Islam and Hip Hop: Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?

Repost: After a walk down memory lane, I thought I’d repost this entry:
Gangstarr’s 1991 track must have dropped a seed. Three years after viewing this video on the daily on Rap city, there I was, as a Muslim. It was summer of 1994, in Atlanta. I was covered, rockin the head wrap and a printed wrap around skirt. I was so pumped when Guru hit the stage,One of my favorite memories…

Who’s Gonna Take the Weight
Intro:
“Knowledge is power, and knowledge can be the difference between life
or death…you should know the truth and the truth shall set you
free.”

Verse 1
I was raised like a Muslim
Prayin’ to the East
Nature of my life relates rhymes I release
like a cannon
Cuz I been plannin’ to be rammin’ what I wrote
straight on a plate down your throat
So digest as I suggest we take a good look
At who’s who while I’m readin’ from my good book
And let’s dig into every nook and every cranny
Set your mind free as I slam these thoughts
And just like a jammy goes pow [FX: Gunshots]
You’re gonna see what I’m sayin’ now
You can’t be sleepin’
cuz things are gettin’ crazy
You better stop being lazy
There’s many people frontin’
And many brothers droppin’
All because of dumb things, let me tell you somethin’
I’ve been through so much that I’m such
a maniac, but I still act out of faith
that we can get the shit together so I break
on fools with no rhymes skills messin’ up the flow
And people with no sense who be movin’ much too slow
And so, you will know the meaning of the Gang Starr
Guru with the mic and Premier raise the anchor
swiftly, as we embark on a journey
I had to get an attorney
I needed someone to defend my position
Decisions I made, cuz now it’s time to get paid
And ladies, these rhymes are like the keys to a dope car
Maybe a Lexus or a Jaguar
Still, all of that is just material
So won’t you dig the scenario
And just imagine if each one is teachin’ one
We’ll come together so that we become
A strong force, then we can stay on course
Find your direction through introspection
And for my people out there I got a question
Can we be the sole controllers of our fate?
Now who’s gonna take the weight?

Verse 2
The weight of the world is heavy on my mind
So as my feelings unwind I find
That some try to be down just cuz it’s trendy
Others fall victim to envy
But I’ll take the road less travelled
So I can see all my hopes and my dreams unravel
Relievin’ your stress, expressin’ my interest
In the situation that you’re facin’
That’s why I’m down with the Nation
Spirituality supports reality
We gotta fight with the right mentality
So we can gain what is rightfully ours
This is the meaning of the chain and the star
Land is power, so gimme forty acres
Let’s see how far I can take ya
Original invincible
That’s how I’m lookin’ at it
I use my rhymes like a Glock automatic
Any means necessary, I’m goin’ all out
Before the rains bring the nuclear fallout
So let me ask you, is it too late?
Ayo, who’s gonna take the weight?

A young brother noted in Umar Lee’s comments that hip hop taught him some negative things about street life. But for me, hip hop created an opening. It was not uncommon to turn on Rap City and see references to Nation of Islam, 5 percenters, Orthodox Islam, and Afrocentricity. I loved Tribe Called Quest, had a big crush on Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Rakim was the greatest Rapper alive. I was loyal to Poor Righteous Teachers who came from my hometown, Trenton. I thought that KMD’s peach fuzz was way too cute. Public Enemy enemy politicized me. Brand Nubian reminded me that I could throw out a Takbir and be gangsta too.

Mujahideen Ryder wrote about it in his blog entry, Islam: Hip-Hopโ€™s Official Religion. Adisa Banjoko has written two erudite books on the ways Hip Hop artists engage with chess, holistic health, consciousness, and martial arts and address issues that face our communities called, Lyrical Swords.

So, now getting back to Guru’s lyrics.
Last night, as the conversation went on, I began to feel the weight. The burden of a conscious Black Muslim woman has to carry is real heavy. She acknowledged my situation and sadness relating to structural inequalities and systematic forms of oppression. Since these problems are global I felt the weight of the world bear down on me. But just escaping means that I’ll be part of the problem, but I’m trying to be part of the solution. But sometimes, I can’t handle the whole weight and my pessimism takes over. My sister pushed through all my negativity and gave me hope and solace. Her optimism is full of a positivity that grows from a sincere faith in Allah. She reminded me that he’s the light that shines through us and in us and makes us all beautiful. She carried the weight with me. I realized I can only be close to people in my life who are willing to take the weight.

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9 thoughts on “Islam and Hip Hop: Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?

  1. Salaams Margari,

    I hope yopu’;re well, by Allah’s grace.

    Hip Hop has had an immense and somewhat hidden, relationship with Islam. For me, I recall listening to the artists you refer to during my younger days and getting excited when they referred to Islam and Salaam.

    The Gangsta song you quote was an early favourite.

    Thanks for sharing

    Ma’as salama,
    Abdur Rahman

    Like

  2. Salaam,

    Hip Hop was a big influence on me accepting Islam as well. And its that flavor of hip hop that is missing now which is a shame. And as for KMD Mr. Hood album was classic. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  3. Salaam, Please see the Hadiths (Saheeh) and clasical scholars of Islam for opinions on music. I really do not wish to be a mood killer, but it is what it is. The prophet ( peace and blessing be upon him) said: The halal is clear, and the haram is clear.We mustn’t allow our emotions overpower us. Islam is Islam. ALLAH gives us the laws…they are his LAWS. ALLAH knows best.

    Like

  4. Or like everything you can say “you know there’s a khilaf on that issue.” ๐Ÿ™‚
    disclaimer: i do try to avoid music now as the relied upon position of the madhahib prohibit it

    Like

  5. Pingback: Don’t Sleep « Margari Aziza

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