is found. So I’m saying, much attention should be given to steering the direction of the city (densely populated and known for lasting innovation) and as a result, culture.
Phoenix with its surrounding cities is massive. Given its population, plethora of transplants and lack of history many would consider it prime real estate for culture shaping. New things are starting and traditions are being made. It's been great to see a few examples of this recently: a local rapper promotes a Southside back-to-school backpack drive and challenges other rappers to show up and donate to the city streets they rep so hard. The 2nd annual AZ hip-hop festival try-outs were so dense with newer artists, that they’re forced to put more nights on the tryout calendar just to accommodate the talent. Bird City is packed, but has yet to be mastered. I’m hoping that you read this and see the opportunity to influence the masses.
I tried to try-out for the upcoming festival on the first night...it was so packed that the only rapping I did was freestyle... in my head over trap beats.
In the scriptures, Paul did his thing! I don’t agree with using his writings as a template for artistic content since he was a church planter and not a rap artist but there is much the artist can learn from him. Talking to a crowd of folks who loved hearing spoken word, in a city full of idols, Paul was asked to speak. After telling the non-believing crowd about God creating everything and God’s desire to be close to them, he quotes a “secular” poet to affirm his previous statements about God. This poet he quotes was actually talking about Zues, but I like how he flipped it on em. So to get back on my whole “shaping the city” rant… To my Christians, please know that creation is ours, the city is ours, “secular” poets are ours, Tupac is ours. What will you create? How will you come alongside and mold the culture in a way that reflects who God is?