Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, at The William Grant Still Arts Center, showcases how the vibrant history of hip-hop culture was dominated, if not deeply influenced by its relationship to Islam.
Rakim. Public Enemy. A Tribe Called Quest. The Roots. Ice Cube. The Wu Tang Clan. Mos Def. Lupe Fiasco. These are some of hip-hop’s most significant and influential artists. But very few know that these artists, like so many others, identify as Muslim and are connected to the larger world of Islam. Guided by figures such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, hip-hop culture was dominated by its relationship to Islam.
From the foundation of Zulu Nation in the early 1970’s, to the “Golden Age” of hip-hop (1986-1995), and onto the present, Return of the Mecca will showcase these histories through film, video, sound, photography, album cover art, and other media. From the earliest slaves to street corner orators…Black Arts to the world of sport…the prison house to the political platform…and jazz to hip-hop, Black Muslims forged an alternative Black consciousness that imagined themselves not as a national minority, but as part of a global majority.
Curated by Sohail Daulatzai, Creative Director of Razor Step, Professor of Film and Media Studies at University of California, Irvine, and author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom Beyond America.