Hip Hop is a voice: a voice that openly speaks for the marginalized, the poor, the downtrodden, and those living in oppressive conditions. Hip Hop is an urban sub- and co-culture that seeks to express a lifestyle, attitude, and/or urban individuality. ((I use Hip Hop here as a cultural movement and group. While the normative understanding of “rap” and “hip hop” is that of a musical genre, what I and other scholars contend is that Hip Hop is more than just a specific musical genre. It is, in fact, a lifestyle and way of life; rap, therefore, is what Hip Hop utilizes to shape and send those messages within the culture and group. See Daniel White Hodge, Heaven Has A Ghetto: The Missiological Gospel & Theology of Tupac Amaru Shakur (Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Academic, 2009); Daniel White Hodge, The Soul Of Hip Hop: Rimbs Timbs & A Cultural Theology (Illinois: Inner Varsity Press, 2010); Monica Miller, Religion and Hip Hop (New York: Routledge, 2012); Mark Anthony Neal, Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (New York: Routledge, 2002); Teresa L. Reed, The Holy Profane: Religion in Black Popular Music (Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003); Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1994); Ebony A. Utley, Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta’s God (California: Praeger, 2012); Ralph Basui Watkins, Hip-Hop Redemption: Finding God in the Rhythm and the Rhyme (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011); and Christina Zanfagna, “Under the Blasphemous W(RAP): Locating the ‘Spirit’ in Hip-Hop,” Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology 12 (2006).)) Hip Hop rejects Eurocentric culture and seeks to increase a social consciousness along with a racial/ethnic pride. Hip Hop is also a musical genre that uses rap music as a vehicle to send and fund its message of social, cultural, and political resistance to dominant structures or norms. Thus, rap music is the primary medium of Hip Hop culture that brings definition, value, understanding, and appreciation to the social isolation, economic hardships, political demoralization, and cultural exploitation endured by most ghetto-poor communities. Rap and Hip Hop captures and esteems the ghetto-poor existence, located within many urban enclaves, as valid and real to all ethnic minorities and poor whites. ((The idea and concept of a “Black Jesuz” does not merely pertain to the “race” of Jesus; it also functions as a master signifier of sorts for all ethnicities that are in need of a Jesus that is more relevant and contemporary than that of the dominating white image. I, along with other scholars, also argue that religious institutions – especially Christianity – have largely feared and/or ignored what Hip Hop has had to offer in regard to spirituality and faith development. See Utley, Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta’s God; Watkins, Hip-Hop Redemption: Finding God in the Rhythm and the Rhyme; Zanfagna, “Under the Blasphemous W(RAP): Locating the ‘Spirit’ in Hip-Hop”; Hodge, Heaven Has A Ghetto: The Missiological Gospel & Theology of Tupac Amaru Shakur; and Hodge, The Soul Of Hip Hop: Rimbs Timbs & A Cultural Theology.)) Within this discourse, there is something larger at work: a fundamental attempt to make God more accessible to a people who have been, in large part, ignored by many religious and spiritual entities. ((See Carter Heyward, Saving Jesus From Those Who Are Right: Rethinking What it Means to be a Christian (Minnesota: Fortress Press, 1999); and Efrem Smith and Phil Jackson, The Hip Hop Church: Connecting with The Movement Shaping our Culture (Illinois: IVP, 2005).))
