Friday, August 11, 2023

Hip Hop Celebrates 50 Years

I said a hip hop, Hippie to the hippie,
The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it
To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,

To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.

With these words from the song “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill gang a new genre in music began that would capture generations to come.  “Hip Hop” would be born.  Hip Hop is believed to have been born in a housing project in the Bronx on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue on August 11, 1973.

Here, a resident named “DJ Kill Herc” used the building’s community center to host parties.  During one party he scratched records and began to “rap” or rhyme over the beat as African American and Puerto Rican partygoers break danced.  Other words used for “rap” are “emceeing” and “spitting.” Together, African Americans and Puerto Ricans united to form this new genre. 

This new music would capture the interest of the Black and Puerto Rican youth of the Bronx and would spread like wildfire throughout the city and eventually the globe.  From there, other rappers adopted the style and began to add to the new genre.  The genre began by using melodies and samples of disco music set in repetition while one rhymed to the beat.  Consecutive rhyming would later be called, “flow.”  Rapper “Rakim” is often given credit for developing this term and using it in his music.

As the genre developed, newer styles were incorporated such as, “The Chant,” “The Syncopated Bounce,”“Straight Forward,” “The Rubik’s Cube,”“2-5-Flow,”“sung rhythmic style,” “percussion-effusive style,” and “speech-effusive style.”  Each past and present rapper uses one or more of these styles in his or her music.  Hip Hop would eventually be divided into two “schools”, the Old and New.  The Old School Hip Hop uses basic rhyming with words that have fewer syllables while the New School uses more complex rhyming and more syllables with a faster tempo.

From the Sugarhill Gang, Rakim, Afrika Bambaataa, Run DMC, MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, the Bestie Boys to Notorious BIG, 2pac, NAS, Eminem 50-cent, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and Jay Z; Hip Hop has grown into a huge global cultural force.  Rapper “Eminem’s” success has shown that the genre is not exclusive to African Americans and Latinos, but also non-Hispanic Whites.

The genre has often been criticized for its dramatic transformation from a simple way of using words with music for fun, to the glorification of violence, misogyny, hedonism, and sexual perversion.  Some attribute this to record labels attempting to profit from using this glorification to sell the music.  Nevertheless, the music has also been used to spread the Gospel.  Both Protestant and Catholic Christians are using the genre to promote the Gospel and Christian values.  We will touch on this more as the article reads along. 

The House of Hip Hop was built with five foundational elements:

  • MCing (Oral)
  • DJing (Aural)
  • Breakdance (Physical)
  • Graffiti (Visual)
  • Knowledge (Mental) 

Recently, rapper Busta Rhymes said that Puerto Ricans and Blacks created Hip Hop. This brought some in the Black community to attack him claiming that he was "erasing" Black people from the genre. This is far from the truth. We cannot deny that Puerto Ricans were heavily involved in the creation of Hip Hop. What Busta Rhymes said is correct in regard to Puerto Ricans and African Americans in The Bronx.  Those of us who grew up in the Bronx can attest to this fact including the pioneers of Hip Hop.  This does not take away from African Americans. 

Puerto Ricans are mixed with Africans and it is safe to say that most African Americans are also mixed and not purely "black" due to slavery and the horrors of it and other factors.  So no Black person should feel erased or disrespected.  Puerto Ricans and Blacks have always been ONE force fighting against oppression and racism.  This will never change. Before Hip Hop, Puerto Ricans on the island since the time of colonization engaged in "battle rhymes" to acoustic drumbeats (African/Taino) and guitars called "Controversias" or "controversies" in English.  They "dissed" each other using these African-Taino beats and guitars as background repetitive music.  It was all in good fun though.

In my old neighborhood in Belmont, there was the Rocksteady Crew. They were a group of Hip Hop break dancers, artists, and rappers who were Puerto Rican and contributed to Hip Hop in its early days. They were even involved in "Westside Story" type altercations with the local Italians who often frowned upon the presence of Puerto Rican in the neighborhood. 

At times, there were fights on the streets with dozens of youths, both Italian and Puerto Ricans beating each other up into a pulp in the area of Crotona Avenue, 182nd and 183 Street. Most lived at 692, where my family lived at the time. 

