rebelling against low expectations

Nick Cannon: Can I Live


Brett and I rarely listen to rap music, but this music video by actor/artist Nick Cannon is a good example of an artistic medium being used to send a powerful message of life. In fact, it is so good that our church used it today as part of our Sanctity of Life Sunday service. Few eyes were dry when it was over.

The video tells the heroic true story of Nick Cannon’s mother, Beck. It is 1979 and she is seventeen, unmarried, and about to have an abortion.

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UPDATE: Read the lyrics to the song below:

Can I Live

I’m talking, mom, I know the situation is personal
But it’s something that has to be told
As I was making this beat
You was all I could think about
You heard my voice

Just think, just think…
What if you could just, just blink yourself away?
Just, just wait, just pause for a second
Let me plead my case

It’s the late seventies, you seventeen
And having me, that will ruin everything
It’s a lot of angels waiting on their wings
You see me in your sleep, so you can’t kill your dreams

Three hundred dollars, that’s the price of living?
Mommy, I don’t like this clinic
Hopefully you’ll make the right decision
And don’t go though with the knife decision

But it’s hard to make the right move when you in high school
Now you gotta work all day and take night school
Hopping on the bus and the rain is pouring
What you want, morning sickness or the sickness of mourning?
Can I live?

I’ll always be a part of you
Trust your soul, know it’s always true
If I could talk I’d say to you
Can I live?
Can I live?

I’ll always be a part of you
Trust your soul, know it’s always true
If I could talk I’d say to you
Can I live?
Can I live?

I’m a child of the King, ain’t no need to go fear me
And I see the flowing tears, so I know that you hear me
When I move in your womb that’s me being scary
‘Cuz who knows what my future holds?

The truth be told you ain’t told a soul
You ain’t even showing, I’m just two months old
Through your clothes try to hide me, deny me
Went up three sizes

Your pride got you lying, saying ain’t nothing but a migraine
It ain’t surprising you not trying to be in WIC food lines
Your friends look at you funny, but look at you mommy
That’s a life inside, take a look at your tummy

What is becoming, Ma? I’m Oprah bound
You can tell he’s a star from the ultrasound
Our spirits connected, doors open now,
Nothing but love and respect, thanks for holding it down
She let me live

I’ll always be a part of you
Trust your soul, know it’s always true
If I could talk I’d say to you
Can I live?
Can I live?

I’ll always be a part of you
Trust your soul, know it’s always true
If I could talk I’d say to you
Can I live?
Can I live?

It’s uplifing for real, y’all
I ain’t passing no judgement
Ain’t making no decisions
I’m just telling y’all my story

I love life, I love my mother for giving me life
We all need to appreciate life
And a strong woman who had to make a sacrifice

Thanks for listening…
Thanks for listening…
Momma, thanks for listening

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Wow, It’s always interesting to hear a positive message from some one “in the world” I pray this song will touch those who are struggling with this issue. Thanks for sharing this!

  • I don’t usually listen to rap either (more like never), but that was really good. Some people seem to think that the fight against abortion is futile and that abortion will never go away. My pastor always reminds us that people used to say the same thing about slavery, and look where we are now! We need to keep fighting. Thanks so much for posting this!

  • Incredible… I am not a rap fan personally but i definitely believe that this song is, and will be used by God to sway hearts. It is a nice touch that the singer was attractive young man, and then him hugging his mother at the end. Well done.

  • That is so powerful!

    What you want, morning sickness or the sickness of mourning? That’s the saddest thing about abortions. It not only ends the heart beat of the tiny infant, but it breaks the spirit of his mother.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • What an amazing video! That must have been so hard for his mother to share publicly, but well done to her for being willing for her and her son’s story to be told. We must have compassion on these young girls who are told that this is the only option once they are pregnant – it must be a terrible place to think that the only way out, the only way to be supported, is to have an abortion. We need to be more vocal and more practical in our love and support of single mothers who have gone against what society tells them would have been the easy option.

  • I had a quick question for you, Alex and Brett: what is your opinion on Curtis Allen (Christian rapper for Sovereignn Grace Ministries)? I really enjoy his music and have been hoping to hear your opinions on him. You don’t have to answer the question, I was just wondering.

  • Stephanie Amber: Brett and I were at New Attitude 2004, where our brother Josh invited Curtis Allen to “Christian rap” for the first time—that’s where everything started. He is the one rap artist we listen to. We love his doctrinally rich lyrics and heart for the gospel. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  • My brother and I heard that song on the radio a long time ago, and we were both really struck: wow, a figure in the music community really standing tall and telling it straight up. God bless Nick Cannon for his courage!

  • Brett and Alex,
    Wow I am speechless this song really resounded, BTW this sounds kind of like my story I am adopted…

  • Thank you Nick Cannon for not rapping about the usual!