Christina Zanfagna, an ethnomusicologist who studies Hip Hop and religion, claims, “Mainstream hip-hop percolates with unlikely and multifaceted religious inclinations. Despite its inconsistent relationship to organized religion and its infamous mug of weed smoking, drug pushing, gun slinging, and curse spewing, rap music is not without moral or spiritual content…religious messages have always been delivered through a vast array of sounds.” ((Zanfagna, “Under the Blasphemous W(RAP): Locating the ‘Spirit’ in Hip-Hop,” 1.)) Hip Hop is, simply put, a contextualized form of manufacturing and manufactured religious discourse that gives meaning and identity from within and for the people who are its listeners. ((See Miller, Religion and Hip Hop. Moreover, I found that across racial boundaries, individuals between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one understood God and Christian sacred scripture with deeper meaning from artists such as Tupac, DMX, Lupe Fiasco, and Lauryn Hill, than from pastors and reverends, because it “is from their perspective and language.” They were named as “key” spiritual rappers who espoused faith and spirituality connected to the Christian forms of deity (e.g., Jesus, God, Holy Ghost). This data is based on interviews in which respondents discussed the spiritual significance of “top ten” artists between the years 1988 and 2008. See Hodge, The Soul Of Hip Hop: Rimbs Timbs & A Cultural Theology, 192.)) Artists, such as Tupac, act as natural theologians who interpret scripture and comment on it as a T.D. Jakes or a Joel Osteen would do for their constituents; however, Hip Hop pushes past a socially constructed traditional blonde, blue-eyed, Jesus because that form of Jesus cannot relate to the experience of the urban Hip Hopper, and asks for a Jesus that “smokes like we smoke, drinks like we drink, and acts like we act” – a Jesus that “we can relate to in the ‘hood.” ((According to other critical theorists and Hip Hop scholars, such as Monica Miller, Felicia M. Miyakawa, and Ebony A. Utley, the traditional image of “Jesus” has been bearded, white, long haired, and blue-eyed. See Miller, Religion and Hip Hop; Felicia M. Miyakawa, Fiver Percenter Rap: God Hop’s Music, Message, and Black Muslim Mission (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2005); Utley, Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta’s God; James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed (New York: Orbis Books, 1997); Herbert O. Edwards, “Black theology: retrospect and prospect,” Journal of Religious Thought, no. 32 (1975); and Anthony B. Pinn, The Black Church in the Post-Civil Rights Era (New York: Orbis Books, 2002). The societal reinforcement of this image from white dominant culture has been problematic for many in the Hip Hop community; therefore, there is a push to have a form of Christ more contextual and relevant to the context in which Hip Hoppers find themselves (e.g., the ghetto and oppressive conditions from hegemonic systems).)) While most American evangelicals are accustomed to these socially constructed depictions of Jesus, these types of Christological images do not relate to Hip Hoppers in the urban setting. These individuals need a supreme being that is both contextual and relatable, given their nefarious and contentious conditions. This type of contextual Jesus also questions authority, seeks to increase social consciousness, validates and acknowledges that social isolation is valid and real to all in the ‘hood, and every now and then “puts a foot in someone’s ass to tell a muthafucka he real.” ((Hodge, Heaven Has A Ghetto: The Missiological Gospel & Theology of Tupac Amaru Shakur, 14.))
In this paper, I assert that within the profanity and blasphemy, something much more complex is at work: rappers who are wrestling with meanings of life, death, and ultimately the quest for heaven. As an example, I use Jon Michael Spencer’s framework of theomusicology for a close textual analysis of “Black Jesuz” by Tupac Shakur and The Outlawz. I argue that sensationalized images of Jesus are the missing pieces that mediate the growing gulf between traditional Christianity and Hip Hop culture.
