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“And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” Psalms 40:3 (KJV)
FILLING THE GAP
Somewhere between the church and the streets, a hole exists and it’s swallowing the younger generation in ignorance. What kind of ignorance? The worst kind- the ignorance of God and how He cares about their well-being and most importantly, desires their praise just as much as their grandmothers on the Mother Board. In order to combat this ignorance, it will take some one who knows Gods true inheritance (Youth, Children, etc) and is committed to God about witnessing to the “lost souls” in the streets. Jesus emphatically stated that “he who gathers not with me, scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30, KJV, emphasis added). But over the years, the Black Church, whether knowingly or unknowingly, scattered the younger generations-and they managed to lose them through poor teaching, contradictory behavior, and in the songs that became church protocol.
But, the younger generation need a song of their own-not because they don’t love God and simply don’t want to acknowledge order, but because their struggle is different. Their parents’ song evokes memories of God’s covering during the days of “whites Only signs and a little cornmeal feeding 12 children, but they need to know how God can help them TODAY as they deal with bullet-riddled apartment buildings, drug tracks, HIV and other demonic, covert operations. This new song has to come from the heart, speaking directly to them and causing them to open up the door of their hearts to the One who is knocking: but who’s willing to accept a ‘grind” like that? Before we answer that question, let’s identify a fertile ground to plant the seed.
A CITY’S STRANGE FRUIT
If one were to study the history of Black music closely, they will find that the Blues is a lovechild of Gospel music, but that doesn’t validate the odd relationship of these two genres; one genre is God-centered, while the other one is Groove-centered. In other words, one is strict and traditional-reminiscent of cotton choir robes, little white churches sitting off from main roads and our of tune pianos; while the other continued to evolve and spew forth other children such as Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, and Hip Hop---urban if you will. The latter divided itself from the standard message of Jesus and embarked upon exposing some relevant problems in daily life, but offered either a worldly solution or none at all—and thus, the separation of the church and the streets was born.
There is a place on this earth where God and the Groove co-exist on different ends of the spectrum, but comfortably with each other. The place is Memphis TN; a distinctive city situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It has many names; Bluff City, Birthplace of the Blues and it serves as a venue to many things, mainly the Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ, where several thousand saints gather and interestingly enough is one of the city’s major sources of revenue. On the other hand, Beale Street attracts over two million tourists per year; therefore Memphis can confidently pride itself on being the home of both fiery, show-stopping Gospel community choirs, such as O’landa Draper’s Associates and tantalizing, mouth-watering Rhythm & Blues performers, like Ruby Wilson, and Al Green; as well as equally influential Rap acts like the Platinum selling Three Six Mafia. Have you noted the peculiarity, yet?
This dichotomy could only occur in a place such as Memphis TN: squarely positioned in a region best known as the Bible Belt and home of one of the oldies Black churches in the US, which bears the name of a historically Black district where the perfect mixture of gin and sin placed the city on the minds of many partygoers over the years.
So what better place to plant the seed of a vision to marry the Groove with God so that a holy union could occur?
CALLED TO THE KINGDOM FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS (Esther 4:14)
Two of Memphis’ sons heard their name being called over the blaring sounds of Blues-inspired guitar riffs and chords of ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ and saw the gap as wide as the Red Sea. William ‘Doc’ Wyatt and Clayton ‘Mac’ McKinnie said ‘Yes’ to God’s call to do something to draw His children unto him---become as the Apostle Paul and be ‘made all things to all men’ so that they could, ‘by all means, save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, emphasis added). Become the ‘clean up men’ for the Kingdom. A specific message of reaching the people on their level without sacrificing the Gospel was driven into them and their task is to carry it to the streets, letting them know that these are the last days and now is the time to learn of God and share in His Goodness; hence the birth of Remedy and that’s the answer.
Although contemporary gospel is emerging front and center of today’s music
Industry, there are very few that manage to balance the message of salvation & holiness with up-tempo rhythms and bass lines that accompany the lyrics. To date, the most successful in this balance is Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary & a few others…
Remedy has that balance, too, but that’s not exactly what makes them so special.
Doc & Mac sing about what they know and that’s how good God has been to them!
They have the ability to express their intimacy with God while making you cut a step at the same time. In other words, it’s a testimony in song and isn’t that what witnessing is all about? Besides, the only way you can convince the streets of the realness of the Lord is show them your on change. While most Contemporary Gospel artists provide a listening alternative for the Body of CHRIST, Remedy is offering an alternative to daily live for those caught in the snares of bondage.
In saying that, we can boldly drop the label from Remedy’s sound and simply state that this is an attempt to put the ministry back into the music, rendering the sound as both God and Groove-centered. Remedy has the same conviction as Kirk Franklin, but has the versatility of Earth, Wind, and Fire who sang about ‘blessed are the children’ in their classic, ‘True Devotion’ all over secular radio stations in the 70’s. It’s about infusion, that’s the order of the day. Airplay on Gospel stations is appropriate but airplay on cluttered Hip-Hop/ R&B stations would be ideal---because these are the people that Remedy wants to reach. Actually, those are the people that the church is supposed to be reaching. So, in between ‘shaking a tail feather’ and stepping in the name of love’, you should be able to hear two brothers singing about a higher love and their commitment to that Love.
“ Now I’m walking in a different way/Cause He’s shown me a brighter day/And I’m so thankful to You, forever/Now I know what it’s all about/You’re the Truth and without a doubt/And I wouldn’t trade this thing for nothing. From the beginning to the end/through thick and through thin/I’ll be living…living this kind of life/through the good times and the bad/ Even if I lost all I had/I’ll be living …living this kind of life.”
That’s the uniqueness of Remedy; they’re confronting church protocol by being hood bred, braided up, tattooed, slightly thugged out and loving God just as much as any other saint—and it’s not an act for them. It’s their Lifestyle. Of course, they could have easily chosen to sing about empty love like any other R&B crooner, but they made a conscious decision to sing about their First Love. Why? Because God told them to when He gave them the vision of Remedy that they’ll be ‘on this grind forever’.