Why is the battle between good and evil a recurring theme in rap lyrics? What role does the devil play in hip hop? What exactly does it mean when rappers wear a diamond-encrusted "Jesus" around their necks? Why do rappers acknowledge God during award shows and frequently include prayers in their albums? Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta's God tackles a sensitive and controversial topic: the juxtaposition--and seeming hypocrisy--of references to God within hip hop culture and rap music.
This book provides a focused examination of the intersection of God and religion with hip hop and rap music. Author Ebony A. Utley, PhD, references selected rap lyrics and videos that span three decades of mainstream hip hop culture in America, representing the East Coast, the West Coast, and the South in order to account for how and why rappers talk about God. Utley also describes the complex urban environments that birthed rap music and sources interviews, award acceptance speeches, magazine and website content, and liner notes to further explain how God became entrenched in hip hop.
Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D. is a professorpreneur. As a Professor of Communication Studies at California State University Long Beach she researches, publishes, and teaches interpersonal communication. Her expertise has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network as well as other national and international radio, print, and online outlets. As an entrepreneur, she curates experiences and develops products for social impact. Her contributions include but are not limited to raising awareness about the dark side of technology, improving romantic relationship communication, supporting women recovering from infidelity, preventing domestic violence, and healing through yoga. Her two worlds collide as the Associate Director for the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CSULB.
Dr. Utley, I'm so sorry it took me 6 years to finish reading Rap and Religion, but it was worth the wait...the book was amazing! I found myself reading and re-reading passages because the analyses were so deep and complex. I learned about Jesus pieces and the Five Percent Nation, and I learned how both inform hip hop messages of resistance. You deftly illustrated how the iconography, lyrics, and "real life" happenings work together in hip hop to resist persistent oppression. And I must say, that final sentence was pretty bad ass ;) Extraordinary work!