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Rap Battles and Sing-offs

Wednesday - January 6th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 1:19-20

Do you see someone who speaks in haste?

There is more hope for a fool than for them.

Proverbs 29:20


"Rap artists have maintained a tradition of having rap battles. They duel with each other by writing lyrics or improvising lyrics on the spot to insult or criticize each other. There are even organized leagues that create competitions for rap battles. While most rap battles are just good fun, some turn violent. Occasionally, battles between rappers have gotten so heated that physical altercations and gunfire break out among them.


The roots of rap battles and sing-offs go back into the rich traditions of some ancient cultures. Inuit groups (indigenous people groups in the arctic regions) used ridicule in the form of song duels as a means of conflict resolution. Two men who had failed to resolve a conflict by other means would separate and spend time secretly composing derisive songs about their adversary. The whole camp gathered in the community's largest igloo to observe the song duel.


The original offense that brought about the anger-filled conflict between the two men often got forgotten by the time the song battle took place. Even if the initial conflict had not been forgotten, by the time the men wrote and then performed their songs, most of the anger they held toward each other had subsided. If rage still filled either or both men, their accountability to the community through the song battle often exposed how silly their angry conflict had been in the first place.


Proverbs 29:20 says, "Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them." By removing the haste with which angry people exchanged words, the Inuit tradition caused angry people to slow down, take a deep breath, and consider their words - and ultimately, the silliness of their anger. Words expressed in frustration and rage cause us greater grief and inflict unnecessary pain on others. Sometimes those who get hurt the most are the people we love the most.


It is no wonder that James reminds us that everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Maybe you are like me, and your words can get you in trouble at times. Maybe you say things before thinking about their emotional and personal impact on others. Take the time today to think through your reactions and responses toward others. Pause for fifteen to twenty minutes before you reply to that irritating email or post your comment to that frustrating social media post.


We don't necessarily need rap battles or sing-offs to slow us down and think through the words we use in times of frustration or anger. But we do need to slow down, listen to others, and then speak.


Words uttered in times of anger rarely help us or others. Let's be quick to listen and slow to speak today!

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