254. Atonement – Shai Linne
Here is something that many readers may not have realized. Christian Rap music has gone Reformed. Artists like Charlie Peacock, Michael Card, Caedmon’s Call and Wes King have promoted Reformed (Calvinistic) theology in their music in the CCM genre for quite some time, but now Calvinism is all the rage in hip-hop as well.
One of the leading voices in this movement is Shai Linne. His legitimate, creative, provocative and exceptional albums sound more like the Westminster Confession set to beats than the normal street thuggery, arrogant mic claims and social justice pronouncement normally associated with the genre. Let’s face it, how many rap artists use samples from John Piper, CJ Muhaney and Paul Washer?
And the amazing part is just how well it works within the genre. Linne’s skills are obvious and the beats and rhymes are both memorable and legitimate. On Atonement, Linne uses a more “underground” sound than the more pop and groove oriented sound of friend Lecrae (to appear later). But it’s about the message here.
One song that initially does not carry the “theological focus” of the rest of the album is “School Daze.” Here Linne looks at life in high school from a Christian perspective and the feeling of being an outcast when one claims the mantle of Christ.
Highlight include “The Cross (Three Hours),” in which Linne takes the listener back to 30 AD and the scene of the crucifixion of Christ. After describing the scene and the actions according to the Biblical testimony Linne also deals with the act in regards to the theological significance of the atoning work of Christ.
Mission Accomplished has been the most widely praised and often downloaded on You Tube. It is a straight argument for the Calvinistic Doctrine of Definitive Atonement. Linne raps through the classical and contemporary arguments for the position as well as argues against the opposing views.
Finally, “Atonement Q&A” is a call and response (or question and answer) tune where a guest asks Linne questions about certain theological terms (propitiation, sanctification, atonement, regeneration, expiation etc) all set in a strong and memorable melody.
Though not as strong as Lecrae as a rapper, nor as accessible stylistically, Linne has created three very strong works worthy of consideration and ranks amongst the best of the new generation of rappers.