Evangelical Christianity is flowing into the mainstream now more than ever. Rappers and rockers are making hits and making money while spreading the gospel to national audiences. Christian groups can be heard on secular radio, seen on the “Tonight Show” and, earlier this year, the group Third Day played at the Republican National Convention.
But their success doesn’t come without criticisms, and rapper Kanye West, who became a part of this seismic shift in American culture, tells correspondent Bob Simon, why he feels that using the word Jesus in songs offends some people as much as using the n-word would offend others. Simon’s report will be broadcast on
60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY on Dec. 8 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
West has always been in the secular mainstream, producing hits for stars like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. He’s considered a genius at creating what he calls a “dope-ass beat,” but he tells Simon that most of his record industry friends warned him about making the single, “Jesus Walks.” West recalls, “People would be like, ‘Yo, it’s the best song I ever heard, but it’ll never make it on radio,’ and it frustrated me, so the second verse I wrote about how they say you can’t say Jesus on radio…The word Jesus was like saying [the n-word]… It’s gonna offend people for you to say Jesus.”
Others are offended because “Jesus Walks” mixes the names of Jesus and God with curse words. But West says he’s not concerned about those who are
offended for one reason or another because he’s trying to reach a very specific
audience with his song.
Simon asks, “The minute you use those [curse] words in a song, there’s a whole evangelical crowd that isn’t going to listen to you, right?” West answers, “Yeah, but the song is not for them….It’s speaking to the people that I think God is really trying to reach.”
COURTESY OF CBS NEWS: Josh Howard is the executive producer of 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY and David Rubin is the producer of this report.