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Gospel singer Erica Campbell ventured into “trap gospel” with her single “I Luh God” (See her perform it here) and all hell has broken loose in the church.

NPR featured a segment about this new genre of gospel – taken directly from hip hop’s southern-fried branch of “trap music” – and how it’s rubbing gospel purists the wrong way.

Kirk Franklin, whose had the church riled up in the 90s with his new urban-heavy beats, was asked to comment on Campbell’s track, produced by her husband Warryn Campbell.

NPR’s ARUN RATH: What were your thoughts when you first heard it?

FRANKLIN: I just commend her efforts, man. I think that trying to take a message, you know, that’s old as many millennia and trying to make it culturally relevant is always a tough job.

RATH: And as I’m sure you know, there’s been some pretty strong reaction against it. There a lot of gospel music fans – or some – that seem to think that it’s taking the art form where it shouldn’t go.

FRANKLIN: Well, I think that more than anything, man, is that I always try to remember the heart of the person doing it. And I am a very, very good friends with Erica. She has a great heart for God. She has a great heart for ministry. And I just believe that the heart always wins.

RATH: You know, you and Erica obviously have something in common, and that’s the reason why we wanted to talk you, not just because you’re huge in the gospel world, but because I remember, you know, 20 years ago now, you took some heat, as well.

FRANKLIN: (Laughter) Twenty years ago, I was nine years old.

RATH: Well, we’re talking about the ’90s, and you took some heat for bringing the funk into church. What sort of stuff were you hearing from people, you know, when you had some stuff that sounded like there was some hip-hop, there was some go-go, there were some funk?

FRANKLIN: Yeah, well, you know, it was a very hard time because it’s very hard when you hear churches talk about you. And, you know, some people start to question your heart. It can be very hard for you because, you know, you know, you’re in your early 20s. And you don’t really understand what all the fuss is about ’cause you’re doing just what’s real to you, because I came from break-dancing. I came from hip-hop. And I trusted Christ with my heart. You know, he didn’t, you know, have me start listening to George Strait, you know. …So, you know, if you like Italian food before you became born-again Christian, you know, you’re probably still going to like Italian food. There’s nothing wrong with that, you know. I’m trying to make Christ relevant within the culture.

RATH: Did you see the people who criticize Erica Campbell or other styles maybe having a point about, you know, the themes in gospel music deserve respectful treatment. It’s like you wear your Sunday best when you go to church, and so you should have, like, your best language, your best…

FRANKLIN: Yeah. Boo. Boo to all of that. That’s my problem with all of that, man. Boo to what to wear to church and what you can and can’t say. Boo. It’s almost like, you know, who are we? Man, we’re not referees. It’s almost like if you don’t like it, pray for her. You know, man, you know, we’re losing people. The church is losing its power because we stink at how we talk. We stink at how we communicate. Nobody hears love from our voices. They hear the schoolteacher from Charlie Brown’s “Peanuts” – womp, womp, womp, womp, womp. Now, not all churches, not all Christians – because I get beat up by that. But if we let our light shine, that sounds a lot more louder than picket signs and complaints.

Listen to the full NPR interview below:

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15 thoughts on “Kirk Franklin Defends Erica Campbell And ‘Trap Gospel’

  1. Andrea on said:

    I LUV IT!! JESUS WAS RADICAL IN HIS APPROACH TOO OR DID WE FORGET?! HE ENDED UP KICKING THE SAND OF HIS SANDALS AND MOVED FROM HIS OWN HOME TOWN. WE ARE NOT TRYING TO REACH SAINTS WE ARE CALLED TO REACH THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW OR WHO ARE NOT SAINTS. PERIOD. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, ITS OK. LISTEN TO SOMETHING ELSE. I DON’T LIKE ALL GOSPEL, RAP, CLASSIC, ETC. NEXT SIN PLEASE.

  2. gospel music is nothing like it use to be, her voice is beautiful but twerking not with that. sometime you can not bring every thing to every body most people look at the church as god. and a lot of people holy on sunday but does everthing doing the week. just be youself be a gospel singer or sing what is good for your ear.

  3. specialt757 on said:

    And another thing I find truly outrageous and offensive, playing and dancing to “the wobble” in church. I don’t know if these people have ever listened to the words of this song, it has nothing to do with Jesus or God. Pastors and clergy who allowed this in their church need to really rethink their “calling”, it may not be what they think it is.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    You’re absolutely right kates1221, I don’t want to hear a gospel song that people can twerk to. Making songs like the “new gospel” trying to reach the young people is really not the answer. Making a song people can twerk to is all about making money. I heard about the gospel award show in which you are referring and the twerking and am not interesting in seeing it now or in the future. People have just gone too far in what they call “in the name of Jesus” People need to stop playing church and get their act together, you can’t serve to masters…

  5. Beeg1966 on said:

    Church folks are something else, I go to church, hear the word of God and leave. I don’t hang around talking cause Church folks are something else. The people/fans that are having a fit about her song, don’t have a Hell or Heaven to put anyone in.

  6. specialt757 on said:

    This song reminds me of the “great pretender” (trying to be something you’re not). I don’t hate the song and actually like the message. I also think it will reach a younger audience who ordinarily wouldn’t listen to gospel (but only if it’s played on mainstream radio). I do however, think she should stick to what she does best. She has a great voice and I enjoy her music, but I probably won’t listen to this one again unless it’s played on “Walt Baby Love’s Gospel Tracks and I have no choice.

  7. Peggy on said:

    I truly enjoy listening to the ministry of Erica Campbell. Congrats to her for attempting to reach folks that don’t listen to traditional gospel music. For all those holy rollers talking mess, they need to look in their own closet. I’m quite sure there are many skeletons in there.

    • Mac Ben on said:

      1 Corinthian 14:34 and 35…The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church

  8. Melinda Johnson on said:

    there is noting wrong with the way she is praising her god..if you listen..she sound like and old sister in the middle of the circle surrounded by other who field the same way..

  9. I don't believe it on said:

    No Kirk…The church in their “attempt” to reach people by the very thing that hsd them bound is why the “church” is loosing and has lost its power to bring people, young amd old to God.

    • I totally agree, the body of Christ in trying to reach everyone is conforming to the ways of the world in somethings we do as a way to do it I’m not saying only old school gospel/hymns should only be listened to or played on the radio but if I have to look at my radio dial to see what station I’m listening to when I hear a gospel song, clearly something’s not right.

      • THT, you and I don’t believe it hit the nail on the head. Glancing at a gospel awards show, I thought I was looking at the BET awards. I don’t believe it’s statement about the church attempting to reach people by using the very thing that has them bound is just about the most perfect way to express what is happening in today’s church. Btw, seeing a video of a young woman twerking in the choir stand was a little too much for me.

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