Kanye West, Matisyahu and Lupe Fiasco Essay examples

Kanye West, Matisyahu and Lupe Fiasco Essay examples

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In 21st century North America, there is a strange, seemingly-unanimous idea that, to fit the norm, one must be white, Christian and male. While, over the course of the latter 20th century and in the past decade, this has changed, the norm is very much still Christian and male; African-Americans now fit into the “All-American” stereotype, for the most part. However, there are, of course, outliers – deviants from the standard norm; these outliers make one wonder what the norm truly is, why it is so, how did it get to be that way, and what the norm will be in the future. Kanye West's 2004 single titled “Jesus Walks” is written as a ode to Jesus helping him and every other Christian through hard times in their life. Sampling the same beat and background vocals, Lupe Fiasco customizes West's song to fit his own spirituality, in “Muhammad Walks.” Finally, Matisyahu employs his gift of verse and beat-boxing to distribute a rap about his religion, Judaism, over the airwaves and on television. Both Matisyahu and Lupe Fiasco challenge the societal norm of Christianity, while Kanye West solidifies the claim that Christianity is a syncretic religion.
Chronologically, “Jesus Walks” came first out of the three songs and videos. It could be argued that West's foray into the religious-rap genre of music is what paved the way for Matisyahu and Lupe Fiasco, because “if [West talks] about God [his] record won't get played.” Lyrically, West has created a purely Christian rap song that heavily advocates the religion and says, bluntly, that the goal of this song is to “convert atheists into believers.” In this point in his career, West had just released his first CD that was critically acclaimed; he was finally getting praise for his...


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...ssein, however, as Lupe says, their true leader is Allah. Lupe is not trying to “sell” his religion, he is merely displaying the information so as to inform fans of rap music about Islam, and to maybe clear some misconceptions that have been spread in the media. While “Jesus Walks” was highly syncretic and “King Without a Crown” made no attempt to entice people into adopting Judaism, “Muhammad Walks” takes the middle ground – not outright seeking people to join the religion, but writing a song with lyrics that would also be suitable for an information pamphlet on Islam.
To relate these songs and videos to culture, one would have to scale down what is meant by “high” culture. In this instance, it could be safe to say that Kanye West's music is regarded as high culture, in 2011 North America; at least, Kanye West likes to think his music is considered high culture.

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