While listening to 103.5 Kiss FM, Chicago’s most well-known and popular radio station, I have noticed the choice of music they play is fairly decent. Though what I do always notice is the consistency of radio play for a certain type of genre and artist. It favors the pop genre a little more, mixed with a little bit of rap, and also some techno when it comes to those late night drives.
Regardless of what the station plays, the way the music sounds is superb. I always find myself nodding my head to the beat whether I may dislike the song or not. Next thing you know, a week later I am reciting the lyrics. I may not agree with some of the things the song may be talking about, but the beat sure sounds good.
I have always thought, how do we get Christian music to play on the radio? I think the answer may be much simpler than we may make it to be:
Get better production.
*This article is solely on the topic of production, not lyrics or wordplay.
“I only like the song because of the beat, I don’t listen to the lyrics.” This is a phrase I was completely guilty of using while I was growing up. I used it as an excuse to listen to songs that talked about sex, drugs, and that had a lot of profanity. This can quite possibly be the same reason (or excuse) people still use today for why they want to keep listening to their favorite type of music.
As there are many topics to discuss about the genre of CHH, the topic that seems to flow in and out of them all has to do with production. This may be because it is something that really happens behind the scenes in the music realm. Production is undeniably the majority of the process that goes into making music. So here is the real question to bring to the surface: How important is production for this sub-genre of Hip Hop?
To put production into perspective, let’s think back maybe five-plus years ago to some of the songs you loved and enjoyed. The likelihood of your favorite song being on the radio was pretty high. It’s safe to say that the song received a lot of radio play.
An example of one song that I can remember is Eminem’s ‘Like Toy Soldiers’. Let’s say I were to forget the title of the song and wanted to try and figure it out with a friend. I would say something along these lines, “Hey man, do you remember the song by Eminem that goes like ‘dun, dun, dun, dun dun dun? Playing with the piano keys? Oh! And the chorus is with those kids singing like if they are in the choir?”
Those little “dun dun duns” may actually help you figure out which song you’re talking about.
Now let’s step back and think about this concept. We literally made some random noises to help recreate the beat of that song. If the beat wasn’t something that unique or necessarily different where I couldn’t differentiate it from any other song, then it probably wouldn’t have been my favorite at the time.
So Back To the Question, How Important is Production?
If we are honest and transparent, we WANT CHH to grow. Why? Well, I would bet that many of us have been impacted by the music we have heard. With the growth of CHH that means more people have the opportunity to hear it. The more opportunity they have to hear the music, the better opportunity they have to perhaps enter into a relationship with God. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17
As fans, the production aspect is not very relevant. Though that does not mean fans cannot tell you which beat they prefer over another. We all have different opinions, but in most cases the majority may rule of what “sounded better”.
Now What Does Production Allow?
Quality production opens plenty of doors, but where do these doors lead to? We are surrounded by a media driven culture and the culture revolves around music . From our everyday social media such as Instagram and Twitter, to watching YouTube, to watching television, and even movies. All of these things are in some way related to music. Music is always being sponsored through these different media, but their choice in music is not randomly picked.
Will it take CHH artists to be Grammy-nominated to get chosen for more exposure? Not necessarily. For example, SPZRKT has been in Starbuck’s music rotation for the past month now and they have recently added Lecrae within the past few weeks. Also, Social Club has had their song, ‘Losing Sleep’ played in a TV series for Lifetime Television.
Should we not rejoice in something like this? To some it may seem a small accomplishment, but to others who have been with the CHH culture for more than a couple of years, this is something we have always wanted. Barriers are being broken and the distance CHH has come has far surpassed where many would have thought. Wherever the music is dominant is where we should engage in infiltrating that part of culture.
From the industry’s point of view they look at what is going to get the most plays and of course the most exposure for their company, radio station, etc. I think we can agree that radio does not necessarily care about lyrics, but it does love that beat that can make people move, clap their hands, and hum. Production obviously dominates over lyricism, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. For CHH it comes down to production. Quality production is what it needs in order to expand and do what it is called to do: To speak life and shed light on a dark and evil genre that this generation heavily pushes.
It’s more than just music.