Tag Archives: jesus peace

The New N Word

Bad, dope, sick, ill, and even crack are all adjetives I’ve used to describe something good, exceptional rather. I mean really good, not just anything, It has to be really cool to warrant such potent vanacular. You know, I’m talking something thats off the chain! This kind of vocab makes sense to most of my generation, kids born somewhere between Malcom X, and DMX, but not quite generation X. I googled generation names and it turns out being born in 85 makes me a part of generation (wh)Y, a millinial, an 80’s baby; but being born in Harlem in the 80’s to parents of Jaimacan, African American, & Puerto Rican decent , the label I identify with most is the Hip Hop generation. I grew up in the Boogie down, and it wasn’t long before I was exposed to the culture and language of Hip Hop, and by a preteen I was fluent and lyrically killin it! We didn’t invent the slang we used, most of it had been passed down from generation to generation, particularely in the urban context, but we sure did remix them joints. After all, what is Hip Hop if it isn’t taking something that already exists, and giving it a totally new purpose and meaning? Hip Hop is infamous for redefining things, from style, to language. Perhaps the conditions that birthed Hip Hop contibute to the way we view and use words. See, in the 60’s the Bronx was on fire, literally, and out of the ashes came Hip Hop; something beautiful out of something broken. Today we say “thats fire!” when complimenting someone or something. The N word we redefined and used as a term of endearment, synonymous with friend, or brother, but also generally synonymous with people. Instead of saying ‘people’, we pluralized the N word. I was 9 years old when rapper Biggie Smalls said “I love the life I live, cause I went from negative to positive, and it’s all good”.

The I(N) Word (Crash Course in Culture, Context, Contradiction, and Conflict for Children)

So as a kid the N word was more like the in word. It seemed all the kids used it regularly, it was just the norm. I can’t remember when it infiltrated my vocabulary, but I can remember it rolling off my tongue with ease for over a decade. A few key experiences shaped my relationship to the word, and taught me in live action the diversity of the word’s history, meaning, and cultural application. So rap music is undoubtedly the most influential source of urban slang, and absolutely the culprit that popularized the N word around the world. Within the Hip Hop communities of East Harlem, & the South Bronx the word was sung, flung, but never stung. When my family moved to Throgs Neck the word took on a whole new meaning, which ironically was it’s original meaning. Throgs Neck at the time was still somehwat segregated, and prone to racial issues. Prior to moving there, I rarely thought twice about race. One day while sitting in a park with my best friend at the time, who happened to be white, another older kid came by and sat to talk with us. We looked up to the older kid, because… well because he was older. He spoke about high school, and things that intruiged us. Then he said something I’ll never forget. He said the same word I had been completely comfortable hearing, and saying myself, but with a different tone, and it stung like a killer bee. I stood quiet, embarrassed and ashamed as he made racist remarks unaware that I represented the people he was reffering to in such a hateful way.  Another time in math class my teacher who was African heard me use the word and flipped out! Sent me to the office and accused me of being racist. I argued how can I be racist against black people when I’m black!? You see, my pops complexion is light and most people think he is spanish, my mom is light skin, and low and behold I’m light skin as well. A few similar experiences caused me to learn and understand the N word has a different meaning, and effect on different people, in different places, at different times. I remember the day vividly that my brother and I explored alternative words to refer to our friends as we walked through the same park where the N word had left an inward bruise on me.

Remixing The N word

What is Hip Hop if it isn’t taking something that already exists, and giving it new life and meaning? We remix everything, It’s what we do. -Randy Mason 

