Monday, July 28, 2008

Hip-Hop for Good

Music is a powerful medium. Like most things, it is not inherently good or bad. Depending on one's agenda, music can uplift and inspire change, or degrade and tear down.

Ever since I popped in Jurassic 5's EP cd in my car, I have been addicted to hip-hop. Over the years I have learned that much of hip-hop, especially the mainstream hip-hop, avoids the opportunity to inspire and uplift. At best, it simply focuses on girls, cars, and money (not the best, huh?); and at worst demonstrates how music can tear down, degrade and offend. But dig a little deeper into the hip-hop scene and some good wholesome music can be found. Braille is an artist who believes in Christ, and that belief is apparent in each of his albums. One song he talks about learning from the past and starting anew. Another drives home the point time is precious, and we must make good use of it. One is basically him pleading to God to help him always recognize the ways in which he can better glorify Him. The chorus (from Everything Changed on the Box of Rhymes album):

"…if there’s darkness in my heart
please reveal it...
if I’m blind to your truth
help me see it...
if I’m numb to your love
help me feel it...
never lose the feelin’ never forget when...
everything changed.”

Another artist, Rhymefest, collaborated wtih Citizen Cope to do Bullet and a Target, which is one of my favorite songs. The song tells three different stories, all driving home a point. A Tribe Called Quest would occasionally mock some of the tough guy attitudes, which I believe they did to deter people from petty violence.

The most powerful hip-hop song that I have come across is Constance, by Mr. J. Medeiros. The lyrics carry a powerful message against pornography, and the music video helps drive the message home. If you take the time to watch it, pay close attention to the lyrics. It tells both sides of the story; how pornography ruins the lives of those exploited to produce the filth, and how the filth corrupts the lives of those that come across it.

(The video is in the post below.)

Here's Constance

Mr. J Medeiros - Constance
Free Music Videos at

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm a manny!!!

I am back at my sister's place in San Francisco. I went to church today with her and her family and was introduced in Priesthood as Sophie's manny for the next 2 weeks. I'm not sure if everyone laughed because of the witty "manny" comment of Jeff or because I'm a nanny. Both are quite comical, I guess.

Anyways, it has been an amazing week. Only one poopy diaper on my shift. If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is! Besides opening up a diaper free from feces, one of my favorite part of each day is the bike ride I get to take with Sophie. She loves looking around at nature (especially when we see a dog) I get to exercise and get tan. What more could you ask for? This last Friday, before our daily bike ride I uploaded this series of talks onto my ipod. My Stake President recommended them to my Bishop, and my Bishop (my pops) mentioned they were insightful. So I got myself a copy and finally got around to listening to it. The series is called For all eternity, by John Lund. The Stake President prefaced recommending it to my pops by saying that no marriage counseling should be done before understanding the principles within these talks.

So as I was cruising along the canal that runs along Tammy's house, I was learning what it means to be able to communicate clearly, or as John Lund puts it, to be a "content communicator." Basically, he teaches to "own our words," which can be done by being held accountable for the words we say, opposed to the way in which we say it, or the other subtle hints that we may think we are communicating (but get lost in translation). Wise counsel.

In light of my new day job, I have learned another important lesson about communication. Sophie is, as of a couple days ago, 15 months. Her hearing comprehension is limited, and her speaking ability is even more so. But over the past few days, I have learned to understand her the majority of the time. It requires a little extra effort in listening in new ways, and a little patience on her part, but it has worked so far.

Seeing Sophie succeed at communicating really makes me wonder about all those times where I had misunderstandings with those around me. I can't really see a way to avoid responsibility for any miscommunications after what Sophie has showed me. Now if I could just remember this lesson the next time it happens...