Indiana University Bloomington
Arts and Sciences News at Indiana University Bloomington

Former Student Ebony Utley Tenured

Publishes Book on Gangster Rap

Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012

Rap and Religion

Ebony A. Utley, BA 01, was recently tenured and promoted to associate professor at California State University at Long Beach. She published her first book, "Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta\'s God" (Praeger 2012), and launched a companion website at

Utley's book tackles a sensitive and controversial topic: the juxtaposition—and seeming hypocrisy—of references to God within rap music. Hip hop culture and rap music in particular have been condemned for inciting violence, promoting misogyny, and perpetuating racial stereotypes. Utley argues that religion has always been an integral part of the urban environments that birthed rap music, and she shows exactly how a God-sanctioned gangsta identity can be empowering. Utley sources lyrics, videos, award acceptance speeches, magazine and website content, liner notes, and survey data to provide an enlightening, representative account of how and why rappers talk about God.

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