The dominant narrative of Jesus as a white, perfect image of deity has proven to be both problematic and offensive to rappers and the Hip Hop community. ((See Cone, God of the Oppressed; Miller, Religion and Hip Hop; Anthony B. Pinn, Why Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology (New York: Continuum, 1995); and Utley, Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta’s God.)) Thus, a contextual, relevant, and appropriate Christ was – and still is – needed to interpret deity and spirituality for the ‘hood. ((The scope of this article does not allow me to expand on the societal conditions that gave rise to this type of resistance. For example, there was a distinct shift in social, theological, philosophical, and even Christological ontology during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s; this shift was partly a result from the ensuing economical change for blacks, but also the reality wherein such societal mantras like “Work hard, and your dreams will come true” were shattered. For a more extensive look into these societal changes, see Harvey Cox, Religion In The Secular City: Toward A Postmodern Theology (New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1984); Allan Jacobs and Donald Appleyard, “Toward an Urban Design Manifesto,” in The City Reader, ed. Richard T. Le Gates and Frederic Stout (New York: Routledge, 1996); John Kendall, “A Ghetto is Slow to Die,” Los Angeles Times, 1975; Charles Murray, Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1984); and Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (California: University of California Press, 2003).)) In the song “Black Jesuz” by Tupac and The Outlawz (consisting of, at various times, Kastro, Komani, Yaki Kadafi [deceased], Napolean, Mussolini, E.D.I. Mean, Hussein Fatal, Storm, and Young Noble), there is an attempt to make a God – which appeared too perfect, too nice, and too white on a social level – more accessible to the ‘hood. Understanding the theological message, tone, structure, and discourse in music is what Jon Michael Spencer calls “theomusicology.” Spencer states that “Theomusicology is a theologically informed musicological study of how music is created, shared, and encountered…it is how a particular people perceives the universal mysteries that circumscribe their mortal existence and how the ethics, theologies, and mythologies to which they subscribe shape their worlds and THE world.” ((Jon Michael Spencer, Theological Music: Introduction to Theomusicology (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), 14.)) In their article, “Theomusicology and Christian Education: Spirituality and The Ethics of Control in the Rap of MC Hammer,” N. Lynne Westfield and Harold Dean Trulear state:
Theomusicology treats black music in a holistic manner and secularity as a context for the sacred and profane rather than as the antithesis of the sacred…As such, theomusicology is a tool for us to move beyond the simplistic notions of “good” and “bad” that are uncritically used to characterize black secular music and especially rap music, and to help us develop an understanding of the meaning system under construction by African American youths. ((Harold Dean Trulear and N. Lynne Westfield, “Theomusicology and Christian Education: Spirituality and The Ethics of Control in the Rap of MC Hammer,” Theomusicology: A Special Issue of Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology 8, no. 1 (1994): 219-20.))
Therefore, within the song “Black Jesuz,” is an attempt to make hell on Earth – life in the ‘hood – more understandable; it is an attempt to create a space for the thug, the nigga, and the pimp to find God, and for some sort of reconciliation of the social environment. ((There will be two forms of “Jesus” used throughout the rest of the article: “Jesus” and “Jesuz.” Note the letter “s” has been dropped to demonstrate the contextualization of the Christ figure for the ‘hood, and the letter “z” at the end of Jesus’ name was added to give a portrait of a Jesus who can sympathize and connect with people who are downtrodden and broken. The letter “z” is consistent with Hip Hop’s vernacular to change words and phrases to fit the context and annunciate words for a Hip Hop community. The “z” also represents a Jesus who is not only “above” in theological discussions, but also “below” in reachable form. The “z” gives new dimensions to the portrait of Christ and validates the struggles, life, narrative, and spirituality for many Hip Hoppers. Tupac and The Outlawz use “Jesuz” to give a more contextual application to their audience. Thus, when “Jesuz” is used, they are referring to the aforementioned definition. See Hodge, The Soul Of Hip Hop: Rimbs Timbs & A Cultural Theology, 141-156.)) The intersection of Spencer’s trinary construct is where the sacred and the profane both reveal themselves in secular contexts – in this case, Hip Hop artists. ((See Spencer, Theological Music: Introduction to Theomusicology.)) Tupac reverses the hermeneutical flow and uses culture – in this case, Hip Hop – to interpret God in a context that is hostile. ((L. Joseph Kreitzer, The New Testament in Fiction and Film: On Reversing the Hermeneutical Flow, The Biblical Seminar (England: JSOT Press, 1993), 17; and The Old Testament in Fiction and Film: On Reversing the Hermeneutical Flow, The Biblical Seminar (England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 24.))
