“Youth is the engine of the World…” – Matisyahu Miller
I achieved another personal milestone this past weekend. Friday the 15th was my first time playing keyboard in church. In celebration of Youth Day on Saturday, the Youth leadership at His People N1 City invited the youth worship team from my church (Every Nation Stellenbosch) to collaborate on a worship set intended for their annual youth conference.
My friend Raynie (who sang backing and played acoustic guitar on the evening) invited me to play synth. I’m a sucker for a challenge, and seeing as I’ve never done it before; I was immediately down.
The event was called ‘Concealed Freedom’ on the notion that one cannot simply assume another’s spiritual traits based on outward appearance only. The theme of the evening was in keeping with a lot of what went down, and my pre-conceived ideas of something called a ‘youth conference’ and the image of a mass of well-dressed young people boringly staring at an overhead projector, were completely and utterly shattered. This is because kids were stepping up to the microphone and blurting out spiritual truths over hardcore underground beats and in the flow that came most naturally to them: hip hop.
You see, outside of the bubble that Stellenbosch is; there are other forms in various areas making a very unique cultural footprint in the community. His People N1 City provided one of those rare moments where you realise that God isn’t limited by the forms that we use in worship. Any argument about whether or not hip hop or rock or whatever is evil (as I’ve heard from many legalists) pales in comparison to what I experienced as a genuine love for the Father.
Upon arrival at the church on Thursday night for move-in and sound check, we were greeted with a fat hip hop track by resident rapper and youth leader Calvin Gopal, whose CD will be dropping later this year. Calvin was the MC of the event, and it was clear to me that his enthusiasm for worship and hip hop aesthetic had spilled over into the younger generation. These young cats were avidly partaking in a corporate praise and worship session that felt more like a hip hop cipher in some nondescript parking lot somewhere in mid-city Cape Town. These young guys all had a spot to give the audience a taste of their experience of God, and I felt humbled by these humble beginnings. I too had started out in music as a rapper, and in some sense it felt as though that journey had come of age.
It has always been my belief that a form as expressive as hip hop with its power to harness words, is effective enough to alter some aspect of the immediate atmosphere; imbuing the space with the relevant word and more importantly – the spoken Word that brings life.
“Friday night at Amped, Jesus is the One, hanging with my mates, and we just having fun!”
This over a solid hip hop groove provided by event headliner DJ Eazy (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Brother & Brother’s second gig at Kaleidoscope Cafe) made for a very exciting happening. Eazy made it so easy for these guys to flow and unobtrusively kept the fire burning. And so it did.
After this, the Every Nation worship team took to the stage with the assistance of His People’s Patrick February on lead guitar and Calvin Gopal on rhymes. The band consisted of Rudolph Geldenhuys (lead vocals & acoustic guitar), Raynard Stander (backing vocals & acoustic guitar), Rachelle Rabie (backing vocals), Dewaal Nienaber (lead guitar), Shane Sym (bass), Shaun Sym (drums), and myself (keys). It was great to work with all these amazingly skilled people. I experienced a very tangible sense of community and shared vision, and am grateful for the opportunity to explore keyboard playing as medium for spiritual expression.
I think the most overwhelming feeling was that I felt as though I were part of something bigger than myself. Most times in this life it feels like we’re all just scurrying about trying to attain something, for ourselves and at our own expense. This was different, in a way that I can’t explain. When I get the answer – I’ll elaborate.
What be your thoughts?
On a side note, Yamaha keyboards suck.