At the end of last month, the rap and hip-hop artist Flame released his latest EP, Christ for You, a follow-up to his 2020 EP, Extra Nos. Extra Nos surprised many as Flame, previously largely influenced by John Calvin, was now professing and defending several changes in his doctrinal understanding. The song “Scattered Tulips” gives a nod to the history and the benefits received from the Calvinist perspective but makes it clear he now finds doctrinal clarity elsewhere.
Prior to the release of Extra Nos, Flame completed a master’s degree in theology from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. The influence of his studies at a Lutheran institution was very evident in his work, giving shoutouts to seminary professors and almost giving a lecture at points throughout the record. The influence of his studies continues in his latest release, Christ for You, where he addresses the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Through the course of the record, Flame gives the listener a historical, biblical, and doctrinal overview of the Lord’s Supper, even taking time to point out some flaws he sees in differing understandings of what takes place in the meal.
Flame sites the Book of Concord as one of the most influential books on his recent work. There is no doubt this is true. When it comes to the Book of Concord, there are really two types of people: those who read the contents and see a series of rap albums, and those who aren’t Flame. He successfully and artistically weaves church history and doctrine together all while maintaining catchy hooks and musically interesting songs.
Just like in Extra Nos, in Christ for You, Flame lays out his main thesis in the title and then spends of the EP backing it up. He continues to remind the listener that the Christian’s righteousness comes from Christ, outside of oneself. The listener is reminded that Christ gives himself, his body and blood, for you.
The title track on the record, “Christ for You” begins with a critique of contemplative spirituality. Lyrically, the track points to the fact that our hope is not in the whims of our spiritual meanderings, but in Christ, who is outside of us. Christ invites us to partake of his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. The catchy hook sums it up nicely “I know you by name, yes I do... Lord’s Supper, bread and wine, it’s for you.” Instrumentally, this track has a mysterious vibe about it, coinciding with the mystery of the meal.
Each song on the record essentially approaches the Rapper’s core thesis from a different angle. The last song on the record is no different. In “Sounds Crazy” Flame points out what he sees as a flaw in reasoning. The Christian professes belief in Christ’s two natures: Christ as completely divine and completely man. We confess belief in the miracles of Jesus, in his virgin birth, and in the veracity of his Scriptures. Why, then, do we find it difficult to confess the Lord’s Supper as Christ’s true body and blood? Flame argues that just because something seems crazy to our human mind doesn’t mean it is impossible. In fact, our faith is built on something that “sounds crazy,” and yet has been promised to us.
While this record is enjoyable to listen to, unpacking the lyrics could take the average parishioner a bit of time. Thankfully, Flame is compiling resources specific to this record for the listener to dive deeper. You can already find lyrics for the entire album on his site here. If you are being driven away from this album due to how theological it is, fear not. While this album is thick with theological education, one almost can’t help but start to dance as they listen along. And if you are taking a pass because you prefer genres other than rap, do yourself a favor and give it a listen. You won’t regret it.