Preaching through rap

Darrell Todd Maurina

Speakers blared. Fans clapped. And a jean-clad man on the stage belted out rap music lyrics before an audience of revved-up teenagers.
The scene might have been mistaken for a rap concert filled with disaffected youth — except for the words being sung from the stage.
“Anybody ashamed of Jesus up here?” rap artist Jah Word shouted into the mike.
“No!” responded the audience of nearly 400 at Clovis’ “Oneighty” Christian music and youth club.
Jah Word, also known as Paul Franklin, warned his audience that not all music is good, and some people who sing similar styles have very different messages.
“Make sure you listen to the words,” he said. “I don’t care about being your favorite rapper, I care about you hearing the words and letting you know that Jesus is Lord.”
Audience members interviewed said they appreciated Jah Word’s strong emphasis on evangelism and proper conduct.
“ He’s impressing us because of the way he sings,” said Gattis Junior High student Erica Navarette. “He impresses us to tell others they need to believe in God.”
Jah Word said he got interested in rap music because of his love for making rhymes.
“Traditionally in the church they don’t normally accept rap, and I’ve got to agree that rap music in general has given itself a bad name,” he said. “The majority of the messages are a negative message, but it’s not the form of music that’s bad, and we are changing the message.”