It wasn't your grandma's style of church music.
It was Christian hip hop. That's right, hip hop music with a message of Christianity and Jesus Christ.
Seven hundred fifty people jammed with rappers Pigeon John and KJ-52 Saturday night at World on Wheels Skate Center in Brainerd.
The concert, sponsored by BAY Ministries, Charter Communications, The Inspiration Network and Steelroots, was the first of its kind to grace the Brainerd area. Although BAY Ministries frequently brings Christian musicians to Brainerd, Dale Kuglin, BAY director, said KJ-52 is one of the biggest acts they've brought in.
"Kids in our area like this style of music," he said.
Kuglin said BAY works closely with Z-100 FM, a Christian radio station out of Pequot Lakes that put a survey on their Web site asking area youths which music groups they'd like to come to Brainerd. KJ-52 was one of the top three vote-getters.
"We went with the band the kids asked for," Kuglin said. "It helps to know what kids want to hear."
Parents acted as wallflowers, hanging at the back of the dance floor and sitting at nearby tables waiting for the mind-numbing bass to come to an end, while hundreds of teenagers stood in front of the stage jumping to the beat of the music.
"What's the real reason to party real hard?" Pigeon John asked the crowd.
"Jesus!" they yelled back.
Although Paul Gazelka, who took his 11-year-old son to the concert, admitted hip hop isn't exactly his kind of music, said he supported his son's interest in KJ-52.
"More than the music style, it's the message they're talking about," Gazelka said.
Pigeon John describes his music as melody driven hip hop with the message that God loves everyone.
Jonah Sorrentino of KJ-52 said he raps about everything from mullet haircuts and ordering fast food to spiritual matters.
"The underlying theme is Christ. That's why I do what I do and say what I say," Sorrentino said.
Emily Marshall, 15, drove with a friend from Bemidji to see KJ-52 in concert.
"You don't have to worry about the lyrics being dirty. It's clean stuff to listen to," Marshall said. "It helps keep my mind clear so I'm not thinking about the wrong things."
Kuglin said he hopes to have another survey on the Z-100 FM Web site, www.z100online.com, within the next couple of months to determine what BAY's spring concert will be.
"We come to a lot of BAY events. It gives kids a positive thing to do," said Jeff Jensen, a youth director at Crosslake Evangelical Free Church, who drove 15 students from his youth group to Saturday's concert.
HEIDI LAKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5879.
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