Mistaken Hearing Leads to Rewarding Discovery--Hebrew Prophets in Hip Hop


God's ways are not our ways. God moves in mysterious ways. And God moves outside his church through culture to build a kingdom movement, Parham writes. (Photo: Walmart)

Upon hearing that the Black Keys were playing a private concert in Nashville last week--broadcast around the world by SiriusXM radio--I vaguely recognized the band's name.

But I wondered, "What's the big deal? Who are The Black Eyed Peas? What's so special about a group to which I don't listen?"

Black Keys does sound like Black Eyed Peas, right?

OK, I've got hearing problems and I'm old school--and selectively so. I've got eclectic, secular musical tastes that run from Barry White's funk to Johnny Cash's country, from Aretha Franklin to The Eagles. You get the picture.

For a while, I connected to the Dixie Chicks via "Not Ready to Make Nice."

I get teary every time I listen to Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia." It's painfully personal--and too real for me to explain.

I, too, hear voices "vanished and gone." My clothes no longer fit me. I, too, "hear the blood in my veins" and "feel myself fading away."

I get charged up listening to Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop," the song that introduced Bill Clinton and Al Gore at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. "Yesterday's gone...Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" was a thematic promise of hope for the future. Two southern boys, two Baptists, two centrist Democrats.

Knowing that I needed to expand my musical horizon, I thought I would give the Black Eyed Peas a listen.

Using Spotify, I quickly clicked on and off of songs that had little appeal.

One song did capture my interest. I think it has a compelling message--"One Tribe."

"One Tribe, one time, one planet, one race. It's all one blood, don't care about your face. The color of your eye or the tone of your skin. Don't care where ya are. Don't care where ya been. 'Cause where we gonna go. Is where we wanna be. The place where the little language is unity," they sing.

Whether The Black Eyed Peas are Christian by background or practice--or even people of faith, I don't know.

I do know their song echoes a biblical message: "One tribe ya'll. We are one people. Let's cast amnesia, forget about all that evil. Forget about all that evil, that evil that they feed ya. Let's cast amnesia, forget about all that evil. That evil that they feed ya. Remember that we're one people."

They sing, "But the evil is seen and alive in us. So our hopes are colliding. And our peace is sinking like Poseidon. But, we know that the one. The evil one is threatened by the sum. So he'll come and try and separate the sum."

Another line: "Lord, help me out. Trying to figure out what it's all about. 'Cause we're one in the same. Same joy, same pain. And I hope that you're there when I need ya. 'Cause maybe we need amnesia. And I don't wanna sound like a preacher. But we need to be one."

God's ways are not our ways. God moves in mysterious ways. And God moves outside his church through culture to build a kingdom movement.

"One Tribe" could be a theme song for the faithful. Check it out.

Then listen to "Where Is The Love?" It's a powerful moral critique.

"What's wrong with the world, mama? People livin' like they ain't got no mamas. I think the whole world's addicted to the drama. Only attracted to things that'll bring you trauma."

"Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism. But we still got terrorists here livin'. In the USA, the big CIA, The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK," they sing.

"But if you only have love for your own race. Then you only leave space to discriminate. And to discriminate only generates hate. And when you hate then you're bound to get irate, yeah."

And then, "Father, Father, Father help us. Send some guidance from above. 'Cause people got me, got me questionin'. Where is the love?"

If the Hebrew prophets did hip hop, they might have sounded like The Black Eyed Peas.

We're one tribe--ya'll.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.

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Tags: Black Eyed Peas, Hebrew Prophets, Reconciliation, Robert Parham, Unity


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