“GUVNA B has always stood out for me as . . . the kind of artist your parents would want you to listen to,” BBC Radio 1Xtra’s DJ Ace says. This strikes me as a compliment that many rap artists would not welcome; for, to quote Bill Adler, a music journalist and promoter, “Rap is the rock’n’roll of the day.” It is, he says, “about attitude, rebellion, a big beat, sex,and, sometimes, social comment”.
London-based Guvna B is unconventional in that he uses rap to express his Christian faith. Twice winner of MOBO (”Music of Black Origin”) Awards, he was the first UK rapper to top the official Christian and Gospel Albums Chart. Having performed with mainstream and Gospel artists at the highest level, he regularly features in broadcast media. He is ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, the A21 Campaign, and Compassion UK. Guvna B (his real name is Isaac Borquaye) has written Unpopular Culture to encourage his growing number of young fans to share the faith motivation behind his music. “Let’s not settle with being products of our culture, reflecting the same values and desires as the masses around us,” he writes. “We’re game-changers, revolution-makers, instigators. Popular culture has had the limelight for too long. It’s time for unpopular culture to take the stage.”
Accessibly formatted for the social-media generation, the book’s brief chapters draw on stories from Guvna B’s life and career, each illustrated with photographs of himself, family, and friends in their urban environment. Writing conversationally, on topics around self-identity and “the quest for success”, he engages scripture to inspire his readers to find purpose and passion in influencing culture for God. “It’s time to flip the script, to demonstrate another way to live, to find freedom in going against the grain,” he tells us.
For anyone working at making disciples of young people in the rap culture, this is a fine resource.
The Revd John Davies is Rector of the Cam Vale Benefice, in the diocese of Bath & Wells.
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