Friday, April 15, 2011

Is Hip Hop Religious?

Well this question has caused some great debate in my African American Religious Culture class.  Instinctively many people do not think that hip hop is/or can be religious.  I understand why people don't think that hip hop is a religion or even religious; however, there are some pretty strong reasons why hip hop is often seen as both a religion and religious (even secular rap) part of life, especially when we use Charles Long's definition of religion (I will post some on this and add a link soon). 

There is a really interesting book at the library. (I read half of it last year but never finished it.) Its called “The Soul of Hip Hop: Rims, Timbs and a Cultural Theology” and it argues that “yes, hip hop is a religion.” It starts with a brief history of hip hop and then breaks down the theology into a theology of suffering, community, the hip hop Jesuz, social action and justice, and the profane. It relates these areas back to the Bible and religion in general. The book finishes with the hip hop missions (which I never got to). From what I remember, it compares hip hop to church and some of the artists being like pastors. It also talks about the vulgarity as being a necessary, and real, aspect of life for kids in the ghetto.

The Soul of Hip Hop (pt. 1)

Another example of how hip hop could be a religion comes from slam poets and a few artist that have performed in Laramie (Saul Williams, Slam NUBA and Mo Brown). It seems like some of them immerse themselves in it so deeply, it is a major aspect of who they are beyond just music but in a deep spiritual sense as well. The workshop with Slam NUBA was kind of about how art comes from the soul and truth.
Blog post about Slam NUBA and workshops

Another Slam NUBA video

Adrian Molina (Mo Brown) and Saul Williams also have work that incorporate religion and spirituality.

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