“What’s poppin’ my neighbor?” – Damion B Sanders

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a gospel Hip Hop CD that his co-worker Dame made, and that joint was fire! One line in particular blew my mind when I heard it. On a Kanye West remix the rapper flipped Kanye’s line which originaly used the N word, and replaced it with the word neighbor. “What’s poppin’ my neighbor?”  That line was, and is still one of the dopest lines I’ve ever heard, it’s profound! I loved the CD so much, eventually Dame and I connected and formed a rap duo called Jesus Peace. Fast forward to a few days ago, (that’s an interesting sentence combining future & past tense) Dame and I are at our Church (Elements Church) youth concert where we were performing a few new songs. Prior to us going up, a brother went up to share his testimony. While passionately explaining the life God delivered him from he slipped up and said the N word.  Oops! Everyone kind of shockingly laughed it off as he apologized. As an urban church we knew exactly where he came from, what he meant, and how any of us could potentially slip up like that; especially when talking about our past life. So when Dame and I went up to do our song, I referenced our brothers raw testimony, gave God thanks for transforming his life, and lastly told the congregation that Neighbor, is now the new N word.

Biblebonics (Everything New)

Jesus flipped a lot of generational traditions, and cultural idealogy’s on their head. Because of the “new” perspective he brought someone once asked Jesus “what is the greatest commandment?” If that isn’t a loaded question I don’t know what is. In Jesus’s response we discover the two things that God esteems as paramount for humanity.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So here we are in the year 2015, a lot has changed, and a lot is still the same. In regards to race in America things are once again beginning to intensify. In regards to Hip Hop culture and music, “consciousness” seems to be making a return as rappers address racial/political/social/economical issues in their music and interviews. Hip Hop & Christianity have a lot in common. From the underdog achieveing the impossible, to the remixing of culture, traditions, and perspectives; Most importantly the transformative aspect that they both employ; producing beauty from brokenness. So yo, consider this a Jesus Peace public service announcement: Neighbor is officially the new N word. Effective immediately. Tell a friend, tell all your neighbors.  We have an opportunity to make history! Lets make it so that when people look back at this time, and at our generation, they will see  a cultural shift in language and slang, when the N word was officially abolished and a new term flourished.

No Ordinary Living Room

Once a month Dame and I visit the Bronxworks living room homeless shelter and provide a creative writing workshop.

There is a beauty in brokenness that cannot be captured by any of the many wonderful art forms humanity has to offer. A benevolent beauty that subtly shows itself in the most unsuspecting moments. Detrimental decisions and disappointments develop into desolate days of debris covering all corners of the mind, hardening the heart that longs for tenderness.  Yet there is A heroism possessed by the humble, who strive to find peace in the pieces. Stand close enough to a broken heart and you will hear what it beats for. Get close enough to the eyes that have cried tsunamis and you will see the depth of sorrow as deep as the endless sea. Come close enough to touch the untouchable and you will feel the warmth of love that is still alive just waiting to be revived.

Trainsformers Strike Again!

Trainsformers is a NYC subway ministry that takes place every Thursday between 530pm-730pm on NYC trains. We use Gospel Hip Hop and worship music to transform lives & atmosphere on NYC trains. Trainsformers is NYC’s first ever underground (although sometimes above ground) mobile church.

Trainsformers began in the summer of 2015 on the 6 train in the Bronx. Our desire is to change the mood on the train, we love to see people smile, laugh, sing, and dance on the train. There is so much pressure on people to succeed, or for some, even just to survive. These pressures are especially felt here in New York City where if you don’t keep up with the fast pace you are likely to get trampled and left behind. The subway system is maybe the most accurate picture of, and authentic way to experience NYC’s rich diversity. On any given train every imaginable demographic is represented; every age-group, race, religion, and class jam packed into one small space. I can’t fathom a more fitting environment to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This weekly ministry will lead up to an annual event we are calling Trainsformation Day. On Trainsformation day with the help of fellow musicians and volunteers we plan to reach every train line in NYC, sharing the Gospel through music and ending with a finale concert on a bustling train station platform such as Times Square. We need your help to make this happen. We need to raise funds to cover the cost of food and clothing that will be donated to the homeless and hungry on the train, as well as other evangelistic and promotional materials. If you are interested in volunteering, and or donating please email us at nytrainsformer@gmail.com 

Connect with us on twitter: @nytrainsformer

“Your Name” Jesus Peace featuring Marina Mason Official Music Video

Here it is. Our first official music video. “Your Name” featuring my wife Marina Mason/ written and produced by Jesus Peace. Video shot & edited by Eric Mason. Mega props and thanks to our brothers Johnny Choi, Mark Bell, and Torri Harris who are also featured in the video. Thank you in advance for your love and support, and for helping us share the art God has placed in our  heART.

