Reflections on Hip Hop Culture, Christianity and Social Capital

Blinging Cross

In recent years, references to Creflo Dollar, arguably the most popular black prosperity preacher of the day, have become a visual and verbal fixture in Hip Hop music. Such instances include a cameo appearance in Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta” video, an invocation in a song by Fifty Cent, a professed pastoral affiliation by Mase, and a shout-out from Lupe Fiasco in his underground re-mix of Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.” This would seem to suggest, at least within the culture of the bling, that Christianity has become as much a signifier of wealth and power as it is evidence of any specific type of theological vision. Evidently Dollar – for whom wealth is a core spiritual value – seems to embody, for many Hip Hop artists, the essence of Hip Hop’s hustle doused in holy water. Interestingly, Pastor Dollar also has a rap video in the works, performed a by a group of rappers, the Ziklag Boyz, who belong to his church and record on his Arrow Records label. A surprise to no one, the song’s refrain is simply, “Money, money, coming down!” (see: ). While the video draws much resemblance to Lil’ Wayne and Fat Joe’s tale of the strip club, “Make It Rain,” – with dollar bills floating across the screen – noticeably absent from the Ziklag Boyz’ video are the bodies of scantily clad black and brown women. For male rappers, it is the bodies of black females that often make their rap videos so profitably seductive, but Dollar insists that the power to get “bling” can just as easily be achieved dropping bible verses like they're hot. The mutual resonance between much of rap music and Dollar’s prosperity ministry is but one instance where Christianity seems to function as an explicit form of social capital in popular culture . . .

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