    There’s a guy in my English class and I was proof-reading his paper, it was about how he and his girlfriend had just (as in the day before) gone to Planned Parenthood and found out she was pregnant. She wants to get an abortion, he’s going along with that.

    … I don’t think it was a coincidence that I read that story right before the Sanctity of Life week! God is so good, I hope and pray He gives me words and the chance to talk to this guy.

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  • That was really good. I never listen to rap but I thought this was really powerful. Another song with the same theme is “Everything to Me” by Christian artist Mark Schultz.

  • That was amazing! Very moving as you hear the children joining in, and then when you see them at the end. It’s refreshing to hear a rap song with a positive message! (Not that I hear much rap.) It’s a good genre for talking about life as it is, and this was a wonderful application of it. Thank you for sharing the video!

  • I showed my mom and dad the video. It brought tears to mom’s eyes and dad said even thought he’s not a fan of rap, he thought the video was well done and gave a good message. Thanks again guys for sharing.

  • Wow. That is really powerful. It really shows how much we need to be on our knees praying!
    Thanks also for the survey work you guys are doing! It means a lot to so many people that you are willing to put all this work into making it easier for girls to stay pure and keep the guys around them pure!

  • My favorite line of the song is near the end, where Nick recognizes his mother “is a strong woman who made sacrifices”.

    As a mom and a woman I know it is through bringing our children into the world that we prove we are strong. The “easy” way out is not about a woman’s strengths, but her weaknesses. As women we should all be appalled at society’s sponsorship of this.

  • The message of this song was absolutely wonderful, but I have a serious problem with using a worldly medium that does not glorify God like rap music to communicate a Godly message. Even though the words are great, the medium and beat is sensual. The Bible says to prove what is acceptable to the Lord. Does attaching a Godly message to an ungodly medium somehow cleanse the medium? The rhythm and beat of this song communicates just as strongly as the lyrics, and they convey a different message? Should we put pornography in gospel tracts to entice sinners?

  • That was excellent!! Thanks so much for including that in your post. Is it an older song? Speaking of rap, have any of you guys ever heard of R-swift. He’s a christian rap artist and his lyrics are really good. Not many people have heard of him.

  • Thank you for posting this! I think this is the first rap song I’ve ever listened to all the way through, but I have to admit, I almost started crying! What a positive message for the world. I also hope this might encourage more Christian teenagers to become personally involved in the fight for the unborn.

  • Wow guys, that video brought tears to my eyes. It is the medium for the message too, as so many in the black culture are the ones most affected by abortion. Truth can change a heart.

    dear anonomous:

    You are entitled to your opinion, but seems like you are throwing it out there to be devisive, and it isn’t a logical conclusion anyways.

    Music is a medium. Comparing pornography and music is a laughable analogy!
    Pornography is Content, not medium… Music is medium, lyrics give content, savvy? (Couldn’t resist)

    Anyways, no need for debate here, you have a prejudice against the music. I personally think this video more than redeems the style you consider offensive.
    I am not a huge rap fan either, but I did not find the beat to be “sensual”, in the way you seem to mean. Music is a sensual medium, are you saying music should not apeal to our senses? Maybe we should not listen to music at all.

    I agree rap has been used in “sensual” ways, and I hate that… so has Classical (aka, yesterdays contemporary music, if you are so inclined), Rock N’ Roll, Jazz, Punk, etc. But I do believe God can redeem a musical style and Christians can use the mediums in a way that glorifies Him. I do think we should descern and not jump on any bandwagons here, but for the sake of logic, and for encouragement of proper Christian use of the arts and media at large, I had to say something.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Wow, didn’t expect to cry myself.
    What makes rap and Nick Cannon such effective messengers for the pro-life cause (although Nick could maybe have upgraded the muscle shirt) is that abortion is so prevelant in the black community; coming from within that community, the message is twice as powerful.

    Another Christian rap group with some great songs is The Cross Movement. My favorite is “Off the Hook,” an allegory of redemption. It’s worth hearing.

  • omg usually songs do not get to me but this one has a strong message… its so good n i like rap but this one is one of the best! i hope everyone sees a posative message in this song caz its wonderful…

    ash kay

  • I’ve never heard of him before, . . . this song is off the chain!!! Definately a rap fan, now I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a new album. 🙂 It’s about time some of my black brothas start speakin’ up! 😛


  • I don’t know if I would recommend the rest of Nick Cannon’s work, but this song is definitely a jewel. 🙂

    Are you familiar with Curtis “The Voice” Allen? He’s an excellent, theologically-rich Christian rapper from Brett’s and my older brother’s church.

