Let me preface by saying I’m an ally and defender of the music and ministry of Kirk Franklin. I’m a ride-n-die disciple of Gospel music’s most recognizable figure of our era. When The Reason Why We Sing rocked the church like a seedy scandal, I was there. When Stomp stamped all over the customs and proclivities of contemporary Christian music like a wild beast, I bopped my head like a gangsta with a grill.
Kirk has been the soundtrack to my Sunday morning experience for a generation. In fact, if I have to keep it real, Franklin has configured his way into my weekly musical playlist like a famous, freelancing DJ for over two decades. That title doesn’t go to Jay Z, not Pharrell Williams, not Cee Lo Green. The ‘Golden Boy’ of Gospel music has entertained, inspired and uplifted me like none other.
His music and genius has captured my imagination and characterized my Christian experience the best. And that’s not all. There’s one more feather to add to Kirk‘s cap. The brother is so open and honest. He wears his struggles and mission as a minister of the Gospel like a badge of honor. There’s nothing and no one too sinful or too sordid he won’t share and join for the greater good, which is winning souls.
Ditching convention to the curb, Kirk has collaborated and kicked it with a wide spectrum of artists. From Bono to R Kelly, from Salt to Jill Scott to Stevie Wonder, Kirk has hit us with an array of artistic alliances that advance the Kingdom, come what may…which brings us to Kirk Franklin‘s cameo appearance on Kanye West‘s latest project, The Life Of Pablo.
Social media was in a frenzy as pics emerged showing Kirk Franklin in studio with Kanye West & company. Keyboard assassins went to work on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, having a field day on Franklin, taking verbal wacks like a pinata at a party. Adding fuel to the fire, the word was Kirk Franklin is credited on Kanye‘s opening number, some have loosely described as a ‘Gospel’ track, Ultralight Beams.
Now, I get the concern among Christians, cries of compromise, lectures about a lukewarm ministry that’s lost its way. I totally get it. It’s hard to haggle over the claims. Unlike previous Frankin collaborations which saw Kirk in firm control of the finished work, this joint was a Yeezyproduction to startle your senses and short-circuit your spiritual sensibility. For a so-called Inspirational track, Kanye let it rip. Obsenity and offensive race slurs tacitly stirred into the mix for more mayhem. Not a good look for the the Franklin brand.
Before I pulled out the nails like the next, no-nonsense conservative Christian and hammered Kirk to the cross, I wanted to hear Kirk‘s comments on the quirky collabo with West that risked going ‘south…and his comments quelled my concerns.
In the Christian Post, Kirk said the following, “As a Christian I’m trying to be what God wants me to be to whoever, and nobody is beyond receiving Him. Nobody’s unforgiveable or unredeemable.” Two biblical texts jump out at me. I Cor. 9:22 “…I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” and Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
It’s a closed issue for me. The controversy has been reduced to nothing more than food for fodder on the world wide web. Social media will have to keep it movin’. On the real, has Kirk lost his religion? I doubt it. Has Kirk lost his way with the Lord? Certainly not. Franklin‘s latest project –Losing My Religion – is evidence of an unwavering warrior for Christendom, a mortal man on a mission for his Maker. So don’t throw him to the wolves. His work is incomplete and his condition inmaterial, but one thing is certain. Kirk Franklin is at the cutting edge of music and ministry in this very complicated, new millennium.