Flame on hip hop: ‘Be bold about declaring the truths of the gospel’
Christian hip hop artist Marcus “Flame” Gray, a 2010 graduate of Boyce College, released his seventh album, Royal Flush, earlier this year. In the following, the native of St. Louis, Mo., answers questions about the new album.
How does this album fit with your other albums?
Sonically, the album is a return to the raw hip hop element my core fans want from me. Heavy 808 drums, hard smacking snares, electrifying synthesizers — things that the Midwest and Southern regions of hip hop offer.
Theologically, I maintain the closed fist of truth that comes from the Bible, coupled with the practical advice and implications that my degree in Biblical counseling forces me to consider. The gospel message still dominates and informs my subject matters and conclusions. This is what my fan base has come to expect and appreciate about me. I’m honored to serve them with that consistency.
Overall, it’s a fun record. One of my best, in my humble opinion.
What was your inspiration in writing the song “Believe?”
The song reminds me of a brief creed or doctrinal statement. I wanted to affirm Christian orthodoxy. As I look at the trajectory of American and hip hop culture, I see a straying away from and a lack of tolerance for New Testament Christianity. The temptation is to tweak the gospel message so as to remove the offense. I realize that our faith is countercultural in many ways and can be offensive. However, without adding to the offense, I believe it’s necessary to encourage the body of Christ to stand firm and to be bold about declaring the truths of the gospel. As long as we communicate with love, gentleness and respect, we can say hard things to people and let the Holy Spirit do the persuading. People are really resonating with it.
What do you hope your listeners take away from your new album?
My hope is that 2 Peter 1:3 would become further realized in each person’s life and practices (including mine) as he or she repetitively listens to the album. I want people to leave with the understanding that in Christ, God has set us up to win. He’s given us the highest hand. He has equipped us to live a holy and successful Christian life in every area.