The RZA's Religious Ruminations (ReligionDispatches)

RZA's The Tao of Wu: Hip Hop Religion, Spiritual Sampling, and Race in a "Post-racial" Age You'd think that seven years after the release of Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” that there would be little need to explain the link between Hip Hop music and religion. Yet in a recent NPR interview, I was asked once again what the often profane posture of Hip Hop has to do with the sacred aspirations of spirituality. So perhaps it is still necessary to pause at the outset and offer a few examples as a reminder to readers of rap music’s long tradition of religious ruminations.

In fact, one can trace a trajectory that goes back as far MC Hammer’s 1987 debut album, Let’s Get it Started, which featured the gospel track, “Son of the King.” Such spiritual lyricism continued through the prophetic musings of Tupac Shakur, the biblical (re)imagination of Ja Rule (i.e. Rule 3:16), the Muslim message of Lupe Fiasco, and the messianic aspirations of Remy Ma, whose 2008 album was simply titled, Shesus Khryst.

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