According to Oxford Dictionary, genre is a style or category of art, music or literature. Based on this definition, it is right to say music genre is an expressive style of music.
As the definition implies, music should be categorised based on style and not content; Categorised by the type and tempo of beats, pace of words (whether spoken or sung), instruments used etc. By this definition we can have rap, country, and R&B amongst many other styles.
Should gospel music be any different? Why then should a category be sub-categorised? Why should there be ‘gospel rap’ when Rap music itself isn’t based on explicit content and foul language? If it was then we would have an artiste like Eminem nominated for least or most curse words used in a song and not for lyrical prowess. If my thoughts are true, then why is there a gospel category at almost every music awards ceremony – Grammy awards, BET awards and so on? And more bizarrely, Why is there “106 & park” and then “106 & gospel”?
Is it simply the world’s way of saying Cece Winans and Nicole Mullen will never win an award if they were nominated in the same category as Béyonce and Lady gaga? It actually devalues the artistes and demeans their talent. I believe “gospel” songs are not for the Christians only, but everyone that loves music, the whole world. In fact, unbelievers need it that little bit more than Christians do. Just like hospitals are built for the sick to get healed and the pastor opens the church to the unsaved to receive Jesus is the same way ‘gospel’ music should be circulated with violence in the circular world.
One gospel song on “106 & park” chart could mean much more than a top ten created for “Christians”, because it would reach an unsaved person waiting to watch that new Jay-Z video. Truthfully, not even all songs on a gospel album are gospel songs, but that is a different topic entirely. Some artistes just hide under the umbrella of “gospel” for reasons I would rather not mention yet.
I would like to see Infinity up against P Square or Rooftop MCs up against MI at an award ceremony and come out on top. Even if they don’t come out top, at least there will be a greater audience listening to the word God has put on their lips. This will do the spreading of the gospel a whole world of good (if that is why they are into “gospel music”).
It is more than music. It’s a message. Music is words with a tune, and the power of words spoken or sung cannot be under estimated and should not need sheltering.
For there to be a category based on content rather than style makes me think two things:
1. “Gospel” artistes need to up their game and come out of the comfort zone
We need to create beats and spit bars that will catch the attention of the whole world; beats that will make them stand up and dance, beats that will make them mellow and think, spit bars that will make them applaud your brain power, bars that will give them the key to the self imposed iron bars. Also having content arranged creatively. There are songs I hear and do not want to listen to again but I find myself still humming the tune, they are catchy.
2. It is a conscious effort to segregate good, positive music, devalue it and prevent it from reaching those that need it most
The word of God inspires and comforts us. It gives peace that no man can give. There are forces that will prevent the gospel being spread because the heart of man is wicked. We have to fight and be creative in the spreading of the gospel so that it reaches every corner of this place called earth.
Whatever it is, David went against Goliath with a sling and stones.