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This essay explores the legacy of Malcolm X as it is reinterpreted among contemporary young people with an emphasis on his influence on African American Muslim youth in university communities through rap music. Islam has been the iconic religion of hip-hop (rapping, dejaying, breakdancing, and graffiti art) since the beginning of this complex youth-music culture in New York City in the 1970s. Previous studies of Malcolm's influence on hiphop have focused on his early years as a hustler and later as a member of the Nation of Islam with an interpretation that resonates with the urban street-reporting themes of drug dealing and incarceration in gangsta rap. However, analysis of the aspects of Malcolm X's Pan-African internationalist insights and programs in the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity that are reinterpreted by contemporary rappers and MCs (masters of ceremonies) sheds light on the progressive potential of the music and the complex interrelationship between Islam, hip-hop, and black nationalism in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The university-based hip-hop audience with regard to the influence of Malcolm X is important for several reasons. Malcolm's Autobiography is now part of the canon of some university curricula and therefore Muslim and non-Muslim youth in university communities have become sophisticated, critical readers of his religious and political philosophies.
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