#TRAINSFORMERS

Training Camp (Underground Hip Hop… Literally)

Performing on NYC trains and platforms has a special place in my heart. I love seeing great performers of all kinds do their thing in the subway. The atmosphere is like no other, the diverse audience, and range of competing sounds and activity provide a raw and colorful backdrop for performers and unsuspecting audiences. A few years ago we were one of the few people presenting underground Hip Hop on moving NYC trains. Underground Hip Hop… Literally. My friend Akil and I rocked on the S train, and others (4,5,6,L,A,B,C) back and forth for countless hours almost daily for a few years. We had a ton of fun, learned plenty, and made a lot of money. The experience was always super uplifting and encouraging. We got on packed trains full of people, never knowing how they might react, what folks might say, and or do. The trains were sometimes so crowded that Akil would have to hold & play his guitar upright, aiming at the ceiling due to the lack of space, and I would tippy toe turning my face in a way to make sure my voice filled the cart, also to avoid rapping directly into a strangers face only inches from mine. The improv, the spontaneity, the necessary sharpness all made for an awesome experience. We played originals, flipped covers, and the biggest hit of them all was when we would freestyle. We were even recognized and selected by MUNY (Music Under New York) to receive a licence/permit to legally play on platforms.

For Such a Train as This 

So… Fast forward a few years and here I am today.  A bit removed from the subway music scene; serving The Lord, and just operating in a different space creatively. My brother Dame has been encouraging me to join him on the train to share the gospel though Hip Hop, and although I’ve been eager to, we just hadn’t been able to make it happen, although he’s been doing it on his own, praise God. My wife has also been constantly encouraging me  to get back on the train, but this time to share Jesus. And then It just clicked! My wife and I made up in our mind’s that today would be the day, yet neither of us told the other. So Later after church when she said “you should get on the train today” I was pretty shocked that she had been thinking exactly what I had been thinking. We have a new phrase for this kind of thing, we call it “God-cidental”. So by Gods grace, my family and I prayed, and went for it! I brought my two eldest children with me; Randy to be my drummer, and Ari to film. Contrary to the stone cold faces you may see in the video many people were visibly moved, without a doubt God moved mightily throughout the whole experience. Seeds were planted, others were watered, and God was/is surely bringing forth the increase.  I told my son, “don’t be moved by reactions, or the lack there of. Don’t worry about applauds, or the lack there of. It doesn’t mean anything either way. The real work takes place where we cannot see. In the heart and mind of the people.” Sure enough after a few songs ended in pin drop silence, and all faces seemingly either displaying disapproval, disagreement, or borderline disrespect, a man got up and encouraged us. Not only encouraged my kids and I, but basically gave the entire train cart an exhortation. You can’t make this stuff up. Super proud of my kids, and the courage God gave them to be able to be bold enough to participate in this ministry.

TRAINSFORMERS

Trainsformers is something like NYC’s first underground (and sometimes above ground) mobile church. Transforming lives, and atmosphere with the love of God through Hip Hop on NYC trains. Pray for this ministry, that it be fruitful, and that the enemy forever be in retreat as we go forth sharing the gospel. God bless.

Randy Mason Interview on Bronxnet Television

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Super grateful for this opportunity. It was especially interesting watching the show unfold live from the sideline. Mega props to Daren Jaime and crew for their professionalism, and straight up skill! Everytime they started counting down 10, 9, 8- all the way down to 1 I felt like I might explode from all the nevres. Although super nervous, I had a great time, and am very grateful for the warm welcome and love shown by the staff. Click the link below to watch the full interview.

http://www.bronxnet.org/open-vidoes/featured-interviews/viewvideo/5452/open–featured-interviews/using-hip-hop-to-heal