UPDATES: Okay, I’m sorry my whole list is wrong, but every rapper listed is, was, and will be (InshaAllah) a Muslim. Many of them are 5 percenters and members of Nation of Islam, making them not under the category of Sunni Islam. I’m sorry to those people who I have confused, but this topic really facinates me. The effect Islam has on Hip-Hop is huge! Literally every rapper knows a Muslim and knows a little about Islam. Afterall, Imam Suhaib Webb first became interested with Islam through Hip-Hop music.
(in no particular order)
Freeway, Beanie Sigel, Lupe Fiasco, Nas, AZ, Mos Def, K Salaam, Swizz Beats*, Talib Kweli, Proof (inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon), Bizarre*, N.O.R.E. (Noreaga), Q-Tip, Ice Cube, The Roots, Public Enemy, KRS-One, A Tribe Called Quest, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Common, Salam Wreck, Akon, Ali, DJ Khaled from the Terror Squad (haha), Havoc of Mobb Deep, Mister Cee, Styles P*, Al’ Tariq (former member of the Beatnuts), Eve, T-Pain, Akil and Zaakir of Jurassic 5, and Everlast (former member of House of Pain) all have something common. They are all Muslims. Regardless of their lifestyles, lyrics and actions they have accepted Allah as their creator and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His messenger. (*Rumor)
Islam is Hip-Hop’s official religion. Why? Whether rappers are Muslim or not, they’re lyrics are influenced by them. Afterall, rap was first developed as a tool to fight racism and to uplift the African-American community. Islam is the only religion in the world which unites all races. Christianity does not do it like Islam. Churches are very divided by race. You have black churches and white churches. In Islam it doesn’t matter whether you are black, white, brown, yellow or green, you can come into any masjid (mosque) and pray. Rap is heavily promoted and practiced by black people all across the United States. Black Muslims are the largest group of Muslims in America. Arab Muslims and Muslims from the Indian sub-continent don’t even come close to Black Muslims in numbers.
The Nation of Islam is a major factor as to why Black Muslims make up the majority of Muslims here in North America. Although, the Nation of Islam have totally different core beliefs from Islam, it opens the path for blacks to come to Islam. Like Imam Siraj Wahaj, who was formely a member of Nation of Islam, is now one of the most elite and top Imams in North America. The Nation of Islam should be given all credit in it’s relgious, spiritual and political influence over the hip-hop world. Louis Farrakhan had talk at the Hip Hop summit in 2001 challenging the hip-hop artists to improve the future of the youth that follow them by rapping about postive things in their lyrics to eliminate racism, stereotypes and bringing peace in urban communities and to their fans worldwide.
How do I know that all those listed above are Muslims? I (sadly) listen to most of their songs and heard their lyrics. Many of them praise Allah and declare their Muslim identity, while others say it in their biographies. Some are just word of mouth. Here are some proofs/quotes from some artists:
Islam is a beautiful religion. But right now, with my career and my life, I can’t live the Sunni Muslim way. I refuse to be a hypocrite and cover my head on Friday, go pray, and then the rest of the week I’m out cursing and drinking–and performing. So right now I’m just comfortable with God.
- Eve, female rapper and member of Ruff Ryders, in an interview
My heart in the faith I don’t practice,
I still pray along, forgive me for my actions,
Cause I still spit gangsta, think Muslim, act Kafir,
I can’t go on this way.
- Beanie Sigel from ‘I can’t go on this way’ (Album: B. Coming)
So what you know about how God comes first
And everything we do is for Allah.
- Akon from the song ‘Sengal’
A lot of rules, some locked in solitude,
Curse the day of they birthy confused, who’s to be praised?
The mighty dollar, or almighty Allah.
- Nas from the song ‘Ghetto Prisoners (Album: I Am…)
To the human beings with taste, sight, touch, smell and sound
Let’s deem it profound!
And prioritize this cause it was Allah’s wish
“Allah? I’m God.”
“No I don’t believe that. That’s a mystery.”
“If God is so good why does shit be happening to me?”
There’s divinity within because we come from the divine
A force that’s not seen but you feel it every time.
- Q-Tip (with Common) from the song ‘The Remedy’ (Album: Get on the Bus soundtrack)
Might act up, but I still can pass dawah
I’m usin’ new ways to try to reach these better days
Instead of tryin’ to take you under I just make you wonder
I still fast, make salaat, and pay zakat
I didn’t make Hajj yet, but that’s my next project
Livin’ two lives, one of turn and one with true lies
Keeping up hope knowing He’s answering to my du’as.
- The Roots from the song ‘The Spark’ (Album: Things Fall Apart)
Qu’ran and the Bible, to me they all vital
And got truth within ‘em, gotta read them boys
You just can’t skim ‘em, different branches of belief
But one root that stem ‘em, but people of the venom try to trim ‘em
And use religion as an emblem
When it should be a natural way of life
Who am I or they to say to whom you pray ain’t right,
That’s who got you doin right and got you this far,
Whether you say “in Jesus name” or “Alhamdulillah”
-Common (feat. Cee-lo) from the song ‘G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition)’ (Album: One Day It’ll All Make Sense)
God’s reppin’ with muslums keep Islam safe
What’s your fate yo?
What do you believe what do you know?
-Noreaga (N.O.R.E.) (with Capone) on the song ‘Live on Live Long’
Who cares? I do! The hip-hop culture is part of the pop culture nowadays. It is everywhere. In the cities, the suburbs and the farm lands. Young boys and girls from the Queensbridge projects all the way to the Hamptons of Long Island and everything in between promote, practice (most try really hard) and enjoy hip-hop. With an Islamic influence, they can have a dramatic effect on the future and public image of Islam. Another reason, many Muslim youth are now heavily influenced by rap artists and are loosing their Muslim identity. InshaAllah, this will open up some of their hearts and realize that they should be proud that they are Muslim and try to be a better Muslim and still enjoy some ‘not-so-haram’ rap.
Side Note #1: All the listed rappers above are mainstream rappears, meaning there songs are played on the top radio stations, their music videos are shown on TV (MTV, BET, VH1, Much Music, etc). There are over 100 underground Muslim rappers. This post is about the popular Muslim rappers in the hip-hop world.
Side Note #2: Rakim, Eric B., Busta Rhymes, Brand Nubian and Wu-Tang Clan (members include RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man) are 5 Percenters, an off-shoot group from the Nation of Islam. I don’t believe they are considered Muslims, so may Allah guide them to true Islam, inshaAllah.