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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spreading the Gospel hip hop style

By Dennis D. Muhumuza

It has been a three-year holy roller coaster as LVC members represented Jesus in the hip hop culture. LVC is an acronym for the Levite Clan, a music ministry whose members - Renee DA PREACH Emcee (Tumukunde Richard) and No Hell 01 (Ivan Wobusobozi) have passionately challenged the youths to shun the negative lures of worldliness.

"We are like watchmen on the graffiti wall of youth culture warning against entertainment icons whose bling-bling lifestyle seems right but leads to destruction," says Renee Emcee who recently returned from Canterbury, England where he spent three months as an urban youth missionary.

The group picked a cue from the Biblical Levites who were very well known and highly respected throughout Israel for moving about ministering earnestly in the name of God. So they study the gospel message, apply it to the contemporary world and deliver it in a style and language that urban youths easily relate to and understand.

"Urban youth are the audience that God has commissioned us to reach out to," explains No Hell 01. "Our slogan is 'Taking the gospel to the streets through holy hiphop' and hip-hop is the language urban youth speak."

The Levites who are popular performers at TLC during Gospel Night are particularly concerned about the deceptive message of secular hip-hop on the streets that leaves young people with no honour for God. And to counter that, they fuse holy rap in which they implore the young generation to spurn wrong models and destructive elements of the culture and instead embrace salvation through Jesus Christ.

Through their music, the Levites have ministered in schools, universities, churches, bars, on the streets, and at youth conferences and parties as well as the nations through internet media.

In some songs, they sing in retrospect about their 'bad boy' days when they were married to liquor and drugs, running from school and spending their nights in bars. That was before they saw the light and invited Christ in their lives.

"Now we are taking what the devil tried to use to destroy us (hip-hop) and use it as a prophetic voice in youth culture," says Renee Emcee.

They spot cornrows and dress in baggy jeans and oversize T-shirts. Commenting on the notion that society might misconstrue their sense of dress, the Levites stress that "people should relate to the spirit of the man and not his designer shell."

The group will be launching their debut album, Christ in da Youth Culture, at Calvary Chapel Kampala, located at Gardith House opposite Mutasa Kafero plaza this Sunday, December 16. The 15-track album has been summed as "a challenge to the youths to set their affections on Jesus Christ."

--Daily Monitor, December 14, 2007