And the Mic Dropped…
Bro! Listen to the kids!
On Sunday, August 30th, Kanye West gave a speech at the MTV Video Music Awards. I know, I know, that happened a week ago, but I was listening to his speech the other day and realized Kanye West was talking about and creating church that night.
He started that speech with the quote above. “Bro! Listen to the kids!” Listen to the kids. Now, let’s be real, Kanye (and other pop culture icons) make their money by listening to the kids. It’s the truth, listen to them cheer. And yet, what is it that we are called to do? Are we called to stand on the side of love? Are we called to sing for justice in the streets? Are we to help heal the world?
We need to “Listen to the kids”, because we have a lot more in common with Kanye, with TSwift, with St. Vincent, and all the other artists out there than we realize. Church and spirituality is about community, honesty, and sharing pain and heartbreak and love. Music has always been about those things. Chubby Checker’s “The Twist”? It’s in there. The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”? Got it. Mozart, Beethoven, and the great composers? All about it. Public Enemy, Nas, and Jay-z? Listen close. N*Sync, Britney, and Bieber? What about EDM? I can stop, because all throughout history music and church have been so intertwined that they were inseparable.
And that’s why Kanye’s speech on Sunday was important. He asked for redemption. Redemption for pulling the mic away from Taylor Swift and speaking his truth (no bickering about Beyonce and TSwift, please). Church.
He talks about the vapidness and temporariness of the music industry, and in it we can hear truths about our own experiences. Tomorrow is going to look different than today, so let’s make our today matter. He talks about watching his peers be ignored in order for some larger corporation to make a little bit more money. Being used over and over, so someone else can make money. “Listen to the kids, bro!” Church.
Kanye told us some deep truths about ourselves. His struggles with self-esteem, with self-confidence, are reflected daily in all of us. Church.
“We the millennials, bro. This is anew mentality. We not going to control our kids with brands. We not going to teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids. We going to teach our kids that they can be something. We going to teach our kids that they can stand up for they self. We’re going to teach our kids to believe in themselves.”
Church. I don’t know about y’all, but this quote right here reflects one of the guiding principles in my personal ministry to youth.
We, as church leaders and religious people, need to listen to the youth, because it is our job. We are called to create space for our youth, young adults, and adults to struggle with redemption, love, self-confidence, how temporary life is, work, and for that space to elevate and help them believe in themselves. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather light a candle with friends than share my struggles on national TV. I imagine a lot of other people feel the same way. As millennials, boomers, and X-ers, it is our duty to “Listen to the kids, bro!” in matters of justice, spirituality, and life, because we all have a lot more in common than we think.
Full transcript of Kayne’s speech can be found at Slate.