The song is in three parts: 1) the Doxology – giving respect and acknowledgement, 2) the Lament – how is life and love done in this ghetto hell, and 3) the Benediction to “Black Jesuz” – we are searching for a Jesus for us. Tupac opens the song with a call out to a Jesus who can relate (the Doxology): “Searching for Black Jesuz/Oh yeah, sportin’ jewels and shit, yaknahmean?/(Black Jesuz; you can be Christian Baptist, Jehovah Witness).” This is a God whose religious affiliation does not matter: “Black Jesuz; you can be Christian Baptist, Jehovah Witness/Straight tatted up, no doubt, no doubt/(Islamic, won’t matter to me/I’m a thug; thugs, we praise Black Jesuz, all day).” Christina Zanfagna states that “Hip-hop wrestles with the ways in which the hedonistic body and the seeking soul can be fed and elevated in dynamic tension. This wrestling is often expressed through a dialectic of pleasure and pain or recreation and suffering.” ((Zanfagna, 5.)) Here, the search is clear: a Jesus who is “blinging,” without denominational affiliation, and one who can relate to the suffering, pain, disenfranchisement, and historical oppression that they are experiencing. The “thug Jesus” is someone to be praised and a deity figure needed from The Outlawz stance.
Kadafi exegetes his environment with Laments to their Jesuz: 1) it is a nightmare, 2) times are desperate, 3) the form of religion does not relate, and 4) questions if God can relate: “Stuck in a nightmare, hopin’ he might care/Though times is hard, up against all odds, I play my cards like I’m jailin’, shots hittin’ up my spot like midnight rains hailin’/Got me bailin’ to stacks more green.” The visibility of pain and suffering is evident while the assertion to survive and make money is also evident. Can a God who “loves” everyone conjure up a resolution within a “nightmare” situation? The ageless theological inquiry of doubt begins to manifest itself: “Brainstorm on the beginnin’/Wonder how shit like the Qur’an and the Bible was written/What is religion?” Storm follows and raps: “Who’s got the heart to stand beside me?/I feel my enemies creepin’ up in silence/Dark prayer, scream violence – demons all around me/Can’t even bend my knees just a lost cloud; Black Jesuz give me a reason to survive, in this earthly hell/Cause I swear, they tryin’ to break my will/I’m on the edge lookin’ down at this volatile pit/Will it matter if I cease to exist? Black Jesuz.” Storm raises three questions in this verse: 1) Who has the guts to stand beside him in hell? 2) Can we meet at the intersections of the profane and sacred? 3) Is heaven a possibility or even a reality? Tupac, allowing members of The Outlawz to go first, then enters and creates a relatable Jesus – one who can affirm the social isolation and disinherited: “In times of war we need somebody raw, rally the troops like a Saint that we can trust to help to carry us through Black Jesuz, hahahahaha/He’s like a Saint that we can trust to help to carry us through Black Jesuz.” Tupac reminds Storm that surroundings in the ‘hood are similar to war-like conditions, but that there is a saint who can carry “us through.”
Young Noble begins the Benediction – the fourth verse – affirming that race, culture, and religion are different in the ‘hood: “Outlawz we got our own race, culture, religion/Rebellin’ against the system.” Noble keeps the Lament tension intact while still begging Black Jesuz to “please watch over my brother.” This delicate treading with the sacred and the profane is similar to what Spencer refers to as “unreligious people’s quest for the sacred.” ((Spencer, 15.)) Spencer argues that this is a way to understand the nature of irreligious music and the community therein which produces it. Thus, Young Noble, in an irreligious way, is in search of a God who does not flinch in the setting of the blasphemous, heretical, and sacrilegious. ((Monica Miller also argues that within these ostensibly profane areas, religious meaning is still constructed. See Miller, Religion and Hip Hop, 149-175.)) He is engaging in a conversation with Black Jesuz to which the answers of his pain are still yet to be revealed.
In the fifth verse, Tupac discusses the ill effects of a life within nefarious conditions:
To this click I’m dedicated, criminal orientated/An Outlaw initiated, blazed and faded/Made for terror, major league niggaz pray together/Bitches in the grave while my real niggaz play together/We die clutchin’ glasses, filled with liquor bomblastic/Cremated, last wishes nigga smoke my ashes/High sigh why die wishin’, hopin’ for possibilities I’ll mob on, why they copy me sloppily/Cops patrol projects, hatin’ the people livin’ in them/I was born an inmate, waitin’ to escape the prison.