We cannot ignore the many pioneers who help create Hip Hop who were Puerto Rican. I am sure some younger Hip Hop fans probably never heard of them.  DJ Charlie Chase, Tracy 168 whose graffiti has been documented on subway cars, Errol Eduardo Bedward known as "Pumpkin" who produce jams and beats in the 1970s, The Rocksteady Crew, The Mean Machine, The Real Roxanne, Shabba-Doo is known for his break dancing, Ruby Dee, Dj Disco Wiz, and many others. Hip Hop was not just created by African Americans. In reality, no one owns it. It belongs to all people. This is why it has branched out throughout the whole world. The genre is heard and has been adapted around the world to different languages, beats, and cultures. 

Women have also found success in the genre of Hip Hop, here are just some of the great rappers who are female: Roxanne Shante, Missy Elliot, Salt N Pepa,  Ivy Queen, Sha-Rock, Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, Foxy Brown, Da Brat, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil’ Kim, MC Lyte, Remy Ma, Doja Cat, Eve, M.I.A., Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks. Hip Hop is probably the only genre in which women have had a stronghold and have found equality. The women were just as good as the male rappers and amassed fandom from both genders. However, before all these great female rappers were the Mercedes Ladies, Baby D (D’Bora), Sherri-Sher, RD Smiley, Zina-Zee, DJ LaSpank, Eve-a-Def, Sweet P, and Sty-Sty. They were the first all-female group founded around 1976 and were the female counterparts of Grandwizard Theodore and the L Brothers. As a group, they performed with Kevie-Kev, Master Rob, Busy Bee Starski, Bambaataa, Red Alert, Kool Herc, the Furious Five, The Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmixer DST, and several others. Though they never achieved success in the record business due to many labels not feeling comfortable investing in women, the Mercedes Ladies were instrumental in paving the way for the many female rap artists we know today and who made it big.

DJ LaSpank whose real name is Gail Hall found new success as a Gospel Hip Hop DJ. She now goes by DJ Flame and hosts a program entitled The Anointed Mic Check on WHCR on the grounds of City College, CUNY. After committing to Christ, she now promotes what she calls Holy Hip Hop, as well as, Gospel music. DJ Flame has been promoting the Gospel via Hip Hop for decades. I remember running into her show late at night when I heard her intro which uses the original Star Trek show's music. I was a young nerd from the Bronx and thought it was a show about Star Trek. However, when I heard the music, I got hooked and have been listening ever since. You can listen every Wednesday morning from 4 AM to 8 AM. She has been featured in many other Bronx-related Hip Hop events and even hosts a Holy Hip Hop session at a Bronx Cafe once a month on Hunts Point Avenue. 

Like the Gospel, Hip Hop has gone viral and has spread to every corner of the globe. Christianity has made use of Hip Hop to further the spread of the Gospel. Many Protestants and Catholics are using the genre to further the message of Christ and the Gospel. Lycrae and T-Bone are among the most popular Protestant Holy Hip Hop artists, and Fr. Stan Fortuna, CFR, Akalyte (formerly MC Just), Fr. Pontifex, and MC Dewey are some of the Catholic Holy Hip Hop artists. Newer Catholic artists such as FoundNation, Nico Santana, Sammy Blaze, Move Merchants, John Levi, RabelzTheMC, Be The Symbol, Communion, and many others are using social media to promote their work. I myself used Hip Hop music in the early 2000s at St. Dominic Church as "Sacerdotus" along with Jesse, Daniel, James, and Jose during my youth ministry days. 

DJ Flame

The genre is attractive to the youth which makes it a perfect instrument to spread the Gospel of Christ in this generation and those that will follow. While not expected to reach the fame and glory of secular Hip Hop, Holy Hip Hop is certainly doing what it is intended to do: preach Christ. Many young people adopt the message of the Gospel better via this genre than by listening to a homily or traditional sermon. Holy Hip Hop has certainly been instrumental and has been used at youth events including the World Youth Day. During his pontificate, St. Pope John Paul II even had break dancers perform for him. 

Despite some negative aspects in the genre which were never the intention of the pioneers, Hip Hop has been instrumental in bringing wealth to minorities. Many Black and Hispanic rappers have risen to immense fame bringing with them immense wealth. Jay-Z, P-Diddy, and 50 Cent are among those who have amassed billions in their careers. These have branched out into other enterprises showing the power of the Hip Hop movement. The genre is so popular that it has replaced Classical music as the mainstream track in many films today. It has also been used to help educate students with teachers using bars to teach students math, history, and even science.   

Tonight, the New Yankee Stadium will host a Hip Hop Concert featuring many of the pioneers of Hip Hop including those in the middle and new schools. It is sold out!  This is a testament to the success and popularity of Hip Hop.   

