Cultural Arts Review: Stereotypes of Islam and the Rap Game

Posted on October 8, 2012 by


When many of us think about rap music, we do not usually associate a man like Brother Ali to the stereotype of a modern day rap star. Ali, an albino Minnesota based rap star breaks down that stereotype and raps to thousands powerful messages about today’s world. Another stereotype that is not always thought of when it comes to rappers is their religion. Brother Ali is Muslim, which may or may not be known to many and for many surprises us that a rapper would be of that faith. But Brother Ali is not a lone Muslim in the rap game. He is joined by fellow Muslim rappers: T-Pain, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, Ice Cube, Akon, DJ Khaled, and many more. Many of these rappers will have their big mainstream hits that you’ll hear on the radio, but for many of them, they rap about their beliefs in their faith.

So what does this mean? I guess it really is up for your own interpretation, but honestly, I think it’s very interesting on how different our views of Muslims’ can be from a western-culture standpoint, especially in our post 9/11 society. From our western view we stereotype Muslims’ as living in the Middle East, non-English speakers, and as of the recent video which took shots at Muhammad we see them as a very anti-American sort of religion.  I feel like many westerners do not give a good wrap to the Muslim faith of Islam as a whole. But we always tend to put famous Muslim Americans in a different light, in a very unfair way. We can look back to the 60’s and 70’s with famous Muslims like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Two very prominent and famous converted Muslim-Americans who accrued many followers. Several of their followers and fans were not of the Muslim faith but still listened and learned from the messages which they provided, like when Malcolm X would preach for equality in the world, or when Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War. But we always seem to put the “celebrities” who practice Islam in a different light than the “rest” of the Muslims’, when in reality, we should be listening to these famous Muslim-Americans to learn more about Islam and what Muslims’ are really all about. When everything boils down to its base, many Muslims all have the same beliefs and practices that they share. We shouldn’t be afraid of Muslim’s because of their faith. Although this is may be obvious, but just because someone is Muslim, does not mean that they are only concerned with the Middle East where a large majority of Muslims are. Like all of these famous Muslim-Americans’, they all give valuable teachings of their faith to us here in America.

Brother Ali, along with his most recent album has also provided a fair share of controversy. In his newest albums cover, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color,” Brother Ali is seen kneeling on the American flag in a Muslim prayer position. He is not doing this to show disrespect to his country, but to show that he cares for and prays for his country that he loves. This could be taken very harshly by some Americans if it was any other “ordinary” Muslim, but Ali has a much deeper meaning behind this cover that people need to understand.  This album is his “prayer for America”, and not Islamic propaganda bashing the United States and Christianity as some has seen it as. He raps about opposing the war in Afghanistan, his own personal struggles, as well as struggles in America since his last album “Us”. Personally I believe Ali is one of the best Muslim-Americans to listen to in order to get a good look at what Islam is really all about, and how it is not just an anti-Christian, anti-American religion from the Middle East. We all know that there is good and bad to every religion by what our media shows us, but these musicians show us a completely different side of Islam that we are not used to being shown in our current time by our nations media. We can all take a huge lesson about tolerance and other religions ways from this one “controversial” album.



Posted in: Islam