The video for “I’m Straight” opens with powerful words from the Book of Isaiah. Rappers Calvin Cofield and Kimberly Rice-Cofield direct our attention to Chapter 53 and verse 5 – a complex teaching that harmonizes God’s sacrifice, man’s culpability, and the healing power of the Word. The Book of Isaiah was recorded centuries before Jesus walked the earth, but the words anticipate the coming of a Savior. It’s a book of great struggle, but it contains, at its heart, the best news possible for beleaguered humanity.
The Cofields make music in that exact spirit. Their raps are full of the pain of being alive – but they also carry the Gospel within them. They testify to their own challenges and they own their shortcomings, but they never lose sight of the redemptive force of God, and the possibility of reconciliation between mankind and the divine. The passion of their true belief is positively magnetic, and their microphone skills are beyond question. They understand that no verses go harder than the ones in the Bible – and they design their own rap verses accordingly.
From the first beats, “I’m Straight” sizzles. The song rides in on a skittering trap beat, slinky synthesizers, and pianos that are just gospel enough to ground the song in church tradition. Everything else about the track is straight-up modern hip-hop at its most exciting: the big drums, the sense of acceleration, the swagger, the unshakable optimism in the face of adversity, and the traded verses of the talented rappers. Kimberly Rice-Cofield identifies herself with the woman described in Proverbs 31: one clothed in strength and dignity, and who speaks with wisdom and kindness. Calvin Cofield is just as firm in his convictions, and his verses are every bit as incendiary, Separately, they’re a pair of blessings; together, they’re a testament.
Ray Knowledge’s video for “I’m Straight” has all the hallmarks of classic hip-hop clips: the rappers are smartly dressed and aggressively backlit, and they roll through the streets of their native Detroit in a gorgeous red Chevy convertible. What’s different here is the glee on the faces of the emcees in every shot. They address the cameras like the bearers of the precious secret of salvation – one they’ll let you in on, if you open your heart to your neighbor, and raise your hands in praise to God.