Listening to South Asian Muslim teenagers in the post-industrial British city of Bradford, one can understand how Islamic faith and American hip-hop music have come to coexist. Searching for music that reflects their own experiences with alienation, racism and silenced political consciousness, many teens, even some quasi-religious groups, have turned to the urban music of black America.
Despite the recent popularity of a pop-oriented variant of nasheed devotional music, the musical acts that have garnered the largest followings are not Muslim nor do they focus on overtly Islamic themes. Rather, the teens offer a litany of popular culture icons – American hip-hop and rap artists including Jay-Z, the late Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Young South Asian Muslims throughout the United Kingdom have widely adopted and thoroughly adapted symbols and styles of African-American urban culture. Slang combining northern English colloquialisms as well as Bengali and American gangsta culture now infuses daily conversations in these South Asian Muslim communities.
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