Is It Nation of Islam Time Again in Hip-Hop?

July 19, 2014

A revival of the Nation of Islam connection—if it avoids repeating some of the errors of the past—could signal a new era of consciousness in commercial hip-hop.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, a wave of commercial hip-hop artists, like Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian, Eric B. & Rakim, Paris, Gang Starr, Ice Cube and MC Ren, used their platform to promote political awareness, community uplift and cultural self-determination. They drew their inspiration in part from Islam—as culture, ideology and religion—influenced primarily by the Nation of Islam and its offshoot the Nation of Gods and Earths, or Five Percenters.

As movements, both the NOI and NGE actively engaged hip-hop artists and the communities in which the artists and their audiences lived. The NOI organized anti-crime patrols, established drug-prevention programs and negotiated gang truces. The NGE’s cipher gatherings rewarded those most skilled in wordplay. The theologies of the NOI, and the NGE in particular, proclaimed the black man “God,” and while contested by other Muslim traditions, this fit perfectly within the hip-hop tradition of the superlative boast (who, after all, could top God) and placed black men at the center of hip-hop’s universe.

For Electronica, the NOI is much more than stage props or costumes: He has sampled Elijah Muhammad on his tracks; and in his freestyle remix of Drake’s “We Made It” with Jay Z, he declares the Muslim “shahada”—the testimony of faith that “there is no god but Allah”—in Arabic and proclaims himself “the Farrakhan of rap.” In the days since his performance, Electronica has tweeted and Facebooked even more references to the NOI and its leadership. He’s clearly committed to asserting the presence of the NOI and NGE more broadly in hip-hop music and culture.

And he’s not alone in this NOI revival in hip-hop, and in black culture more broadly. Earlier this year, R&B artist Raheem DeVaughn collaborated with Chicago rapper Rhymefest to release “Final Call (Saviours’ Day).” The song’s title references both the NOI’s annual Saviours’ Day convention and itsFinal Call newspaper, sold by the FOI, who are also featured prominently in the music video.

The Fruit of Islam seem well suited for this role. When Jay Elect stepped to the stage with FOI in tow, he seemed to be channeling a moment from 25 years ago when Public Enemy took to the streets of Brooklyn, also with FOI, to film the Spike Lee-directed video for their anthem, “Fight the Power.” More than an entourage, the FOI’s military like presence conveys a charismatic power onto whomever they secure, a level of real-world seriousness: “They treated him like he was Barack Obama,” remarked one observer of the FOI guarding Jay Z at the festival.

Rapper of Moroccan origin from Bologna: “Through Rap I can express myself”

March 20, 2013

Issam Mrini, aka Lama Islam, was born in Morocco and raised in Bologna, where, from an early age, he was exposed to the hip hop culture. Today, thirty years, Lama Islam is a well-known rapperand known throughout the Italian underground scene.

In 2002 Lama Islam opened a hip hop clothing store in Bologna. The store has become a center for the the hip hop scene in Bologna. “It was not easy to do this project” said Lama Islam “I have made many sacrifices but thank God things are going well and, despite the crisis, I also created my own label ‘Renim.'”

Warning against Salafi action

October 8

 

The president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Hans-Georg Maaßen has warned the public against activists of the German Salafi movement. Since its legal banning, members of the organization Millatu Ibrahim allegedly left Germany and went to Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa in order to mobilize and call Muslims for Jihad actions. Among other activities the Salafi are apparently attempting to build up a new German-speaking media center, based in foreign countries. The goal is to address young Muslims in Germany.

 

The former Rap musician and convert Denis Cuspert, also known as Deso Dogg, and the activist Mohamed Mahmud have left Germany and are wanted by German security forces.

Lupe Fiasco on His New Album, Romney vs. Obama, ‘Muslim Rage’ & More

Lupe Fiasco has no filter. It’s pretty damn refreshing in an industry bursting at the seams with image-conscious rappers and manufactured pop divas. A practicing Muslim, he’s called President Obama “a terrorist,” does not vote in U.S. elections, was a regular fixture at Occupy Wall Street, and had an infamous on-air tussle with the irascible Bill O’Reilly.

The artist formerly known as Wasalu Muhammad Jaco sat down with The Daily Beast for an in-depth interview to promote his new album, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1. Released on Sept. 25, it’s his fourth studio LP and an anticipated follow-up to last year’s Lasers, which made its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. Pt. II, meanwhile, will see the light of day in early 2013.

Food & Liquor II is equal parts searing indictment of American politics, urban history lesson, and demystification of hip-hop culture. On the standout track “Lamborghini Angels,” the rapper riffs on everything from MK-Ultra programming and pedophilia in the Catholic Church to human-rights abuses during the war in Afghanistan.

“This is Lupe’s history,” he says with a grin. “It came from America. Howard Zinn is definitely the inspiration for it. Zinn was the person who gave you an alternative view of American history, and people beat the shit out of him for it. It took decades for people to grasp it.”

Born a Sunni Muslim, Lupe says he fully embraced Islam when his cousin, who had just converted, moved in with the family when he was 13.

“I’ve always felt I’m going to be Muslim till the day I die because I fully understand it and have never wanted to be anything else,” he says.

The subject eventually turns to Innocence of Muslims, the incendiary, anti-Islam amateur film that’s helped fuel rioting in the Middle East. Says Lupe: “They should fight for the dude’s right to make that movie. Unfortunately, we also live in a world with everyone else. America is not its own planet. You can say whatever you want, but have some class.” He adds, “It’s a provocation, but I think that at the same time, the Muslim world is taking it a little too seriously. If you want to battle and protest against it, this is the opportunity to talk about all the great things the Prophet Muhammad has done and the ways he’s inspired people.”

Questions around French rapper Diam’s conversion reemerge with album release

As French rapper Diam’s (born Mélanie Georgiades) releases her fourth album, S.O.S., new questions emerge around her conversion to Islam following the release of photos of the young musician leaving a mosque wearing a headscarf in French tabloid, Paris Match. She has refused to answer questions about her private life in the promotion of her music.

Young French rapper Diam’s converts to Islam

Young French Rapper Diam’s (Mélanie Georgiades) has converted to Islam, explaining to the French Press, “Medicine was not able to heal my soul, so I turned toward religion.”

Diam’s has received a great deal of media attention as she has adopted a black covering and hijab since converting to Islam following marriage to a Muslim man.