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Hallo again to all.

For 110 years, Billboard magazine has tracked and published charts of popular music and culture in North America*. At our press time, the number one hit on Billboard's 'Hot Rap Tracks' chart is 'Slow Jamz' by Twista.Is this Twista? It includes these lyrics in the third stanza:

When it come to rockin the rhythm like Marvin and Luther
I can tell you when I'm messin wit Kan man and Twist in the Chi
And I be sippin hennessey - play some R&B
While I smoke a b - you can preferably find that I'm a G
And all this (well well well well)
Come wit me and sip on some Evelyn Champagne
You ain't know Twista could work it like the Whispers?
Hit the stop light, move it to some Isaac
His rims still movin so I bump a lil Spinners
While I'm smoking on a b - dippin through the streets
Bumpin r&b - and I got the leaf - on the 23's

As a number-1 hit, this song is clearly successful; it sold many copies and created wealth and fame for its performer. We'd venture a guess that there's not much overlap between the readership of Anglicans Online and Twista's target audience. So do note, as you look over the lyrics, that they contain references to insider knowledge. Phrases like 'I smoke a b' and 'I'm a G' and 'on the 23's' are references to cultural knowledge that the listener or buyer is assumed to have. Using this kind of private language has strong in-crowd appeal, and can help sell more CD's to people who are thrilled to consider themselves members of the fashionable group for whom such jargon is a badge of membership. It's a marketing technique that, managed properly, has worked well for decades, since commercial radio began.

But if you are not part of Twista's target audience, the chances are that you do not find those lyrics particularly inviting, nor do you see in them a welcoming or an invitation to join the group. There is an implication that if you don't know what 'sip on some Evelyn Champagne' means, that perhaps you should be listening to Abba or Tommy Dorsey and keeping your distance from Twista's community.

The US Episcopal Church released a new website recently, and, as with any major change in the Anglican world, there were cries of 'the old way was better' or 'we've never done it that way before.' Twista can measure the success or failure of his rap song by looking at sales figures. How can the US Episcopal Church measure the success or failure of its website? It's not as easy, but it's just as vital.

The 2003 ECUSA General Convention, about which most of the publicity concerned sexuality, passed dozens of resolutions unrelated to sex. One of them was the creation of a new Standing Commission on Episcopal Church Communications. Anglicans Online is heavily represented on that committee; both of us front-page editors are on the committee, as is AO columnist Pierre Whalon.

We understand that the concept of evaluating the quality of communications material is not widely accepted or even understood within the Anglican world, and that in-group jargon is seen as often in Anglican communications as in rap songs. Hoping to start a new trend, the Standing Commission would like your help in a formal assessment of the new US Episcopal Church website and how well it meets the needs of the Church. You can assist in one of two ways, depending on how much time you are able to spend on it. Click here to learn all about it.

See you next week. Not on the 23's, but in I Lent. And with thy spirit.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 22 February 2004

*There are similar magazines in other countries; we mention Billboard because its website is easy to reference.

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