the circular runner

A Little Secret: KIA Soul really has Soul…or at least the song on the commercial does

In media, Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 12:32 am

OK, I know nothing about rap. Also, as a rule, Christian pop of any kind usually makes me itch. But the other night, I was thinking about that Kia commercial with the hamsters with the rap song on it (turns out there are actually five different versions.) After doing a little research, I found that there are other people who also spend (waste) their time thinking about music on car commercials. After a couple minutes looking through websites, I found the song I wanted. It’s called “The Choice is Yours” by an artist named KJ-52 (you say the numbers separately, as in 5-2.) Of course, being a little ADD/OCD, I had to dig further. It turns out that KJ, or Mr. 5-2, is not just some Eminem wanna-be, as I assumed. Actually, he is a Christian rapper and the choice that the song refers to has nothing to do with buying cars; rather it’s about free will and salvation through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior.

If you haven’t seen the ad, I have it above. Basically, there are a bunch of people dressed like hip-hop hamsters (I have no idea why) and they drive around some downtown somewhere while listening to Mr 5-2’s song. I couldn’t care less about the car, but the song is catchy. For those of you old enough to remember, think De La Soul. The sample is simple, just a catchy acoustic bass line with a jazz-feel over an almost silly chorus that repeats throughout most of the song–which also reminds me of De La Soul’s The Magic Number . SO the song is great (at least for someone who doesn’t like rap unless it has a good sample behind it) and everything is fine with the world. Right?

NO. The honest truth is that I cannot abide the fact that I like this song (and worse, that I spent .99 on it.) At first, I thought my lack of ease was due to the song being Christian. I have a real aversion to Christian pop, but not knowing that Christian rap was a category, my experience of Christian popular music has been limited to the pop/rock variety. Living in San Francisco, I need to go to AM radio to hear this kind of music, but once I get out into the heartland (most places that aren’t cities) almost every other station plays Christian rock. The music often sounds like any other pop/rock song. There are guitars and drums and bass-lines, but once the singer starts, you know there’s something not right. It’s all too earnest and emotional to be normal, atheistic, rock. (As a general rule, if you understand every word the singer is singing, you can be pretty sure it’s Christian.) It’s not what they’re saying that puts me off. I don’t mind people expressing piety; it’s just how it gets done. Maybe it’s the cynical Catholic in me, but really, I think it’s just who I am. Though I’m Latino, my views on religion are kind of Midwestern: I don’t talk about my beliefs to strangers (except you, my blog-reading public, but that’s different.) Maybe it’s really not Midwestern, but I’ve been told that Midwesterners don’t like to express their emotions freely, and that’s how I feel when it comes to religion. I guess I just think faith is personal and if you’re spending too much time talking about your beliefs (or wailing about it on the radio) then I start wondering why you aren’t doing more about it. Mr. 5-2’s song, on the other hand, works for me precisely because the message is subtle enough that it can be ignored if you want to. That said, if you pay close attention, you will see that the man found a way to combine the words Yahweh and Party People in one song. Maybe that’s why Mr. 5-2 is ok in my book. He’s not all emo about Jesus. He’s just rappin’ about the Big Man, the Big MC in the sky.

Fine, ok, so then if it’s not the Christian message, then why am I a little (a lot) embarrassed that I like the song? I think if I dig deep into my soul, I’m left with the sad truth that the song is kind of cheesy. I mean it’s great to sound like De La Soul–if it were 1987, it would be great at least. On his Tweeter account (yes, I did research the guy intensely) Mr. 5-2 says he loves God, hip hop and the 80s, so I shouldn’t be surprised that he sounds a little 80’s himself. KJ-52 is true to his passions. His music reflects them, and you have it congratulate him for putting it out there.

That said, I guess I should do the same.

Yes, I think will.

Mr. 5-2, I’m going to follow your lead and make my own proclamations: I love outdated rap; I love your music (I actually like other songs on the album) and I’m going to act accordingly. Tonight, I will spend 6.99 and buy your whole album. God bless you, Mr. 5-2 for helping me get through this, and God help my wife, who I will make listen to you often.

  1. He LOVES this song too! In this version of the song I relate the most to the Posh hamster, removing her sunglasses to judge the soul hamsters. I hope you are well. I miss the cat.

  2. If you like that song you might also like Black Sheep.

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