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The Rapper as Shaman for a Band of Dancers of the Spirit: “U Can’t Touch This”

The Rapper as Shaman for a Band of Dancers of the Spirit: “U Can’t Touch This” The Rapper as Shaman lor a Band ol Danters ol the Spirit: #U Can't Touth This" Philip M. Royster Rap music is now undoubtedly the most significant popular conveyor of the spiritual traditions of African-American cultures. These tradi­ tions are important because they help African Americans to live effectively in the present, as well as to understand what is enduring in the culture they have inherited. Among the more prominent contem­ porary rap artists, MC Hammer stands out as one who proclaims openly the spiritual tradition within secular black music and culture. But to see this proclamation clearly, one must know something of the African-American tradition of approaching and revealing the divine force through media and vocabularies that the European-American culture tends to regard automatically as profane. Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" is a signifying call that rearticulates suppressed tradi­ tional African values that have survived and flourished despite Euro­ American imperialism and cultural hegemony. Indeed, this African- 1 . By spiritual I am referring to all the signs, symbols, and behaviors that enable us transcend the apparent limits of object, time, and place in order to experience an to oneness with the energy of existence, to be in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

The Rapper as Shaman for a Band of Dancers of the Spirit: “U Can’t Touch This”

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Copyright
Copyright © 1991 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-5.1.60
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The Rapper as Shaman lor a Band ol Danters ol the Spirit: #U Can't Touth This" Philip M. Royster Rap music is now undoubtedly the most significant popular conveyor of the spiritual traditions of African-American cultures. These tradi­ tions are important because they help African Americans to live effectively in the present, as well as to understand what is enduring in the culture they have inherited. Among the more prominent contem­ porary rap artists, MC Hammer stands out as one who proclaims openly the spiritual tradition within secular black music and culture. But to see this proclamation clearly, one must know something of the African-American tradition of approaching and revealing the divine force through media and vocabularies that the European-American culture tends to regard automatically as profane. Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" is a signifying call that rearticulates suppressed tradi­ tional African values that have survived and flourished despite Euro­ American imperialism and cultural hegemony. Indeed, this African- 1 . By spiritual I am referring to all the signs, symbols, and behaviors that enable us transcend the apparent limits of object, time, and place in order to experience an to oneness with the energy of existence, to be in

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 1991

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