Today the genre celebrates 50 years and is believed to be losing its popularity due to artists who are not as attractive as those in the past as well as the commercialization of the music.  Originally, the music was used for fun and then became a platform to voice the problems of those growing up in the “hood” or urban areas.  Today it is used to make profits by artists using gimmicks to entertain audiences.

Despite the changes in the genre due to commercialization, it continues to be a beacon for many of all races, genders, and cultures. While the golden age was in the 80s, 90s up to the mid-2000s, Hip Hop continues to be a force in popular culture and will continue to be so.  Hopefully, it will return to its days when it was formed in the Bronx when it was a simple form of expression that was built on having fun.  Hip Hip to Hip Hop!


Book: "From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity"by Professor Juan Flores who taught Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Libidinous Youth at World Youth Day 2023 Seeking Sexual Hookups on Gay App Grindr

World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal has just been completed. The theme according to the website is this: 

"«Mary arose and went with haste» (Lk 1:39) is the bible quote chosen by Pope Francis as the motto of the World Youth Day that will be held for the first time in the capital city of Lisbon, Portugal. The biblical phrase (a quote from the Gospel of St. Luke) opens the account of the Visitation (Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth), a biblical episode following the Annunciation (the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God, and the theme of the last WYD, in Panama).

During their conversation of the Annunciation, the angel also tells Mary that her older cousin, thought to be sterile, is pregnant. After affirming to the angel ” Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word ” (Lk 1:38), it is then that Mary sets out for Ain Karim, a village near Jerusalem where Elizabeth lived and was awaiting the birth of John, who would become Saint John the Baptist.

Mary of Nazareth is the great figure of the Christian journey. She teaches us to say yes to God. She was the protagonist of the last edition of WYD and will be so once again in Lisbon." (source:

World Youth Day is a big event that brings in hundreds of thousands to even millions of young people from all over the world. It has been coined as the "Catholic Woodstock." Woodstock, for those of you who are not aware of it, was an event in the 1960s held by young people in New York State. These young people gathered, not for Mary of Jesus or even the Pope, but to promote a hedonistic lifestyle of sex, adultery, lust, and drugs.  World Youth Day is supposed to be a counter to this. It was created by Saint Pope John Paul II. I was privileged to have attended his last one in 2002 in Toronto, Canada. I and several others representing the Archdiocese of New York and St. Dominic parish in the Bronx.

I remember it was a huge hardship. It drained all of us. We had to go to daily events all over Toronto in the hot Canadian weather which was a different type of heat from that of New York City. In New York City, we often feel the heat from the concrete. However, in Canada, we felt the heat directly from the sunlight which caused skin burns and blisters! Moreover, we had to walk to most of our destinations.  In fact, we had to walk about 9 or 11 miles to Downsview Park for the Vigil and Mass. It was extremely exhausting. Upon arrival, we had to find a place to camp. Despite being with fellow Catholics, there was a sense of competition with other youths refusing to allow even clergy and religious to camp beside them. They were territorial. That was a huge turn-off. These kids really were selfish. Then, I witnessed nudity, inappropriate kissing, and groping among the youths and even saw some smoking marijuana. I knew it was the drug because being from The Bronx, I am familiar with the acrid smell. 

If that was not bad enough, while online to get water, there was pushing and shoving that got so bad that I had to lose my cool and yell at the people and nearly got into a scuffle with an older man. It was extremely humid and hot, and the stench was unbearable of young body odor after a night in the heat with no showers.  It even rained on us. We were all wet and miserable. After the announcers told us to rest so as to prepare for the Holy Father's arrival in the morning, we were interrupted by rock music and even the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal playing music. We literally got no sleep.  In fact, during the Papal Mass I was falling in and out of sleep.  That was a different kind of World Youth Day. The main difference was the lack of social media. We had cell phones, but they were just to make calls. Some may have had texting capabilities. However, the World Youth Days after 2005 evolved with social media and newer devices.

While there were things that raised flags during World Youth Day 2023 which many Catholics discussed on social media such as the lack of modesty by female dancers, Holy Communion in plastic discount store bowls, comments made by Pope Francis about soccer and everyone belonging in the Church, there was a bigger problem with the Catholic youth themselves participating!  Unfortunately, this added a new problem. 2 Timothy 2:22 says:"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." After World Youth Day in Panama, we at Sacerdotus were informed of young people and even priests using the Gay app Grindr to 'hook up.'  It was appalling and completely contrary to what World Youth Day is supposed to be about. Granted, we all are sinners. No one is perfect, however, as Catholics we expect the people attending World Youth Day to know better; to have more sense than those who are not practicing the faith or any faith.  The Catechism states:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Scripture tells us that sins of the flesh, lust, and so on are not supposed to be part of the Catholic life:

Psalms 101:3

I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.


