Poetic Protest: Women, Hip-hop, and Islam (my newest post for THE AVID LISTENER)

In late July I had the pleasure of teaching a session about Hip-hop and Islam at a summer institute sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. (I wrote about that experience here.) As I was preparing my presentation, I decided I wanted to teach / learn more about Muslim women on the mic. And thus this Avid Listener essay was born.

Here’s a teaser: “Rap—and particularly Islamic rap—has long been dominated by male voices. Even at the height of “conscious rap” in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when the airwaves were dominated by MCs affiliated with either the Five Percent Nation or the Nation of Islam, women were hard pressed to create space for their voices and perspectives. There were exceptions, of course, but for every Queen Latifah and Sister Souljah rapping for sisterhood and social responsibility, there were dozens of men and all-male crews spitting misogynist rhymes. Rap is a tough career path for any woman; women who choose to dress conservatively—sporting elaborate head coverings and loose-fitting clothes that cover most of the body—and rap about politics, women’s rights, and the beauties of Islam seem to a larger public the very antithesis of what rap has come to be. But Poetic Pilgrimage and other Muslim female MCs and spoken word artists have begun to challenge our expectations about women in Hip-hop in general and Muslim women in Hip-hop in particular…”

Read the entire essay here. And stay tuned for our October digest: we’ve got more fabulous essays on tap for you!

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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