Lyrical Review: Mateke by Size 8 […And Some Tips for the Artist]

The popular local secular singer/actress, Size 8, finally “came out” and confessed that she has been a Christian for a while. For a long time, she had struggled with the apparent contradiction between her music and her faith, and she finally decided to make the switch. As she explains in a recent interview, “I have been born again for quite some time and my songs were in conflict with my faith. As much as I was making big cash and commanding a massive fan base, my heart was not at peace.”

There has been a myriad of reactions concerning her announcement. The pendulum swings from skeptics (believers and unbelievers) who are convinced that she is only in it for the money in Gospel music; to the other extreme of Christians who are unreservedly celebrating the entrance of one more lost soul into the Kingdom. There’s also an apprehensive minority who have chosen to reserve their comments, wait it out and see if Size 8’s new found faith will stand the test of time.

If you’re wondering where I stand in that spectrum, I think these words from Paul best describe my current stand: “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” [Philippians 1:15-18] I do not think I have enough information, or that I am in a position to judge more than that.

The following is what I consider my best attempt at translating Size 8’s first “Gospel” song, titled Mateke. I am aware that in her use of the word mateke (kicks) a lot of meaning will inevitably be lost in the translation. The force of the meaning is lost in the translation, but the message is still clear:

CHORUS:

Jesus has *kicked the devil,

And because of these kicks, I am free.

VERSE 1

Many people saw me, thinking that I was doing okay. Money, cars, shows everywhere. But the truth is that I didn’t have peace. Tears all the time, I was full of sadness. I was distressed, I cried. I was distressed and that’s when Jesus…

(Chorus)

VERSE 2

Back at home, problems are pursuing you. Electricity, water, even your husband has left. Your friends are gossiping about you here and there, where can you go? Do not cry, do not be distressed. Do not cry, say with me now…

(Chorus)

Because of the *kicks of Jesus, the devil has been defeated,

Because of the *kicks of Jesus, all the problems are over,

(Chorus)

There’s really not much to work with here in terms of a review. But I would think twice before using the word “mateke” to describe what Jesus did for us. I know that this may be a case of artistic liberty (metaphor), but I am persuaded that in Size 8’s case, it is more a matter of being a babe in the faith. And it is with that in mind that I would like to offer the following words of advice/pointers to Size 8 or any former secular artist who has met Christ and now wants to praise Him through their music:

  1. GET SOME SERIOUS CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. No, I am not talking about hooking up with other Gospel artists. Even though this may be necessary for the “trade”, it is absolutely necessary that you develop some normal, genuine and “plain” friends who are serious about Christ and will walk with you and keep you accountable in your own walk. If your closest Christian friends are also gospel artists, chances are that you share the same blind-spots and you will only stunt each other’s growth.
  2. BECOME A MEMBER AND SERVE AT YOUR LOCAL CHURCH; If you’re not one already, it is essential that you become a member of a church. I realize that many popular artists rarely have time to be at their churches because they are “performing” elsewhere on Sundays (or they are on at the local TV stations), but it is absolutely necessary that you be an “active” (not just legal) part of a healthy, growing local community of believers. And by serving, I am not talking about being a worship leader (or lead worshiper), I would recommend other less “significant” roles. This may mean turning down many Sunday morning shows.
  3. CULTIVATE A DELIBERATE CULTURE OF PERSONAL DEVOTIONAL READING AND PRAYER. The “personal” here is synonymous to private. You may find it easier to only interact with the word of God through artist workshops, breakfasts and other forms of Bible Study groups, but it is necessary that this habit become your personal passion too. You are not just in it for the sake of appearances. This is a relationship with a personal God. Commune and communicate with Him regularly, at any cost.
  4. STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED. (2 Timothy 2:15) This is probably why you’re using words like “Mateke” to describe the most important thing about Christianity, the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. Studying God’s Word is not just meant to help you in making life decisions and relating with your neighbors, it is also meant to inform how you write your music. Since you will also be doing music as “business”, then you have the responsibility to study extra-hard so that you excel in your writing and not be pressured to compromise doctrine for people-pleasing and sales.
  5. FOLLOW SOME PEOPLE. You have come into the faith at a point in your life where your voice is influential and you have more fans than you can count. But who are you following? This will make it difficult for you to cultivate a disciple or student mentality. But it is absolutely necessary that you learn to submit to the relevant authorities in your life, especially your pastors and local church leadership. There may be some theological differences (as is often the case with pastors and artists) and much wisdom will be required to navigate through them. Seek out Christian women who are much older than you (like your mother) and learn at their feet. Become a student.

These tips are not exhaustive, but it is what I could think of for now. I doubt that Size 8 will get to read this, but I am sure people close to her will do. It is my hope that this post will also help more artists who are making the transition into a whole new lifestyle and worldview in their life and art respectively. No need to set ourselves up for relapses and “backslides”. I thank God for you Size 8, and I wish you all the best. I am praying for you. For real.

For the fame of His name,

Cornell

4 thoughts on “Lyrical Review: Mateke by Size 8 […And Some Tips for the Artist]

  1. Terah

    Ngare, I commend you for the great work! I’ve been reading your blog for the past day and I must say, God is using you. Do not grow weary my brother!!

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