In this verse, he exegetes the life of the thug, the pimp, and the pusher; moreover, he asserts what those types of lifestyles produce: drug abuse, hate, and distrust of systems. The Church, as an institution, for Tupac and The Outlawz, is no different. In their estimation, if the cops beat you, schools lie to you, and systems fail you, why would the Church be any different? Tupac ends the verse with: “Went to church but don’t understand it, they underhanded God gave me these commandments, the world is scandalous/Blast til they holy high; baptize they evil minds/Wise, no longer blinded, watch me shine trick/Which one of y’all wanna feel the degrees?/Bitches freeze facin’, Black Jesuz.” In other words, Tupac surmises that within the fallout of failed systems, promises, and theologies, there is a need for a Black Jesuz; one in which “bitches freeze” when standing in his presence. ((In other words, individuals who are weak morally, ethically, and spiritually, and pursue oppressive paths, are not able to stand in the presence of a god who is for justice, reconciliation, ending oppression, and creating spaces in which people are valued over things. See Watkins, Hip-Hop Redemption: Finding God in the Rhythm and the Rhyme, 97-113.))
Kastro finishes the last verse with a declaration to Jesus: “we are hurting, please help.” Kastro shows a Jesus who “walks through the valley.” Once again, a Jesus who can identify with hunger; a Jesus who realizes that this is not the intended mode of life for humans; a Jesus who, as Ebony A. Utley asserts, was gangsta, hung out with thieves, prostitutes, beat down some fools, used foul language to castoff religious leaders of his day and rejected religiosity:
Jesus is the transitional God figure because, according to the Bible, God “out there” sent Jesus “down here” to sacrifice himself via death, burial, and resurrection to redeem humanity. The physical experience of walking the earth anchors Jesus to the human experience…only a God who walked among humans could truly redeem them. This perspective is not lost on gangstas who connect with Jesus’ experience with haters (persecutors), murder (crucifixion), and resurrection (redemption). Jesus is familiar with suffering because he suffered. Jesus is familiar with victory because his resurrection conquered death. ((Utley, Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta’s God, 8.))
Kastro wants to see something better than the life he has now and has experienced thus far:
And it ain’t hard to tell, we dwell in hell/Trapped, black, scarred and barred/Searching for truth, where it’s hard to find God I play the Pied Piper, and to this Thug Life, I’m a lifer/Proceed, to turn up the speed, just for stripes/My Black Jesuz, walk through this valley with me/Where we, so used to hard times and casualties/Indeed, it hurt me deep to have to sleep on the streets/And haven’t eaten in weeks, so save a prayer for me/And all the young thugs, raised on drugs and guns/Blazed out and numb, slaves to this slums/This ain’t livin…Jesuz.
Kastro wants a deity that is “down here” and can redeem the mounting negative experiences within the ‘hood.
Lastly, Tupac exhorts to us that they are in search for a Jesus that hurts like we hurt, smokes like we smoke, drinks like we drink, and understands where we are coming from, which is a basic ontological hermeneutic for Hip Hoppers in context:
Searchin’ for Black Jesuz/It’s hard, it’s hard/We need help out here/So we searchin’ for Black Jesuz/It’s like a Saint, that we pray to in the ghetto, to get us through/Somebody that understand our pain/You know maybe not too perfect, you know/Somebody that hurt like we hurt/Somebody that smoke like we smoke/Drink like we drink/That understand where we coming from/That’s who we pray to/We need help y’all.
Cultural critic and African American studies and Hip Hop scholar Michael Eric Dyson tells us:
Black Jesus for Tupac meant for him that figure that identities with the hurt, the downtrodden, and the downfallen. The Black Jesus is a new figure; both literally within the literary traditions of black response to suffering, but also religious responses to suffering. If this is the Black Jesus of history, it is the Jesus that has never been talked about and most people who talk about Jesus would never recognize. ((Michael Eric Dyson, “Interview,” Tupac VS., DVD, directed by Ken Peters (California: Xenon Pictures, 2002).))
