Friday, January 4, 2008

The Bible's Great Commission- 1990

One of the blessings of working with the guy you grew up with is all the shared memories. Virtually every week Nathan and I remind each other of some great or goofy memory and have a good laugh.
Spoiler Alert: (this may forever change your view of me...I'm O.K. with that..but are you?)

One such memory is a rap group named "Brimestone" Nathan and I were part of in our last year of high school and first couple of years of college. Thankfully none of us kept any recordings of our concerts and thus nothing can be held against us....until now.

Our first year at Moody Bible Institute the president of the Moody Student Mission Fellowship (called SMF), Jeff Samuelson, was on our floor and he heard us rap. He was also in charge of leading an all-school chapel every month, known as "SMF Chapel". He asked us if we'd be willing to do a missions rap for chapel, but we'd have to tone it down a bit as Moody was pretty conservative back then. We were a bit hesitant and concerned school administration wouldn't be too keen on us rapping in the sacred Torrey-Gray Auditorium. What would all the stuffy, fundy, donors think if they heard some guys from NY were rapping in the school that D.L. Moody founded? For most chapel services musical numbers had to be approved by the music department. Student-led chapel services, like SMF Chapel, had a bit more leeway as the final approval was done by the student president of SMF. This is how we got away with rapping at Moody chapel in 1990.

I had to hurry and write a "missions" rap to music we knew. I finished the words with Handel-like speed (but none of the profundity) in a week or less, we ran it by Jeff, then began practicing how we would do it in chapel. I am confident that Moody chapel had never seen anything like we had done previously. I know in more recent years they have the worship band thing going, but "back in the day" there was no such animal as drums, beat box, electric guitars in chapel. Definitely no dancing prior to this event. I won't kid you, we were nervous about what kind of reception we'd get, but Jeff kept urging us on.

The morning came, it was Spring of 1990. Keep in mind, we were 18 years old. The group was made up of myself as the lead rapper and three fellow pastoral majors as the back up dancers, this included Nathan Currey (our associate pastor at Redeemer), Troy Gentz (currently lead pastor of Freshwater Community Church in Michigan), and Scott Friesen (currently senior pastor of Berean Bible Church in Nebraska). Instead of wearing our rap garb, we took the stage dressed in jackets and ties (picture above is from the actual event in 1990), acting as though we would do a gospel quartet song- something pretty common for a Moody Chapel. Scott Friesen was to introduce us as the "Culby 17 Quartet" (Culby is for Culbertson Hall, our dorm, the 17th floor) and tell the audience we would sing a song for them. I'll let you listen to the track to hear how it went for yourself. Unfortunately, you can't see the stellar dance moves of Nathan, Scott, and Troy, but you can tell they are regular M.C. Hammer's based on the elated audience response. Remember, this was a first for Moody Chapel, no one saw it coming.

At 18 I was still a developing Calvinist and the lyrics are not profound, but I can assure you our passion for world missions was real and has only grown. I post this now for two reasons: First, Redeemer's second annual World Missions conference is at the end of this month, this ought to prime the pump for our people. Second, Brian Hough now has a copy of this track and it's only a matter of time before he releases it to the world. I wanted to release it on my own terms rather than be held hostage by our youth pastor!


Lyle Burton said...

As I listen to you rappin' I can't believe you didn't already have the soul patch back then!

Rick Calohan said...

Yo Funky Great Commission, gee up until now I really detested rap with the exception of Will Smith; Will the Culby 17 Greatest Hits album and Concert DVD be available soon?

Mark Davis said...

So you really are Tone Loc after all! Dude, that's an edgy sample you covered in chapel AT MOODY! It would have been funny to follow your rap with a pop quiz. Show of hands, who knows the sample under the rap? I see that hand, and that one, and yes you... You're all expelled.

You never know. These days, the boys at Moody may be kickin it to some New School:

They call me cowboy,
I'm the preacher in black.
Throw your bible in the air,
let me see where you're at!

Show of hands, who knows that sample? You and you and you... you're all expelled!

Hough said...

Best song ever. Listening to you rap is "really really fun."
It needed to be released to the world, I'm only saddened by the fact that I now need to get new blackmail.

AJF said...

Ah yes Mark, I figured anyone who knew from whence the music came wouldn't admit it on this site!

The tune actually comes from Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" (early 80's). It was then used by a one-album wonder rapper in 1989 or so.

That's all I'll divulge.

The Bible's Great Commission hereby redeems the tune!

Frontier Forest said...

I spent 10 minutes taking this test and scored 13%. According to the results of the survey, 13% means I am weird?
You can bet your bippy, I didn't check any of the current Hollywood's liberal left! Especially Springstein and Streisand.
So what do we win for taking the test?

nathan said...

i remember seeing that, realized "those guys are on my floor" and subsequently hid in my room my entire first year. Only slowly did i realize that Chapel would never be as cool. EVER. so it wasn't until my 2nd year that i started signing in, skipping out, and going to the movies instead. Thanks, Tony. YOU ROCK!!!!

Frontier Forest said...

Woody ain't too bright! Instead of clicking the start button and listening to the famous "Righteous Rambling Rapers" at Moody, I clicked on the 2007 favorite Christmas songs!
That's where the name, "Okie" came from.
I wondered why Tony would have this on his blog?

AJF said...

Wood- I'll be kind with no OKL jokes.

Nathan- Ha ha. In actuality, you saw us do it the second time, an encore if you will, in 1993 just before we graduated. The time you saw it, however, we added sweet strobe lights to the production. The shock value wasn't as powerful in 93, but it was still there. Plus, our maturing rap voices (see Pavorotti later in his career as an example) were improved from the 90 version.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Tone Felich! That's hysterical! Now I don't feel so bad about that time I . . . . . never mind.