the take

Just How Bad of a Rapper Is Aretha Franklin’s Son?

Aretha at Friday’s Radio City show.
Not pictured: Kecalf Cunningham.Photo: Getty Images

From the Times’ write-up of Aretha Franklin’s Saturday-night Radio City gig, we learn that she has a Christian-rapping son, Kecalf Cunningham, who performed at the show. The Times said he “came with a backpack, a hoodie and some cheap-sounding recorded tracks,” and that it was “a relief” when he left the stage.

Obviously we’re supposed to understand that he is a terrible rapper. But how terrible? Shaq-Fu terrible? (“Ali ali baba / Tell your pops and your momma / That Shaq is the man, period comma.”) Or just average Christian-rap terrible? (“People say I’m strange / Does it make me a stranger / That my best friend was born in a manger?”*)

Cursory research suggests the possibility that Kecalf Cunningham may actually be the Shaquille O’Neal of Christian rap — that is, he’s been allotted rap resources for reasons other than rap aptitude. He doesn’t have songs on iTunes; he doesn’t have songs on MySpace; no images of him appear on Google Image search or on Flickr; “Kecalf Cunningham rap” produces nine hits on Google. (Hell, looking up us and “rap” produces 228 hits, and though we like to think our freestyle game is tight, the theory has never been publicly tested.) Perhaps one reason he’s not down with Internet music distribution is that, as far as we can tell from biographical clues, he’s at least 37 years old.

A Christian rapper who came of age in the late eighties … there’s a lot of potential here. We could be talking some serious, sub–”Rapper’s Delight,” “hippity hoppity bippity boppity and you don’t stoppity”–level shit, only with 100 percent more Bible talk. Did you see the show and write particularly egregious lines down on your hand? Let us know in the comments! If you don’t, we will be forced to make up our own imaginary inept Christian raps, record them in the office “wellness room,” and post them here. —Ben Mathis-Lilley

Aretha Franklin’s Evening [NYT]

* For those of you that didn’t attend a highly evangelized midwestern high school in the mid-nineties, that’s a line from “Jesus Freak” by seminal Christian rappers DC Talk.

Just How Bad of a Rapper Is Aretha Franklin’s Son?