“Hip hop” in the 21th century has taken the position of heavy metal in the 80’s. To the conscious observer the clear references to “satan” are evident and the indirect references are abundant. From Kayne West to Outerspace hip hop has traversed the boundaries of moral action and life affirming values, it is a realm where moral consciousness is obscured and human being has no worth. Today hip hop celebrates musically and honors poetically idolatry, occultism, illicit sex, theft, drugs, materialism, death, killing and now homosexuality.
Claiming the status of a new global religion as the singer Erika Badu has claimed it is a demonstration and affirmation of the ignorance (jahillia) of old that was celebrated by “poets of the age of ignorance” who resided in the Arabian pennisula before the emergence of Islam. What hip hop managed today was to universalize the values of heavy metal across ethnic lines making “necrophila” a way of life.
Something many Muslims have a difficulty in facing is that Islam as a notion no longer carries the weight of a transformative concept in hip hop. 50 cent’s claim to recite a “Ghetto Qur’an” is a sign of the triumph of ” far fetched ta’wil” and the celebration of supreme “kufr.” The Ghetto Qur’an he refers to is his words put to music making himself a prophet who is giving revelation to the people. This as a theme is not uncommon in hip hop, the claim to prophecy. The task of the da’ee today is how to present the Qur’an as a way to transform the personality molded by hip hop in the 21 th century, inspired by the way of satanic being in the world. Lectures, and books will not be sufficient to transform the necrophilic personality nor soften the heart inspired by satanic values. What is needed is a righteous patient teacher who imbibes the Qur’an and is aware of the culture of death celebrated by hip hop.
Wa Billahi at-Tawfiq
Suhaib Webb responds and writes:
Excellent post and thoughts akhi. I was brought into Islam through the Hip-Hop world. That being said, once I became Muslim and started studying, I realized that in order for me to develop and grow as a Muslim I would have to amputate my relations with Hip-Hop and its community. I realized that the Qur’an and Hip Hop simply don’t mix. What is sad about many of our Muslim Hip-Hoppers and well as performers in general is their acute poverty when it comes to religious knowledge. I have never understood how people could stand on stage, carry themselves like some type of Rakim rejects knowing that they lack the basic fundamentals of religion and faith?
I have gone back and forth on this issue trying to be just, but have failed to find any excuse for Muslim Hip Hop and comedy. Let’s be honest, when one listens to hip-hop what is the feeling found in the heart? Is it a feeling of bliss? Is it a feeling of tenderness and love, or is it a feeling that “I’m the baddest [you insert the swear word] on the planet and can’t nobody [insert] with me?
That being said, one of the greatest problems with hip hop is its inability to provide effective solutions to the problems of the hood while presenting itself as some type of savior for its people. Since the 1970’s hip hop as done nothing to help the hood except throw its women on BET while some self styled Uncle Tom runs a credit card through their cleavage, served to degenerate basic language skills; create a culture of hyper masculinity based on a feeling that one is greater than God!
In addition, it allows people to create false heroes. In a Muslim summer camp some years back a brother said, “Tupac was a kafir fasiq!” Suddenly a Muslim youth began to cry saying, “Don’t’ talk about him! He was a righteous man! He did great things!” When I was a D.J. I had a friend who called me one night after a Tupac show, “Wax! That N*$*# tried to rape me!” So much for being a righteous man concerned about the plight of the women of the hood. The last image of Tupac kicking that man in the lobby is telling. It represents the very controversy that hip hoppers live: claiming to love the hood, but raping and mutilating it at will. I remember when Biggie was gunned down in a hail of bullets, hijabis at a local Islamic school started crying saying “He isn’t dead!” Where were the tears for the 24.000 people who die every day of hunger?
Now in our own communities we allow hip hoppers and entertainers to stretch the limits and moral of our community in the name of dawa and popularity?
That is the reality of hip hop and its lesson is clear: any act not founded on the general principles of Islam is bound to wreck havoc on communities. Unfortunately Muslims are adopting the same attitude. Musicians and other entertainers are given the status of Muslim Messiah’s, paid up to $40.000 dollars per performance while Imam’s like Siraj Wahaj have to be put in the public sphere just to raise money for their cancer treatment! While Muslim bloggers went rapid over Jacko’s funeral, what was done to save masjids closing in New Jersey and to raise funds for the family from Mali who lost 8 children in a tragic fire some time ago! Again, our priorities are telling. I will be honest, I have struggled with this for some time trying to understand where our brothers and sisters are coming from. But after greater reflection and thought I’ve realized that there is no good in these endeavors. What they have served to do is take many of our practicing brothers and sisters a notch down. Instead of listening to the shuyukh, Qur’an and memorizing Qu’ran, Hussari Cd’s are replaced with loads of Nashid artists and comedians. I noted once that a brother had well over 500 songs on his I-phone and not one Islamic lecture or Qur’anic reciter. Again, the fruit from this entertainment enterprise is bitter and its seeds are spoiled. It is another symptom of the C.R.E.A.M virus.
While I’m open to certain types of music, I find hip hop and the idea that it is a savior sickening. It has gotten to such an extreme that artist like KRS ONE are claiming it an independent religion calling it the “Temple of Hip-Hop.”
Dr. Trica Rose said it well,
“I’m dismayed by the genius of hip hop and the production of music as the unconscious promotion of misogyny,” she said. “They are always looking for a new way to rap about the domination of women and other people. They use the same limited language of insult. It’s not lyrically creative. The ‘N’ word, the ‘B’ word…we’ve got all of those words. They can’t seem to not say it, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction to prove you’re down. It filters into male-female relationships and the ‘pimp-ho’ model becomes a reasonable way to construct relationships.”
On the Imrul al-Qaiys of this century Kanye West she said:
““He’s a self-promoter. He has talent, but his music is not as conscious. People see him as some sort of radical savior, which is part of the problem I am talking about. If he wants to say Bush hates black people, he needs to figure out what the answer is. I know 10 academics who would help him.”