Islamic Semiotic Resources in US Hip-Hop Culture

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation contributes to the field of Islamic Studies by analyzing how the production of Islam can be seen as the outcome of interactions between actors who define themselves as Muslims as well as those who do not. The argument of this dissertation is that Muslims as well as non-Muslims have used Islamic themes in their artistic productions throughout the history of African American music making, making this historical legacy essential to this musical tradition because parts of it are repeatedly evoked in lyrics, sounds, and imagery. The dissertation develops and gives empirical weight to this argument by using the theory of social semiotics to examine how Islamic themes feature in US hip-hop culture. More specifically, it does so by analyzing three case studies or sites of semiotic contestation. The first case study investigates the use of Islamic semiotic resources in the music video “Paid in Full (Mini Madness: The Coldcut Remix)” (1987) performed by Eric B and Rakim, and remixed by the British electronic music duo Coldcut. The second case study explores and discusses the radically different ways in which US hip-hop artists have made use of Malcolm X and his legacy as Islamic semiotic resources. The third and final site of semiotic contestation examines the ways in which 9/11 and its legacy has been articulated by US hip-hop artists, stressing shifts in the nature of the multimodal articulations over time on the one hand and, on the other, the fact that 9/11—and the following narratives of the “War on Terror”— has become crucial to the framing and understanding of the usage of Islamic semiotic resources within American hip-hop music.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Humanities


Original languageEnglish
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2019 Mar 22
Place of PublicationLund
  • MediaTryck Lund
Print ISBNs978-91-88899-21-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2019-03-22 Time: 14:15 Place: C121, LUX, Helgonavägen 3, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Schmidt, Garbi Title: professor Affiliation: Roskilde Universitet ---