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Neither Kirk Franklin nor Kanye West is a stranger to the world of controversy. As artists, they love to color outside of the lines and design their “sound” according to their own convictions. While many applaud both for being courageous enough to step outside of the box and follow their unique paths, others have not been so gracious in their critiques. Kanye is constantly getting slammed for his behavior and after his recent song collaboration Kirk, many are wondering if Kirk Franklin is the Kanye of the Gospel music.
When Kanye hit the scene many celebrated his arrival and loved his lyrical abilities. Some believe that the turn of the tide occurred when the rapper interrupted Taylor Swift during an acceptance speech. Others feel he was always arrogant, but after his career began to soar so did his ego. While it is true that Kanye often behaves in a controversial manner, is there a method to his madness?
Yes, he is outspoken and does exactly what he wants. However, Kanye is not as concerned about what others think as much as they wish he would be. He went from being the man behind the curtain in the 1990s producing beats for other artists, to the spotlight with hits such as Jesus Walks and Through the Wire. All while working in the shadows, Kanye never gave up his dream to become one of the greatest rappers alive.
As a businessman and musician, Yeezus has solidified his place in the industry. Many of his decisions are controversial and questionable, yet his success is undeniable. As a trailblazer in the rap game, Kanye is known to stray from the blueprint. He is not a conformist and basically writes his own rules. Whenever a person decides to step outside of the prescribed box, their choice is always accompanied by criticism and often sidelined with haters. Does this make Kirk the Kanye of the gospel music industry?
Kirk entered the gospel arena on a high note with his hit, The Reason Why We Sing, but by the time his single Stomp hit the airwaves, the Christian community’s applause took a left turn. Although he has many critics, Kirk is a celebrated veteran in the gospel music industry with numerous awards and honors. As a songwriter and music producer, he has mastered the art of creating quality gospel music for decades. When questioned about his artistic choices, Kirk said:
Gospel music should be in tune with the culture of the world instead of focusing solely on the church. People don’t live at church, they live in the real world. So music has to reflect how people live, what they’re doing as they go through their trials in life.
Although the musical genius is very much still a Christian, his latest project is called, Losing My Religion. Kirk proclaims there is a grave difference between religion and relationship and he believes his purpose is to help the Christian community shed the shell of religion. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter says relationship is inclusive and liberating, but religion is a prison.
The 46-year-old producer has come under fire, not just for his collaboration with Kanye, but for speaking out against the church’s rigid focus on rules which often push people away from the love of Christ. Kirk has made it clear that he is determined to break loose from the shackles of manmade doctrine and instead, seek after God. Does his decision to break away from the mode make him the Kanye of gospel? According to the Wanna Be Happy singer:
Kanye is not me. I am not him. He is my brother I am proud to do life with.
Both of these artists have refused to allow the industry to put them in a box. Instead, Kirk and Kanye are determined to follow their unique paths. Life is too short to fit into another person’s mode while stifling one’s own purpose. Both men have no problem with their opposers spewing venom as they continue on the path of success.
If the desire to follow his own conviction, even within the world of Christendom, makes Kirk the Kanye of gospel… So be it. This gospel music phenomenon has learned to tune out criticism, hate and negativity as he continues to make room in the Christian community for the current generation.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Christian Post: Kirk Franklin Exclusive: Prayer For Gospel Music
Elite Daily: The Kanye West Strategy To Responding To Haters Is Epic
Buzz Magazine: Kirk Franklin is losing his religion: ‘Religion is prison
Top Image Courtesy of Pieter-Jannick Dijkstra – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Stephane Alexandre – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Jason Persse – Flickr License