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By All Means Necessary – Representations of Islam in American Hip-Hop Album Cover Art

Publiceringsår: 2011
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag


Abstract in Undetermined

This paper focuses on album cover art, which is a scarcely studied subject when it comes to academic analyses of hip-hop music. Even though hip-hop and Islam are widely studied subjects, scholars, with few exceptions, typically have focused on Islamic themes in lyrics. This paper aims to contribute to the study of Islamic visual expressions within the hip-hop culture. Many hip-hop artists have expressed their Islamic faith through the artwork on their albums, a practice that dates back to the early days of hip-hop. This Muslim hip-hop album cover art often is filled with symbols and allusions to the Islamic faith. Even though the hip-hop culture is a global phenomenon this paper mainly focuses on the American hip-hop scene.

In examining a selection of hip-hop albums, including some that depict highly controversial allusions to Islam and others whose allusions to Islam are barely perceived, this paper aims to shed light on the relationship between album cover art and the diversity of, and even contradictory beliefs in Islam that manifest and coexist within the American hip-hop community. This diversity ranges from non-mainstream Islamic movements, such as the Nation of Islam and the Nation of Gods and Earths to various interpretations of Sunni Islam; all are different traditions that struggle for space and their right to interpret and define Islam. This paper's theoretical frame(s) are drawn from cultural studies, more specifically notions of “cultural borrowing”. It also draws from previous findings from the field of hip-hop studies concerning the historical legacies and Muslim influences that have shaped hip-hop music.


  • Other Social Sciences
  • African-American Islam
  • music
  • Islamic studies
  • Islam
  • hip-hop


The Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting (MESA), 2011

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