Alejandro NavaMay 25, 2022
Between God and Hip-Hop
University of Chicago Press 2022
Today I speak with Alejandro Nava about his new book, Street Scriptures: Between God and Hip-Hop (U Chicago Press, 2022). This book explores an important aspect of hip-hop that is rarely considered: its deep entanglement with spiritual life.
The world of hip-hop is saturated with religion, but rarely is that element given serious consideration. In Street Scriptures, Alejandro Nava focuses our attention on this aspect of the music and culture in a fresh way, combining his profound love of hip-hop, his passion for racial and social justice, and his deep theological knowledge. Street Scriptures offers a refreshingly earnest and beautifully written journey through hip-hop’s deep entanglement with the sacred.
Nava reveals a largely unheard religious heartbeat in hip-hop, exploring crosscurrents of the sacred and profane in rap, reggaeton, and Latinx hip-hop today. Ranging from Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Lauryn Hill, Cardi B, and Bad Bunny to St. Augustine and William James, Nava examines the ethical-political, mystical-prophetic, and theological qualities in hip-hop, probing the pure sonic and aesthetic signatures of music, while also diving deep into the voices that invoke the spirit of protest. The result is nothing short of a new liberation theology for our time, what Nava calls a “street theology.”