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The Black Church And Hip-Hop

In “No Church In the Wild,” the opening track off “Watch the Throne” from hip-hop mega stars Jay-Z and Kanye West, Jay-Z asks, “I’m wondering if a thug’s prayers reach?”

One of the big questions in the song is, “Will we make it out alive?” And one of the big complaints is, “It’s something that the pastor don’t preach. It’s something that a teacher don’t teach.”

In his new book, Emmett G. Price argues that the black church and hip-hop culture represent two ends of a growing generational divide within the black community. And it’s a divide he describes as “extreme, volatile, destructive… and wider than ever.”

Yet Price argues hip-hop and the black church are essentially fighting for the same thing — or at least should be: a sense of meaning, community and connection to one another. According to Price, just as the black church sustained the civil rights generation, it needs to reach out to the hip-hop generation and build a dialogue. He says that’s the only way the black community can move forward together.

In Price’s introduction, he writes, “If the Black Church were more vigilant toward the needs, concerns, and desires of its…young people during the late 1960s and early 1970s, there probably would be no Hip Hop culture.”

So what happened back then? How did the black church lose its connection to the current hip-hop generation?

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