Islam and Hip Hop

There was a time in the history of Hip Hop music when Islam was referred to as it’s unofficial Religion. To many a bold contradiction as the contents and imagery of this industry are wildly conflicting.

The affiliation between Islam and Hip Hop goes as far back as the 1960’s where black Muslim poets experimented with rhyme structure and spoken word delivery. One of the earliest pioneers was the group the Last Poets.

I&H4

The influence of Muslim movements such as the Nation of Islam and the Five Percent Nation was strong within the environments that rap evolved. Their message was that black slavery had stripped them of their identity and that Islam was the faith of their ancestors.

Nation Of Islam

Nation Of Islam

These viewpoints through time would merge into the black urban psyche in parallel with the emergence of Hip Hop in the 80’s. It was inevitable that these often politicalised Islamic beliefs would eventually become a source of reference for influential artists like Public Enemy, Brand Nubian, Nas, Rakim, Gang Starr, Common, Mobb Deep and several members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

The late 90’s and millennium onwards moved away from some of  the conscious inspired Islamic influenced lyrics and allowed mainstream to exploit the more materialistic and explicit side of rap. The struggle to search for answers and provide solutions for societies troubles where drowned out. So where Nas may have once asked

‘who’s to be praised? The mighty dollar — or almighty Allah?’

I&H350 Cent was answering that by saying

Get rich or die trying.’

Arguably Islam’s connection with Hip hop was more a cultural identity for some which was originally pushed by Black political Islamic movements. Despite all of this, as the video depicts, the well informed artists still tip their hat to the core beliefs of Islam even though their content is the polar opposite of what Islam is about.