Tupac not only knew this, but also embodied this within his body of work, which is one of the many reasons he argued in so many songs for the contextualization of the Gospel for the ‘hood. ((Some of these songs include: “So Many Tears,” “Ghetto Gospel,” “Only God Can Judge Me,” “Blasphemy,” “Hail Mary,” and “Keep Ya Head Up.”)) Tupac blurred the lines between the sacred and the profane. Tupac entered into blasphemous zones and waded into deep heretical waters while searching for this Black Jesuz who could not only create a space for the thug and the nigga to find deity, but to redeem his context (the ‘hood and inner city spaces) from being what most of society has labeled a “bad place” and undesirable location. “Black Jesuz” is a song made in an attempt to bring a type of ‘hood redemption to non-traditional church members living within the post-industrial urban enclave called the ghetto.
Jesus was, and still is in many ways, a controversial person. He was never perceived as one who would mince words and/or miss an opportunity to connect with the disinherited. Utley discusses that “Jesus fraternized with sexually licentious women, cavorted with sinners, worked on the Sabbath, had a temper, used profane language with religious people, praised faithfulness over stilted forms of religious piety, and honored God more than the government.” ((Utley, 49.)) However, most of the critical, radical, and “post-modern” images of Jesus have been lost and too often domesticated for either political or racial reasons. In other words, the critical, radical, and post-modern image of Jesus which many Hip Hoppers could readily identify with are often marred by a Jesus symbol that is quite, turn-the-other-cheek, meek, and mild-mannered; Hip Hoppers in rough and rugged situations need a deity like Jesus that can connect better with the rough and rugged conditions they face each day. Hip Hoppers need a Jesus that can relate and possibly walk with them in nefarious conditions.
Tupac and The Outlawz present a Jesus who is not only relatable, but one who is able to connect with the inequalities of life. While most of the song questions if a Jesus is able to connect with the inequalities of life, the sub-text of the song is about a Jesus who can; moreover, it is a Jesus who can relieve the burden of ghetto life – a Jesus who is able to blow through the blunt-smoking persona and redeem those who hurt. These sensationalized images of Jesus are needed, as they push beyond the traditionalized symbols of Jesus and offer not only a contextual appropriation but one that is contemporary for marginalized ones too. ((This is no different than what Jürgen Moltmann or Henri J.M. Nouwen argue when they discuss contextual Christologies that relate and connect with current geographic spaces. See Jürgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions (California: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990); and Henri J.M. Nouwen, In The Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1989).)) More importantly, they are needed in the discourse of Christian theology, as many of these personas of Jesus get lost within the dominant Western Eurocentric Roman Catholic model of Christianity. ((See Nelson George, Post-soul Nation: The Explosive, Contradictory, Triumphant, and Tragic 1980s as Experienced by African Americans (Previously Known as Blacks and Before that Negroes) (New York: Viking, 2004); Paul C. Taylor, “Post-Black, Old Black,” African American Review 41, no. 4 (2007); Cornel West, Prophetic Thought in Postmodern Times: Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism, vol. 1 (Maine: Common Courage Press, 1993); J. Milton Yinger, Religion, Society, and the Individual: An Introduction to the Sociology of Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1957); and Slavoj Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes (New York: Verso, 2008).)) The 2011 hit song by artists Jay-Z and Kanye West, “No Church in the Wild,” continues to ignite discussions that engage the irrelevance of religion, church, and a belief in dogmatic rules. However, sensationalized images of Jesus such as Aaron McGruder’s “Black Jesus,” Lil Wayne’s “Trap Jesus,” and Tupac’s “Black Jesuz” represent a fundamental attempt to make deity, the divine, and the sacred more accessible to those who typically do not grace the sanctuaries of Christian Churches. The images represent the fusing of the sacred and profane: a space that Spencer argues is vastly misunderstood. They use culture to help interpret the sacred scriptures and to break away some of the seriousness characteristically associated with Jesus, which exhibits the importance that Jesus can be humanized to not be solely “up there” but “down here.” Finally, the images are more relevant and applicable to those seeking Jesus from the Hip Hop and urban generation. This generation is not interested in a God that sits in multi-million dollar churches. They reject pastors who net more than their congregations make in a year combined. They despise the double standards of the Church, and they do not want a Jesus “too perfect.” Thus, what Tupac and The Outlawz do well is present a Jesus in human form for this current time and generation.