By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association
Hip-hop culture continues to transcend the divisions that prevent a universal acknowledgment of the sacred affirmation of the oneness of all humanity. As soon as DJ Khaled dropped his latest album with that transformational featured production entitled, “God Did,” I knew that as an elder OG supporter of the culture I needed to publicly respond.
DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z , John Legend and Fridayy were all masterful in their contributory segments. At a time when world communities are experiencing increasing devastations from climate change, poverty, and human oppression, what are the enduring lessons that are being articulated and portrayed in our music, poetry, and art forms?
First, I was pleased and inspired by the lyrical summons from “God Did” that called all of us out of the graveyards of despair and hopelessness to stand erect and upright before the divine God of all creation and liberation.
When the player haters of the culture refused to hear and listen to the truth about how hip-hop continues to shed a radiant light on systemic oppression, racism, addictions, and economic inequities, God did not permit those profound spitters of truth to be silenced and unappreciated. Those of us who love and respect hip-hop know what time it is.
What emerged out of the South Bronx, NY with youthful creative power, authenticity, raw vibes, and artistic genius over 50 years ago is today an unstoppable global cultural phenomenon that is contributing to a positive and irrevocable transformation of the world’s consciousness and demands for freedom, justice, equality and equity.
In the pre-chorus to “God Did,” Fridayy and Rick Ross set the dramatic curtain riser with the verse:
“They wanted us down
But look at us now
They counted us out
They didn’t think that we would make it
They didn’t believe in us.”
Then in a forceful staccato affirmation by Rick Ross and Fridayy the chorus begins: “But I know God did, God did (Oh, yes, He did).” DJ Khaled in his street-powerful voice shouts out in refrain:
Oh, yes, God did
Oh, God did (God is great)
But I know God did.”
Yes, God did. And, yes, consequently DJ Khaled did.
Young people, especially Generation Z and millennials across America and throughout the world will connect, resonate, and engage with these lyrics and musical symphony because of how this hymn exposes the prevailing misperceptions about the so-called irredeemable, downtrodden-ness of youth consciousness and lifestyles today in impoverished communities in urban and rural areas.
While the status quo wants to keep young people down and disillusioned, God via hip-hop has reawakened the masses of millions of youth to speak out, stand up, and to become empowered with truth, resilience, vitality and a transformed vision to strive to make the world a better place for all people.
In verse 1 Rick Ross hints at the importance of stopping any form of disunity and self-destruction, and to begin the God-inspired journey to acquire enough money to buy and own a bank.
In verse 2 Lil Wayne testifies about how God made him to be creative:
“God did His thing when he made me
With the odds stacked against me, I could crack Da Vinci
I know only God can judge us.”
Verse 3 was the longest verse. It was another hip-hop classic with Hov, i.e.: Jay-Z, who upfront eloquently acknowledges that because God did, Hov did. Jay-Z reminds the world that, “Hov did”
“Please, Lord forgive me for what the stove did
Nobody touched the billi’ until Hov did
How many billionaires can come from Hov crib?
I count three, me, Ye, and Rih.”
Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna all shattered previous recording industry achievement records that propelled each of them into the billionaire stratosphere on earth and in the heavens. Yes, God did. Yes, Hov did. God did and God is still doing!
Mass incarceration is not the answer. Voter suppression is not the answer. Poverty and economic inequities are not the answer. “God Did” is the answer that requires activism, struggle, compassion, creativity, and empowerment.
Jay-Z said it best:
“I pray none of your people die over jailphones again
All this pain from the outside, inspired all the growth within
So new planes getting’ broken in
Highest elevation of the self.”
No one album alone will give all the answers to all the perplexing questions of society. Yet, I salute “God Did” as a welcomed and timely give back and cultural blessing to all of humanity. Hip-hop is a global antidote to the poison of racial oppression and economic inequalities. Thank you, DJ Khaled, for “God Did.”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr (Dr Ben) is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Executive Producer/Host of The Chavis Chronicles weekly on PBS TV stations throughout the U.S. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org