With Azeezat Johnson

Hip hop is an art form rooted in resistance. It was created and remixed by young Black Americans who sought to take up space within the brutally anti-Black inner cities of Chicago. From the aerosol spray cans used for graffiti; the mouth manipulations necessary for beatboxing; and the ‘scratching’ and remixing of a family member’s record collection, hip hop was undeniably founded as a critical expression of inner-city Black experiences. Young people used whatever resources they could find to create their very own Black sound and culture.

Even as corporations try to commercialise the hip hop ‘sound’, the culture is grounded in this history of claiming space (in spite of violent systemic inequalities). It continues to evolve alongside other forms of artistic expression in countries like Nigeria, Brazil, France and the UK. It has inspired a generation of Muslim artists and performers who use spoken word to challenge Islamophobia and social injustice (both within and outside of the Muslim community).

The Black Muslim hip hop duo Poetic Pilgrimage – comprising Muneera Rashida and Sukina Abdul Noor – have been trailblazers in the UK scene. Established in 2002, Poetic Pilgrimage demand to be heard on their own terms, and no one else’s. They featured in an Al Jazeera documentary directed by Mette Reitzel in 2015, and continue to inspire young spoken word artists, rappers and hip hop enthusiasts to this day.

The duo as depicted by their friend: therapist and photographer Wasi Daniju.

Elsewhere on Critical Muslim: