Hip-hop is educational, political and historical, to name a few descriptors. The genre that started in the Burning Bronx during the late ‘70s amid urban decay is now being taught at universities and studied by scholars.
For instance, Harvard University’s Nasir Jones Fellowship seeks to illmatic scholars to add to the field of hip-hop research. The educational hip-hop baton has been passed from the lyrical engrossing history lessons of KRS-One and Nas to the inner-city blues of Jay Z and Kendrick Lamar to the moral instructions of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest to Chance the Rapper, as well as the layered intellectual sixteens of Lupe Fiasco and Ab-Soul. In fact, Soul’s Do What Thou Wilt was directly inspired by Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law.
Even politicians have become aware of rap music’s potency. President Barack Obama recently invited a slew of rappers to the White House to discuss criminal reform and his My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Rappers like Killer Mike and Pusha T have campaigned with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, respectively, during the 2016 presidential election.
With Ab-Soul’s The Book of Law-inspired DWTW playing on our smartphones, VIBE looks past the bravado of dining at Benihana’s, rocking Balmain jeans or moving ounces of cocaine and compiled a list of politically-charged, socially aware and religious songs that may have been inspired by intriguing and engaging books.
Oh, you gon’ learn today.