Earlier this week, folks were shocked and amused to by gospel superstar Kirk Franklin’s exchange with a man on Twitter. Franklin has been stepping boldly out as a (more) progressive Christian than many of his contemporaries. So when he said “I am a Christian who would rather sit at the table with a Muslim brother than ban him from a home that wasn’t originally mine.” in response to Mandarin Molotov’s Muslim Ban, it came as no surprised. What was a surprise, however, is Kirk’s flawless clapback to a cave dweller in his mentions.
When are folks going to realize just because somebody is a Christian, doesn’t mean they are a slouch, punk or pushover? I don’t know why everybody acted all surprised when Kirk Franklin got that simpleton together on twitter. He’s been dropping hints subliminally since 1992 that he will bring it to you in Jesus’ name. Jennifer of WhitleyBrooks.com joins me to remind those of you who think gospel music has gone too far that Kirk has stayed ready for over 20 years.
Till We Meet Again (1992)
Album: Kirk Franklin & the Family
Speaking of peace/piece, we cannot forget this gem. Does it get any more blatant than this? Were you all caught up in peace instead of piece? Ol’ Kirk tried to pull a fast one on us via homonyms. This whole song has two meanings. To his friends and loved ones: It’s about peace and a hint of advice. I love you, be good, see you at the crossroads. The advice? When we are not together, keep your piece on you. But you other jackalopes? When I see you again (and I will), you best be ready. He hit us with the piece/peace homonym again in 1995’s “Silent Night” from the “Christmas” album. You thought it was just a new arrangement. Ever notice how much Kirk emphasized that “sleep in heavenly peace” bit? #StayWoke cause that silence is all you’ll hear when Kirk’s bullets stop.
Whatcha Lookin’ 4 (1994)
Album: Whatcha Lookin’ 4
“Whatcha lookin’ 4, I’m the one you’re lookin’ 4. Whatcha searchin 4, you don’t have to search no further…” “What is this, that I found? Never, ever let me down”
Listen, Kirk could not have made himself any clearer. He came out of the GATE in 1994 with this song and even named the album Whatcha Lookin 4. This HAS to be the Christian version of Knuck if You Buck.” And the WORDS (in the song) came from Jesus. “He wiped the tears so I can see, this is what he said.” Stop playing with me, Kirk DeWayne Franklin! I will not be fooled.
Kirk slid another line in about his sidekicks, Smith and Wesson, too. “What is this, that I found? Never, ever let me down” The man said “Oh would you look at this, it’s my trusty oo-wop.”WHY DO WE HAVE TO SPELL THIS OUT FOR YOU?? Even the way the choir repeats “for, for, for, for for”, it’s like they are DARING you to try it. And then here comes Kirk, all in your face “Whatcha lookin 4, whatcha lookin 4” and his crew in the back, hyping him up yelling “HEEEYYY!!!” They came ready to wreck. You have been warned. He’s got whatcha lookin 4.
Let Me Touch You (1994)
Album: Whatcha Lookin’ 4
Oh so you Tough Tony, huh? You real? Fine, let me touch you and see if you are real. I’ma call you out and test you on this beautifully sung ballad. You can even sense the exasperation and frustration in the song as they call on the Lord to give them strength. You thought they were talking to Jesus? Naw son, that was a old school mama/grandma “Lord, give me strength before I lose me religion” plea. “Jesssuuuss, let me touch you and see if you are real.”
Here, Mr. Franklin explains that he is about that life. But the real question is, are you? Master P posed the same question in the form of “Is you bout it?” Not only is Kirk bout it, he is ready to start the slow singing and flower bringing for you. He probably would even sing at your home going, for a price.
Melodies from Heaven (1994)
Album: Whatcha Lookin’ 4
“Rain down on me”
“Take me in your arms and hold me close”
Now Melodies from Heaven is not as straightforward as Stomp!, but the g is still there. It is just masked with a nice, well, melody but it is an ode to Kirk’s beloved choppa for Christ. It actually seems like it may be a convo between them. The choppa telling Kirk to “take me in your arms and hold me close” and “fill me with your precious Holy Ghost,” but did you realize that Holy Ghost was code for bullets?
Album: God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation
“I promise to stomp, the whole stomp, nothing but the stomp.”
