Muslim in America, Muslim in Hip Hop

It is said that in some parts of America, people got to recognize Muslim people as a habitant having evil and dangerous trait after 9/11. Then many Muslim people still hold unclear feeling due to this America’s ‘change’.

However, there are also some conscious men who are against this current situation. According to the first article, one Muslim American rapper (23), who “went through their adolescence and early adulthood post-9/11”, “speaks about his personal struggles and the political and social issues that resonate in him the most.” He tries to change people’s wrong recognition of Muslims through hip-hop music, which history was also shaped in confronting racial, social and political injustice.

‘Capital D’ is a Chicago rapper who criticizes America with the modern capitalism and the war in Iraq. He said that recently American Muslims has been taking hip-hop music into their culture, and that ‘Islam hip-hop’ is very young in its process. However as he says, I think this movement will be expanding more.

Today, many Muslim rappers succeeded in surviving through the game of hip-hop, and the number of them has been increasing. Lupe Fiasco is one of them.

Lupe (Wasalu Muhammad Jaco), a conscious rapper from Chi-town, is very explicit to proclaim that he is Muslim and talks lots of things how he thinks about Islam. In his song“Words I Never Said” (2011), he emphasizes “Murdering is not Islam!” to make people change their conception about Islam. He also criticizes (Muslim?) people who don’t take their voice out to say the truth, saying;

Now you can say it ain’t our fault if we never heard it.
But if we know better than we probably deserve it.

Since his debut in 2006, Lupe has cemented his position in hip-hop with his incredible lyrical skill. Now, he became the representative of Muslim in America and hip-hop, and became the voice of them. I’m sure we can say that hip-hop, to some extent, made it possible for American Muslims to state their social and political intentions.

This culture called hip-hop seems to have a very unique religious perspective. It has a root in Gospel, at the same time; it had a great influence of Nation of Islam and also had important support by Jewish people to become economically independent. I think this trait made it possible for Muslim people to fight the situation through hip-hop. The main thesis of hip-hop, I guess, is to do the right thing. This means to tell people the truth, removing all the inconsistency, with positive vibration.
Reading each report, I feel that Muslim are fighting their situation in America through hip-hop.

by Yuki Atsusaka

References

Madeline, D. (2010, August 17). Muslim American rapper growing up in post-9/11 America. Common Ground News Service.
Retrieved November 30, 2011, from
http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=28315&lan=en&sp=0

n.d. (2005, November 24). Muslim rappers combine beliefs with hip-hop. Associated Press.
Retrieved November 30, 2011, from
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/6576281/ns/today-entertainment/t/muslim-rappers-combine-beliefs-hip-hop/

n.d. (n.d.). 10 Most Successful Muslim Rappers. Islamoblog.
Retrieved November 30, 2011, from
http://islamoblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/10-most-successful-muslim-rappers.html

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2 thoughts on “Muslim in America, Muslim in Hip Hop

  1. This is a brilliant post.
    I’m quite interested in what the word “hip hop” means to the people. What does it mean? It generally sounds like a genre of music or style of fashion. But I assume it can mean quite broader range of something.It sounds like a tool for small voice. It sounds like a community where everyone have rights to insist their thoughts. Even it sounds more like a… philosophy of life??

    You mentioned the main thesis of hip-hop.
    Also you have shown that hip-hop’s’ have their own colour for each, as you drew the picture of Muslim hip-hop. At the same time, hip-hop itself seems to have something universal for all. What do you think hip-hop means? It is absolutely fascinating.

  2. As a proud Chicagoan, I must give you props for introducing two Chicago-born hip hop artists *fist bump*.

    But all jokes aside, I believe the reason why more and more Muslim activists are turning to hip hop as their choice of medium to convey messages is greatly due to the appeal factor of “hip hop” amongst the youth generation.

    In the few decades since the founding of hip hop in the minority communities of NYC during the 1970s, hip hop has risen to a prominent genre, characterized by numerous artists who have won international acclaim. It’s hard to ignore hip hop; the top 100 Billboard chart and American radio stations are dominated by hip hop music.

    And the genre is appreciated mostly by youths – those who absorb the most amount of ideas and messages from mainstream media. The reason why hip hop is favored by so many adolescents can partly be due to the uplifting beats and rhythms of the genre that corresponds with their testosterone level. But I believe the true reason why this genre is widely appreciated by so many is because hip hop artists oftentimes push the boundaries of what is proper. They use explicit language, openly criticize the government, and rap about controversial topics without hesitation. They don’t compromise, and perhaps this is what wins the heart of so many young adults.

    This is why Muslim activists choose hip hop, rather than, say, Indie Rock, to get their voices across. They understand the impact their messages can have on youths through hip hop, and the intensity of their message that the genre allows for. The same message told through Indie music and hip hop just won’t sound the same.

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