The BBC reports on a major hoax pulled by Scottish rappers Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd. The college friends pretended to be Americans and lived a lie for three years in order to secure a record deal and tour the UK and eventually the world as rappers. The hoax lasted until the truth caught up with them from the inside out.
Back in 2001, the rappers were laughed out of the room when they met record company executives in London and were told that “real” rappers do not come from Scotland. So they pair lied and re-created themselves as Americans. David Gritten of The Telegraph summarizes those years succinctly:
They adopted American accents that they had to maintain all their waking hours. They invented phoney life stories for themselves, claiming they came from small towns in California. They started acting loudly and aggressively, as they thought American hip-hop artists would. And they named themselves Silibil ‘n’ Brains.
Remarkably, they got away with it, and even secured lucrative advances from Sony UK to pursue their careers. On the strength of their deception, they scored a lucrative record deal. They enjoyed a starry lifestyle, mixing with celebrities, heavily indulging in drink and drugs and having lots of sex. But their lives and their friendship cracked under the strain of having to live a lie 24 hours a day.
Years and years of constantly lying took its toll. The liars’ lifestyle not only damaged their friendship, but it also made Gavin Bain physically sick with stomach ulcers and raised mental health issues driven by the paranoia of being exposed. Eventually, the pair split up and the hoax was over. Their story is captured in a new documentary titled “The Great Hip Hop Hoax.”
I believe this hoax was destined to fail. Here’s why: we live in a moral universe and human persons were not created to be liars and deceivers of other people. Lies and deception cannot ultimately prevail in a world designed by a holy and righteous Creator. These men provide a great object lesson for the truth of Scripture, reminding us that the Gospel frees human persons to be the kinds of people that God designed us to be.
These men knew right from wrong because, as image bearers of God, the law of God is written on their hearts. Romans 2:14-15 reminds us of this truth:
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
The consciences of these men bore witness to the truth, spiraling into physical sickness and destroying relationships. Three years of lies and deception wore on them because God’s moral norms cannot be suppressed completely in the hearts and minds of men and women who bear his image. Eventually, we will have to decide whether to pursue what is true or to continue to suppress what has been made plain and suffer the consequences. It would be wonderful if someone sat down with Bain and Boyd and explained to them what full confession and repentance might look like, within the narrative of the human condition and God’s solution. Their story is not over by any means and it could be the beginning of a beautiful tale of God’s redemption.