“It ain’t ova, it ain’t ova”
“Makes me clap my hands”
Basically, the whole song is a warning shot. The old guard was ALL in their feelings when Kirk introduced us to God’s Property via Stomp. They were NOT here for bringing the word to a new generation and changes in gospel music. Hippity Hop music AND dancing? Ms. Pearl and Hattie Mae almost choked on the mints they keep in their purses. Anyway, Kirk and crew said looka here, me AND my crew will STOMP on you. In the beginning of the song, they all made it clear that somethings have got them upset. Why are you trying them? Forget shake the devil off, we will stomp the devil out. And we will NOT let it go. This beef right here, is for life! And who doesn’t know what it means when somebody starts clapping their hands at you?
Album: The Nu Nation Project
“What you feelin’, what you want, son?/Who you callin’ to, son?/so don’t be caught slippin’, don’t be trippin’ brother/’cause when I see him, I’m givin it, brother”
Did y’all think it was a coincidence that Kirk opened this song up by quoting a scripture from the end-times book of Revelations? Did you think he was talking about the rapture when he said “they shall hunger no more, neither shall they thirst anymore?” Kirk was preparing to catch bodies in Jesus’ name and we was just a-bouncin’ thinking nothin’ of it. Kirk was over on his Gil Scott-Heron talmbout “do you want a revolution?” We now know revolution is loosely translated to “there’ll be lots of slow singin’ and flower bringin’.”
If You’ve Been Delivered (1998)
Album: The Nu Nation Project
“So while you judging me and you’re buggin me/ Just remember me ain’t no fear in me/ You hearing me?/ You can shout to this, bounce to this/ Clap to this, as long as you don’t question this”
This song seems so innocent at a casual listen. Deep groove with a Rance Allen riff sample floating on the bass line. You’re bouncing cause you know you’ve been delivered from sin and shame. But pay attention, Kirk is dropping hints about the energy of his inner G. Our boy, our nephew, is issuing warnings left and right that we should be paying attention to while we “make my praise the high praise.” He told us that you can run off at the mouth all you want, just remember that he ain’t got no fear. Nor is he afraid to rain down the fire if you question it. Do you think it’s by ACCIDENT that you can rap “Hail Mary” by 2pac over this song? Go ‘head. Try it. TUH!
Let My People Go (1999)
Album: Prince of Egypt OST
“The knowledge inside my mind/Packs heat like a nine”
Rapping over a quintessential 90s funk groove, Kirk reminded us that he was Black, Saved, & Woke. He spends the verse talking about the murder of James Byrd Jr., the rise of single parenthood, and the continued genocide of poor people of color. Here we were, thinking Kirk was just talking in euphemisms about awareness of the systemic disenfranchisement by racism. Kirk was letting us know almost 20 years ago that we ain’t want no problems with him. But did we listen? NAWL.
Looking for You (2005)
“It was hard for me to see your plan for me/And I tried to believe trouble won’t last always…/And then late one night /I read in your love letter that it’s gonna get better…When my enemies tried to come for me/And they thought that my world was coming to an end.”
Kirk “Choppas for Christ” Franklin once again tried to let us know what’s up in 2005’s “Looking for You.” While you were body rolling to the Patrice Rushen “Haven’t You Heard” sample, Kirk was rallying troops for the uprising. Don’t believe me? What do you think he meant when he said this was “to all my people in the struggle”? Kirk was singing about the struggle for Black Liberation right under our noses! Undoubtedly, the ‘love letter’ Kirk is referring to is the word of God. But it’s clear that he meant the Nat Turner translation because I see nothing but someone ready for the rebellion. I have no doubt that what he read in that letter was that the Kingdom suffers violence but the violent take it by force. Or maybe eye for an eye, a life for a life. You see he even mentioned when those enemies tried to come for him. Run up get done up has been Kirk’s motto for a long time.
In case we (and Kirk) were less than clear, let us leave you with one last song and message:
Imagine Me (2005)
This is just the nice, Christian way to say “Picture that”, “I wish a fool would” or “yeah, aight.” CLEARLY we see Kirk trying to let bygones be bygones. He’s letting us know that he’s gracing us with a clean slate. BUT don’t get it twisted. It is a warning, I’m not the one. Don’t try me because not over here, not today!