Conversion to Islam among Rap and Hip Hop artists, from Ice Cube to Snoop Dogg
Recently there was news of Mike Tyson's Islamic pilgrimage "Mike Tyson testing Mecca pilgrimage as life changing experience." There are also reports of conversion to Islam by Jermaine Jackson and his late brother Michael Jackson. But no group of African Americans have shown more of an affinity for the religion of Islam than Hip-Hop and Rap singers. There is a long list of well known converts, such as Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def, Wu-Tang Clan, Q-tip, Loon, and others depicted in the following video:
Even Snoop Dogg, the rapper and actor notorious for "bad" behavior (drugs, pimping, foul language, crimes, etc.) disclosed last year that he belongs to the Nation of Islam, although he has not elaborated about his religious beliefs. He quit marijuana in 2002 and has gradually become more conservative in his life and career.
Many rappers find Islam through Nation of Islam, a group led by Louis Farrakhan, known for its fighting spirit and militant opposition to white racism and oppression of blacks. It appears that the pro-poor, anti-racist message of Islam (and Nation of Islam) correlates well with the "social justice" message and the rage expressed in Rap and hip hop music.
There is, however, a lot of vice in a typical rap or hip hop song - prostitution, pimping, drugs, vulgarity - that has prompted the creation of Halal Hip Hop music sanctioned by Muslims as a kosher, cleaner, family-oriented version.
Many Muslim rappers, like Loon (or as known by his Islamic name Amir Junaid Muhadith) have distanced themselves from violent and promiscuous lyrics and behavior (see his picture below before and after conversion to Islam). A few others, like Paris, have left Islam (after converting) or stopped practicing it because they find it too restrictive/clean, in an industry that relies on explicit expressions of rage and sexuality to sell albums. Islam promotes modesty, inner peace, and forbids alcohol and pre-marital sex.
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