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The following is an excerpt from Bradford William DavisWashington Post article, “Southern Baptist retailer removes black hip-hop artist’s album that includes the word ‘penis’” | READ full article on

Popular hip-hop artist Sho Baraka has taken aim at Southern Baptist retailer LifeWay Christian Stores for dropping his album for including the word “penis,” a move that shows a growing tension between the black artist and his white evangelical fans.

A spokesman for LifeWay confirmed the retailer’s decision, saying in an email that customers complained about the language, but the representative declined to provide further details.

Christian bookstores don’t usually place rap albums by black activist artists front and center on their shelves. But in recent years, white evangelicals have embraced several black hip-hop artists such as chart-topping rappers Lecrae and Trip Lee, whose albums are sold on LifeWay’s website. Baraka, who was once part of Lecrae’s Reach Records label, said he upset LifeWay customers by including the anatomical reference in his album.

His album The Narrative (buy) debuted in the top 10 on iTunes last fall and was once described with high praise on LifeWay’s product page as “saturated in a Gospel worldview.” But, Baraka said, the retailer pulled his album last month after customers objected to the final track, which includes the lyrics:
I was an insecure boy who just thought he was a genius
But always pissed off, that’s because I thought with my penis
It’s all strategic, I’m just asking us the reason
Share my faith on the track, I’m just exorcising demons

Baraka said the song in question, “Piano Break, 33 A.D.” (a reference to Christ’s death), is about his past failures to live his life monogamously. It wasn’t profane in context, Baraka says, because it communicates how “God has been good in my life,” while acknowledging “how wretched and evil I am.”

“Like any retailer, LifeWay has a responsibility not to carry resources with content our customers consider inappropriate,” spokesman Marty King wrote in an email. “After receiving complaints about some language in The Narrative CD, LifeWay decided to no longer carry it.”


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