  • Hmmm… Now i’m african american and know quite a bit about rap music, that’s why it may be surprising i’m about to say what i’m about to say. First let me say nick canon’s song is profound and the message is a good one. But that’s where it stops; nick canon and rap music for the most part is a powerful tool of the devil to destroy lives. Hip Hop is filled with double talk, Nick Canon will talk about not having an abortion but doesn’t talk about the problem that causes abortion, fornication, so overall this message is hypocritical at least and ineffective at best. Why do I say this? Does it really matter if people promote not having an abortion while at the same time promoting fornication? One of the major problem with African Americans is bastardization, meaning people having kids who never planned for them or wanted them in the first place. So I treat this song like a treat Kanye West shameful attempt at religiosity,

  • Wow. it’s a beautiful music video. It just made me realise yet again that abortion is terrible. That is a life that you are taking away. Made in God’s image. and it’s so amazing to see that a rapstar is being honest and telling the world about his story. Big up to his mother, she has gained my respect by what she has done.
    and I agree with what G.S says. He does not mention the fact about the sin, but you know, we are all contradictions.

  • Hello renee i found your comment very interesting. You propose that all humans are contradictions, and I find such a statement quite offensive. By definition a contradiction, according to webster\’s, is:

    1 : act or an instance of contradicting
    2 a : a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something b : a statement or phrase whose parts contradict each other
    3 a : logical incongruity b : a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another

    Now I didn\’t use the word contradiction in my comment on nick canon, but we can use that word all the same. In the context of my former statement, the way we would use contradiction is as a logical incongruity or inconsistency. This definition of contradiction would hold the same connotations of the meaning of the word hypocrisy.

    Now that we know what contradiction means, let us examine your sweeping generalization, that all people are contradictions. This may be surprising to people but persons who are really born again and saved aren’t hypocrites or contradictory persons. The biblical position of a saved person is not a logical incongruity, nor is it a logical inconsistency, that\’s why the gospel doesn\’t make sense without being accompanied by a holy consistent life. Of course i would need to provide scriptural support as well as explain further what i mean about true born again christians not being inconsistent. The scripture i will use to show that christians are not hypocrites will be matt 24:51, which states vividly that hypocrites have no part in the kingdom on heaven. What this means is that a person cannot be a hypocrite and saved at the same time. Does this mean christians don\’t fall into sin? I believe that scripture shows that a christian does not jump head long into sin nor desires to willingly do what is evil, in order words, a saved person is dead to sin and alive to to Christ. If a christian does fall into sin, it is not an intentional or high handed transgression, what occurs is along the lines of the euphemism called stumbling. This is not a mere arbitrary distinction, a person who lives in opposition or inconsistent to the commands of scripture, in sincere principled obedience, has no right to demand that they be looked upon as a christian.

    Thank you for all those who took the time to read this and may the Lord bless you in your quest for holiness.

  • The words are powerful. We serve a loving God who works with us no matter what. For you all with questions about rap check out a former hiphop rapper who became a Christian at Ivor Myers has a great testimony that helped us choose at our house.

  • I tried to watch the video, but it said that it was no longer available. The words are very beautiful though.

  • Woww, this really is the most powerful song Ive heard in a long time. Its amazing. And many might disagree with me on this, but I have my opinion. I typed in abortion and I guess I clicked images and it popped up a bunch of woman killing themselves along with the child when abortion wasnt legal because they were trying to perform the surgery themselves. I dont know. Im in between two fences. But really, if you were sixteen and it would ruin your life like this..what would you do?
    Really, when you type in abortion in images on google. Click on the image you want to read about. Usually theres a story behind the picture and then you’ll understand what Im talking about. Send me something at
    I really dont care if its offensive. Im not for abortion. But Im not against it.

  • Although I do not care for rap music, in my opinion i’m not sure you could even call it music,(no offense to those who like it) I decided to watch this video anyway. I am so glad that I did. It was very touching and I could not help but cry at a few parts.

    God bless!

    Sarah 🙂

  • Taylor,

    (quote)”Im not for abortion. But Im not against it.”(end quote)
    Let me ask you this, are you for murder or against it? That is really what abortion is. Murder. When you see a baby only a few months, weeks, or even days old would you ever think of killing it? Of course not! But having an abortion is the exact same thing! Get off the fence and get on the right side!

    And as to, (quote)”But really, if you were sixteen and it would ruin your life like this..what would you do?”(end quote) You still don’t get an abortion! If your pregnant then that is your own fault and you have to pay the consequences of your sin!

  • THis is very touching and you would think that Nick Cannon would be in support of the Pro-life movement, but guess who he supports in the upcoming election……
    To Tonya,
    A 16 year old knows right from wrong, and can give the child up for adoption. Have you ever seen pictures of abortions? Do you know what is done in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester abortions? It is horrific, and I don’t care if I offend you honestly. I had friends in college who had abortions, and I knew NOTHING about what was done. I would have tried to talk them out of it had I known. Many women today commit suicide after having abortions because of guilt and despair. It is NEVER a sloution. God made every creature on this earth, and humans he specifically formed in his image. Even babies with defects and abnormalities. Every person created God has a purpose for. WHo are we to challenge that? It is not even about paying for your sins, in my opinion, it is about protecting the most innocent beings from death and destruction. I’ve never had an abortion, but I look at my 7 month old during this election season and cry for the babies who have been murdred and cry for the babies who will be murdered in the future if certain policies are put into place such as the Freedom of Choice Act. I urge anyone who is “on the fence” about abortion to look at images of aborted babies and if it doesn’t change your heart, you must not have one.

