From the archive
African American cultural production has always served as a way to express attention to the ultimate questions of life: Who are we? Why are we? Where are we? What is the purpose of life? One finds this in likely modes of cultural production like the spirituals, but the same sort of religiously inclined questions are found in the blues. And more recently, a variety of genres of rap music address the same questions in important and insightful ways. Religion is about more than church services, prayers, and the other easy markers. On a more fundamental level, religion is really framed by deep wrestling with the questions listed above, and it is represented in our responses to these important life questions – whether this takes place in the formats and within institutions easily identified as Christian, etc., or not. My course, “Religion and Hip Hop Culture” explores the ways in which hip hop culture, particularly in the form of rap music, speaks to these important and religious questions of life meaning. We don’t simply look for these connections in obvious ways – lyrics that slap listeners with overt religious messages – but we also look at the intersections between rap music and religion in less likely formats.