Kanye West's Critique of Prosperity Preaching (ReligionDispatches)

2003 was a pivotal year in the religious history of rap music, if for no other reason than the release of Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout, which featured the song "Jesus Walks." This single signaled a new development in rap music, a genre that in its earlier years was firmly aligned with the visions of racial opposition and religious nationalism articulated by black Muslims, especially NOI and Five Percenters. As much as the song indicated a spiritual shift in hip hop—making Jesus a centerpiece of the culture—it also inaugurated a new (and related) class sensibility. No longer was the voice of "the hood," as a stand-in for the black underclass, dominant. The College Dropout effused the anxieties of a particular black bourgeois sensibility, and the album put the lie to the myth that hip hop and middle-class identity are mutually exclusive. In fact, on the track "All Falls Down," Kanye performed an overdose of the proverbial "conspicuous consumption" as he rapped: I wanna act ballerific like it’s all terrific I got a couple past due bills, I won’t get specific I got a problem with spending before I get it We all self conscious, I’m just the first to admit it

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