I had recently attended a Wu Tang Clan concert in February where Rhymefest featuring Zzaje was one of the opening acts. So I was very excited when I saw Rhymefest’s name on the panel for “Reppin a Movement: Hip Hop, Spirituality & the Politics of Change”. The full panel consisted of Rhymefest (hip hop educator), Brother Ali (hip hop artist), Cap D (IMAN Board Member, lawyer and EmCee), and Jacinda Bullie (Co-Executive Director of Kumba Lynx). The moderator for the event was Dr. Rami Nashashibi (Executive Director of IMAN). The event was held at the University of Chicago International House on February 10th.
The forum attracted people from all walks of life, from religious to secular, from young to old, and from the inner-city to suburbs. All the artists are Muslim and converted to Islam. In responding to the questions asked by Dr. Nashashibi and the audience, the artists spoke about Spirituality, Politics of Change, and Hip Hop as an industry. The artists also spoke about their upbringing, the direction hip hop is going in, their conversion to Islam, social consciousness, civic and social change, and how spirituality plays a part in their daily life.
The forum created a space for the audience and the artists to engage at a deeper and more intimate level. I have attended concerts performed by Rhymefest, Brother Ali and Cap D, and I own their CDs. After attending the forum, I am able to resonate with the their music as I learn more about the artist’s life and the stories behind the music. I have a new found respect and appreciation for the artists and their work. I look at them as poets who are telling a story from their point of view. I would like to thank IMAN and other organizations for producing such an auspicious event.