There’s seems to be something a little strange going on in the music world lately. And gospel powerhouse Kirk Franklin seems to be at the heart of it.

Christian artists and secular artists often live on two different planets and those worlds don’t always mix well. Many Christian rappers decry the secular focus on drugs, sex, and violence while many secular rappers scoff at the religious agendas of Christian artists.

But, look what can happen when worlds collide.


We reported the other day on mainstream artist Chance the Rapper and how his recent tweets seemed to hint at a growing relationship with Christ, if not an all out salvation. Chance has stated, “One of my favorite—if not my favorite artists, definitely my favorite composer—is Kirk Franklin.” And, as our previous article mentioned, Chance brought out Franklin as a surprise guest to close out his performance at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago last summer, along with a full gospel choir. The rising secular rap star seems to have a growing association with Franklin, both personally and professionally. Although Chance has often stated how he grew up in the church, is his association with Kirk Franklin compelling him towards a closer relationship with God?

And what fruit is being born by Franklin’s involvement with Kanye West?

The first hint came when Kanye tweeted this about his upcoming album WAVES, due for release on February 11th


Then, days later it came out that Franklin was involved in the project. Photos and comments began popping up on social media showing West and Franklin, as well as Crystal Lewis, Anthony Evans, and several other gospel artists at work in the studio.

In an interview on Thursday with radio host Big Boy, Kanye stated, “…I’m trying to open up hearts, minds. When I was sitting in the studio with Kirk [Franklin] and we were just going through it … I said, ‘This is a gospel album — with a whole lot of cursing on it, but it’s still a gospel album.”

The working track list that Kanye tweeted a picture of includes a song titled, “Father Stretch My Hands.” The song apparently samples Pastor T.L. Barrett’s 2012 gospel song of the same name, according to a recent snapchat of West listening to the track in his studio.


All of this seems to indicate that there is, at the very least, a legitimate gospel influence happening on the album.

West who’s faith pendulum (in public at least) has seen some severe swings during his career, has always maintained his Christianity. His earlier works featured such well known songs as “Jesus Walks,” but his more recent work has been attacked for its overt darkness and Satanic references and imagery. Could it be that his work with Franklin has him shifting back to a more Godly direction?

justin-franklinIs Justin Bieber on the list?

Franklin has also been previously rumored to have projects in the works with Justin Bieber. Franklin has stated he is friends with Bieber who himself has seemingly been trying to strengthen his own Christian walk in recent months.

So is Kirk Franklin a beacon to these spiritually confused/growing/searching artists? Is his influence turning them towards a closer relationship with Christ?

Many claim that the opposite is happening.

Franklin has come under attack for his musical approach which often merges hip-hop with gospel. It’s brought the luminaries of the rap world and the sound of the club scene into the church and not everyone has always been comfortable with that.

kirk-franklinsmallHe sparked controversy with the title of his latest album, Losing My Religion. The title track, in fact, ended with the line, “I’m losing my religion, Thank God / Helping you lose yours is my job.”

Many Christians, who didn’t take the trouble to look or listen any further, jumped to the literal conclusion that Franklin was denouncing his belief in Jesus and denouncing his faith. They have gone on to categorize his association with secular artists like Chance the Rapper, Kanye West and Justin Bieber as basically embracing the devil. Apparently a thought provoking title doesn’t always hit the mark with those that don’t like to think a whole lot.

The point Franklin was making with his album was to seek relationship with Jesus over allegiance to and dependence on a religious institution. Anyone who examines Franklin’s social media commentary, interviews, public appearances, musical directions, and involvement is virtually any activity, can hardly help to conclude that he is an extremely devout man of faith who deeply loves the Lord.

So what’s going on?

Chance the Rapper is infusing gospel music into his performance and tweeting about his growing faith, Justin Bieber is seeking him out, and Kanye West’s new album may be going gospel. Sure there are commercial considerations at work, but what’s happening to these artists personally? What is stirring in their souls? Is their relationship with Kirk Franklin leading them to a closer relationship with God?

It’s all really conjecture on my part, but I’d like to think that God is using Kirk Franklin as His instrument. It’s an inspiring example of how we can all be beacons of His light and influence those we work with. It’s not always the fiery sermon that grabs, holds, and changes the non-believer. It’s often just the example of how God is working in our lives that makes us an inspiring, and potentially life-changing, example to others.

Like Kirk Franklin.

9 Responses

  1. hypercoyote

    I think it’s awesome these lives are being touched.  We gotta look past the rough edges while people are being delivered from the old way of life.
    I will say though, I’m not comfortable with the idea of calling an album with cussing in it a gospel album.  I’d have the same level of uneasiness with a sermon with cussing in it.  I think I hold music to the same standard I’d hold preaching, although music really reaches more ears than a sermon would.  The reason I hold it to that standard is the impact that those words have on people.  If you’re spewing a mixture of flesh and spirit, it’s going to taint people.  I think it’s good that new believers find their place in using music to reach people, but I think they should recognize their immaturity and take some time to get a foundation before releasing something.

  2. hypercoyote

    I’ll also add that I think it’s hard for a new believer to grow while still being mixed in the mainstream media.  It’s no different than a new believer who’s just an average guy trying to grow without severing some of the friendships that might drag him down.  I think what they’re trying to do is great, but I think the best growth these artists will see is when they cut their previous ties and allow themselves to fade out of the spotlight for a while to get that foundation, and then if God sees fit, to bring them back, standing on solid ground and able to speak truth without compromise to others.

    As far as Kirk’s involvement, I think that his association with them is fine, but I’m not sure about his collaboration.  Jesus ate with sinners, but His goal was not to mix into their work but to call them from it to His work.

    I truly pray the best for these men.  Hollywood is so laced with the lies of Satan, with temptations at every turn and the money to buy them all, it’s amazing any believer can exist there, but with God, all things are possible.  But you better have a good foundation to stand on, or that stuff will swallow you whole.

  3. obeyurmasta1

    I duno these people and what is it to me? Is it cause you put Kanye on a pedestal? Or Kirk Franklin or Justin Beiber on a pedestal? I duno whats it to me? Jesus said without me you can do nothing, point blank. I don’t know these dudes so what motivates them in all they do I don’t know. In times past men with ideas would rise up and go to other countries to spread there ideas…Christ disciples were not the only ones carring some news. So in these days I couldn’t tell whos who or whats what unless I knew you.

  4. hypercoyote

    obeyurmasta1 I think the point of the article is that someone is penetrating the veil that is Hollywood.  There’s so much ungodliness in there, so it is a big deal from a Kingdom perspective to have prolific people come to Christ, not because their personal value is greater but because the conversion is very visible to the masses.

    Also, a lot of people write off celebrities as non-people and really don’t care about their salvation.  Either that or speak condemnation over them on their actions without taking time to pray for their deliverance.

  5. hilbertsteen

    HarcoPloegman mooi initiatief. Nederlandse gospel artiesten zouden eigenlijk ook meer moeten gaan voor dit soort samenwerkingen.

  6. HarcoPloegman

    hilbertsteen zo heel makkelijk gaat dat natuurlijk niet, bovendien is cultuur daar heel anders en muziekbusiness veel groter/verwevener

  7. hilbertsteen

    HarcoPloegman klopt, maar ook al ziet het muzikale landschap er hier anders uit, volgens mij zijn er zeker mogelijkheden.


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