  • To Angie and Anonymous: I don’t particularly like the tone of voice that you are taking, trying to persuade other people to be against abortion. ‘If it doesn’t change your heart, you must not have one,’ and also, ‘f your pregnant then that is your own fault and you have to pay the consequences of your sin!’ I think these statements are very harsh, because people have freedom of opinion, and insulting them like that for what they believe isn’t really acceptable. I myself believe that abortion is wrong, but often young girls can’t see past their fear and panic when they discover that they are pregnant, and they quickly take the easiest way out. It takes strength, compassion, character and clarity of mind to carry a baby to full term if you are not married, but not all girls have that. Yes, God gave babies to woman as a gift and created them all in incredible ways, but He also gave mankind free will. I would ask you to be a little more accepting of and open to other people’s views, because you are not going to win anybody over to your side by harassing them and insulting them. The way to do it is gentle debate, know your facts and gently present them to others. Emphasis on gently.

    And to Alex and Brett, one question: You say that Curtis Allen is the ONLY rap artist you listen to – but have you heard of TobyMac? His music would be classified as Christian Rap, and it is really, REALLY good. If you haven’t heard him, do! His music is fantastic.

  • I agree with Abby…TobyMac is really good. He is the only ‘Christian Rap’ I listen to. I’ve never heard of Curtis Allen…I’m going ot look him up on itunes… 🙂

  • Abby, I agree very much about debating gently. However, we can and should state firmly what we believe God’s Word most assuredly backs up. Can anyone deny that? We cannot be “accepting” with opinions for murder.
    And something about the “insulting” you mentioned: It depends. The Pharisees were insulted when Jesus spoke to them, but that didn’t stop Him from saying what was right. Sure, we need to find a balance there, but ruling out “insulting” doesn’t always work.

  • I have my opinions, and as much as I know I could never do it to my own child, may I pose the question of rape? If a young girl just gong through puberty was raped? She didn’t have a choice in becoming pregnant, shouldn’t she have a say in what is done?

  • Athie, this question is asked all the time. What IF the girl was raped, and was pregnant because of it? It’d be totally awful, to have to go through that, and no one can deny that fact. But, that child concieved, no matter how it got there, is a child! A life! There is NO justification for murdering a child, no matter if it’s come into this world or not yet. And if i put myself in this girl’s situation, i see that i too would have an extremely hard time accepting that i had no choice in the matter of the pregnancy, and i can’t say that i wouldn’t think about abortion (but not consider it). The fact is is that that’s a life growing inside her that she’d be killing, a life that is human, and that is clearly murder.

  • A life is a life, and humans have no right to take it no matter what discomforts may come from making the right decision. This is why this song was so powerful to me. I also have a question though. I do listen to a lot of Christian rap like tobymac, cross movement, lecrae, and KJ-52. It is the only genre of music I like. They all seem to live for God and serve Christ, but I go to a church where they believe the only kind of music that can praise God is the old hymns or modern traditional Christian (no beat, no drums, no guitars etc.). I would really appreciate if someone could give their opinion on this. Thanks.

  • Hey Nick, i don’t know if this will help you much, but not once in the Bible that i have found, please tell me if i’m wrong, a specification what kind of music praises God and what kind doesn’t. I’m definately not saying your church is wrong in worshiping the way it does! There is beauty in praising God with the same hymns that people were using hundreds of years ago. But my personal conviction (because i believe that’s what it ultimately comes down too, whether it bothers your consience and breaks your convictions) is that this music is not able to be glorifying to God and uplifting to His people. 🙂

  • excuse me, my last sentence should read “my personal conviction is that this music IS ABLE to be glorifying to God and uplifting to His people.” sorry about that! Hope that helps you!

  • I agree with Lauren. Music is a powerful thing, and if it hs the right words you can praise God with any kind!
    ~Psalm 30:5~

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  • wow. that… was….amazing……the lyrics almost made me cry. and the sad thing is that is whats going even now…not just 1979

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  • That was so beautiful! You know all the people for abortion say it’s a woman’s choice, but what if it was a baby girl inside, she would’ve been a woman one day, you just took away her choice, so is it really a woman’s choice? Cause when a young girl or a woman kills her baby she just took away that baby’s choice, and that baby’s right to life. Just think about it.

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rebelling against low expectations

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