By Sapelo Square
This week, we invite you to watch to an episode from “Left of Black,” a weekly Black Studies webcast hosted by cultural critic and professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University, Dr. Mark Anthony Neal. In this episode, Sapelo’s Senior Editor Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer discusses how she uses cultural anthropology and hip hop to explore the intersections of race, Islam and popular culture; most notably in her book Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States. She also explores these topics through her one-woman show, Sampled: Beats of Muslim Life. This performance piece, which fuses theater, poetry, and movement, was inspired by George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum and for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuff by Ntozake Shange.
During this engaging interview, Dr. Abdul Khabeer shares her own relationship with hip hop and reminisces about the songs she grew up on, such as “Top Billin’” by Audio Two, and discussing their collective impact on her personal development. For example, she shares how hip hop artist Jean Grae’s cathartic storytelling offers a pathway to explore the art of lyricism outside of a masculine paradigm. In addition, she shares how both cultural and religious identities have formed her perspective. In particular, Abdul Khabeer credits her travel outside of the United States as the impetus for her to explore religious, racial and cultural identities among American Muslim communities through hip hop.