Islam has actually become a more and more common influence on hip hop. Some of the most important hip hop artists of our generation openly embrace islam (for example, Mos Def).
However, there is a fundamental difference between artists who embrace their Islam, and Muslim artists who really base their whole stage concept around Islam. There are numerous groups popping up all over the place, showing that hip hop is making inroads into all different types of cultures.
Several groups are becoming increasingly prominent. Brother Ali is probably the most well known out of the US, and he’s been getting more and more love on the underground circuit. Ali is a convert to Islam and is a white dude (he’s actually an albino), which originally caused him no end of grief. However, people have come to accept his conversion
Here’s Soul Whisper by Brother Ali. [audio:http://www.4080records.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/16-soul-whisper.mp3]
Outlandish, a Danish hip hop quartet is one of the most well known. In fact, at the University of South Florida, two students named Jawad Fayiz and Akbar Qayum won a talent contest and got the opportunity to open up for Outlandish. They call themselves D-Clique (admittedly a pretty poor name) but their message is interesting. They advocate some pretty strict Islamic values (abstaining from alcohol and dating), but also preach about respecting women and touch on some lighter topics.
Here’s Stand Tall (Acoustic) from D-Clique[audio:http://cache10-music01.myspacecdn.com/77/std_36710bec3ac7df0d6a05699c2a8bd6d3.mp3]
There are other notable groups out there. Mecca2Medina is definitely the biggest name out of the UK, Australia has the Brothahood (who have one of the best MySpace sites I’ve ever seen), and obviously many other countries have their share of representation. To kill two birds with one stone, here’s a collabo track between Mecca2Medina and the Brothahood:[audio:http://cache03-music02.myspacecdn.com/66/std_09a06104c8aaedf39fb845d5f4f9d981.mp3]