Religion, Diversity, and Hip-Hop

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The impact of religion is sometimes apparent in many different forms of art. One type of artistic expression that religion is sometimes expressed in is music. Whether it is specifically Christian-based music or secular, musicians of all genres may eventually write a song or sing about their religious beliefs at some point. There is a very broad spectrum of diversity in music. People from all around the world with different backgrounds, race, religion, and style can express themselves in this form.

Growing up I was exposed to many different genres of music. Hip-hop, which is classified as a subculture that originated from an African American community in the 1970’s, has always been intriguing to me and is a huge part of who I am. There are four elements of Hip-Hop; rapping, DJing, break-dancing, and graffiti. I will be focusing on the music aspect of Hip-Hop and the large impact religion has on some of these artists that perform Hip-Hop music.

Over the years, Hip-Hop music has gained a bad reputation. Many people find the lyrics to be offensive, obscene, or even racist. A very small portion of it is, but most of it is the complete opposite. Matthew Paul Miller, better known by his Hebrew stage name Matisyahu, is known for the positive messages he delivers through his reggae-rap style music. Matisyahu says his Jewish spirituality has most, if not everything to do with the way he writes music. In his song “Jerusalem”, he raps about ancient history and religious acts that took place in Jerusalem. He also talks about “the world coming together as brothers and sisters” and waiting on “The world to come” or the afterlife in Judaism. In his song “King Without a Crown” he talks about praying to his God and getting to know him and about the moment he was saved. These are just a couple of examples of the use of religion in positive Hip-Hop form.

Even though rap music is sometimes viewed as negative, with some secular hip-hop artists, such as Tupac Shakur, who was...
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