1 Corinthians 6:13

You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

1 John 2:16

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Galatians 5:16

Walk in the Spirit

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 8:6

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

James 1:14-15

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

This does not mean that flesh is evil or sinful. The metaphor of "flesh" means desires for sex outside of marriage and perverted desires within marriage. Just because one is married in the Church does not mean one can engage in every perversion of sex. Sex and the body are something sacred and meant for the Lord. This brings us back to World Youth Day. Learning that some young people are using the event to explore their bodies and sexuality is disgusting. It is understandable, they are kids with raging hormones. Psychology tells us that our brains are hardwired for the three F's: fleeing, fighting, and fornicating. Some often use a four-letter f-word for the latter!  This is the animalistic part of the human body. We have to survive and reproduce. This makes sense. However, humans are much more than their animalistic side. They are sons and daughters of the Creator. These young teens and young adults going to World Youth Day and going on Grindr defeats the purpose for which they gathered at World Youth Day: conversion and evangelization.

In order to spread the Gospel, one must be converted. Conversion is a process that is ongoing. However, we all eventually meet a point where we are stable enough in our conversion to aptly represent the faith and evangelize. A friend of ours who took a journalistic path sent us screenshots and videos of Grindr profiles showing young men exhibiting themselves seeking sexual encounters with other men. They were not afraid to show their World Youth Day hats, camping sites, passes, or even the location of the Mass. It made me sick to my stomach reading their demands to have oral in bathrooms at World Youth Day with many posting the section "A10 etc" where they were at and using the initials "JMJ" meaning World Youth Day (WYD) in Spanish and other similar languages. They were "cruising," or courting around for a sexual encounter. One even wrote in Spanish that he wanted to experiment with oral sex without his girlfriend knowing. Another wrote in Spanish that he wanted another man to "try out his butt/anus." One even was seeking a priest to "have fun with." Others wrote that they wanted "fun" or "unrestrictive sex." It is just disgusting. One was even displaying his diocese's baseball cap!  It is like they are not self-aware. This is common when the "fornication" part of the brain takes hold. Conscience and reason are set aside and humans think via instinct. This is why humans are sometimes so sexually frustrated or "horny" that they just have casual encounters disregarding the fact that dangerous diseases are out there and spread via sexual contact.  Again, the reason and conscience parts of the brain shut down or become weaker during that moment of heat, so to speak. 

It is no surprise that homosexuality has taken hold of the Church within the hierarchy, however, we are seeing it more out in the open in public Catholic events and among the youth. This is a bad sign. We need to do better.  Perhaps phones and other devices that allow the use of social media need to be banned during World Youth Day to prevent and discourage some people from using World Youth Day as an escape where they can explore and do things behind their parent's backs. Kids will be kids. They will use events as a decoy to do something else. A religious event like World Youth Day is no different and offers no immunity from this. Parishes sponsoring youth for World Youth Day need to speak to these young people about the proper teaching of the Church regarding sexuality and chastity. The Pope's words that everyone is welcome in the Church are not helping either. Many are using his words to claim that the Church is a free-for-all. Pope Francis did expound on his world while returning to Rome stating that they are welcome but must behave within the rules of the Church.  Most likely, these words will go on deaf ears and will not be circulated by the media. 

In any event, the behavior of these young people cannot be tolerated. They are tarnishing the Catholic Faith, Our Lord and Our Lady, especially in Portugal where she appeared in 1917 as Our Lady of Fatima. They are leading with scandal and not faith. No one will want to be a Catholic with the way they are giving representation! This obstinate display of mortal sin is not what being a practicing Catholic is about. 

Parents, please check your kid's phones!  If they are going to a retreat or World Youth Day, ban these perverted meeting apps!  Pastors, ban them on the pilgrimage. Organizers of World Youth Day, ban them altogether during the week of World Youth Day or we will continue to lose the youth to sexual perversions and will bring about more scandals the Church does not need.  We Catholics all have the word "hypocrite" on our foreheads as is and do not need the words in neon shining bright! Here are some of the profiles we were shown. The eyes were blacked out to give privacy to these troubled libidinous youth.  If you know them, please give them some fraternal Christian correction. Do not shame them. We all make mistakes. Please pray for them that they will truly respond to God's grace.  Pray for those who disregard sexuality and their bodies on Grindr and other perverted apps.  As Jesus said on the Cross, "They do not know what they do.." 

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