Religious Studies | Topics in Religion Studies: Hip Hop: Spirituality from the Underground
R202 | 3632 | Quinton Dixie


I met a critic, I made her shit her draws/she said she thought hip-
hop was only guns and alcohol./ I said, “Oh hell naw, /but see it’s
that too/ you can’t discrimi-hate ‘cuz you done read a book or two.

					Outkast, “Humble Mumble”
		


We aren’t against rap music, but we are against those so-
called “thugs”.

			Rev. Calvin O. Butts, Abyssinian Baptist
Church, New York

							
Hip-hop music is consistently portrayed in the media as a monolithic
expression of urban moral and ethical decay that has seeped past the
city limits and threatens the very fiber of “American” youth. From
the gansta genre popularized by West coast rappers to the classic
booty-shake tracts made famous by groups like Too Live Crew, the most
recognizable face of hip-hop culture is weed smoking, crack selling,
gun toting, and baby making. Despite this public persona, are we to
assume that hip-hop culture is without any moral or spiritual
foundation? The purpose of this course is to map out a tradition of a
broadly-defined spirituality within hip-hop culture. Over the course
of the semester, students will read and hear material that outlines
some of the cultural roots of hip-hop’s often virulent reaction to
organized religion. At the same time, we will examine how certain
faith traditions, particularly the Nation of Gods and Earths (Five
Percenters) and Christianity, have utilized the art form to propagate
their message to the masses of urban youth. Finally, we will explore
the various ways some hip-hop artists represent a prophetic tradition
rooted in an eclectic spirituality that seeks wisdom from various
faith traditions.  This course carries Western Religious Traditions
Credit.