I always find it kind of funny that when accepting an award for his hit “Kill em all; Till they Fall,” MC Pullatrigga gets on the mic and says, “First of all, I would like to thank God.” Or during a magazine interview, Sexxx Thugstress innocently tells a reporter how her close relationship with her Savior gave her the strength to write, “If the Escalade is Rockin’ Don’t be Knockin.” As grandma would say, “Chile, let me move ’cause I know that lightnin’ is fixin’ to strike.”

From as far back as history records, African people have had a reverence for the Supreme Being. From the African people who laid the foundation for modern religion, to the old lady across the street who never misses a Sunday service regardless of rain, sleet or snow, we have always had a strong spiritual connection with the Creator. Many of us have vivid memories of receiving our first whippin’ for mocking Reverend Jones or Sister Ruth Ann when she got in “the spirit” one Sunday morning. We found out early that playing with “tha Lawd” was a definite no, no!

Historically, music and spirituality have walked hand in hand. Music is more than just something to help us get our party on; it is a divine expression of our respect for the gift of life. It was our spirit-filled songs that helped us keep the faith, even when we were being beaten by the slave-master and forced to work in the hot cotton fields from sun up to sun down. And it will be our song that leads us to the liberation of our people from mental slavery. The spirituality of African people has always been a thorn in the side of the oppressor. Our faith has been like that trick birthday candle that, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t blow it out.


For many young Brothas and Sistas who are disillusioned with organized religion, today hip hop has become the faith of choice. They traded in the King James version of the Bible for the gospel according to the White-owned media and entertainment industry who, at least, had the foresight to put pictures of Black people on the covers of their magazines. The laws revealed to Moses were traded for the “Ten Crack Commandments.”

The problem is that our African spirituality makes it hard for us to believe that anyone could be so evil as to use our music and spirituality as a genocidal weapon. So many have underestimated the depths that White supremacists would sink to keep the masses of African people oppressed.

The oppressor knows that the only way to totally destroy a people is to separate them from their connection to the Creator. Once their spiritual immune system is broken down, people are left open to all the vices that plague the planet: drugs, disease, violence, etc.

Our African ancestors knew that it was not only the right, but also the responsibility of the elders to give guidance to the younger generation because it was they who would determine the future of the tribe. But today, even our most learned elders seem to be intimidated by children just because they can quote rap lyrics like the old folks quote scripture. When adults stop trying to win a popularity contest with 14-year-olds and stand up and speak truth, then will the end of our oppression come.

Rappers Bone Thugs-n-Harmony once asked, “What ya gonna do; when there ain’t no place to hide, when judgment comes for you?” So, hip hop today is at the Crossroads. We must make a decision as to which road we will take: the road to liberation or the road to slavery; the path that will ensure a future for the next generation or the path that will lead to its destruction.

(Minister Paul Scott is a writer based in Durham, N.C. He may be reached at (919) 451-8283.)