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INTERVIEWS

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III Talks About Bridging The Gap Between Religion & Hip-Hop

According 2 Hip-Hop’s Mike D was granted the opportunity to sit down with Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III. s the pastor of¬†Chicago’s¬†Trinity United Church of Christ. He espouses¬†black theology¬†and speaks about reaching¬†inner-city¬†black youth. Trinity United Church of Christ¬†is a predominantly¬†Black American church¬†with more than 8,500 members. It is located in the¬†Washington Heights¬†community on the¬†South Side¬†of¬†Chicago. In early 2008, as part of their¬†presidential election¬†coverage, news media outlets and political commentators brought Trinity to national attention with President Barack Obama being one of Trinity’s longtime members.

It is now 2023 and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III has released his book entitled “Dancing In The Darkness; Spiritual Lessons For Thriving In Turbulent Times”. The book contains many life lessons, as did his interview with Mike D.

Moss begins the interview by speaking about the power of Hip-Hop, “Hip-Hop is connected to the broader black, historical, and spiritual tradition. You’ve got your five pillars of Hip-Hop. You’ve got the oral, the rapping, you’ve got the use of technology of DJing you have the, the graffiti the art, you have break dancing, the utilization of black kinetic energy, and then you have the knowledge, the search, the distribution, the use of knowledge, and that in itself is a spiritual reading that comes out of the African tradition. It’s always a spiritual tradition because we recognize that the Spirit that God flows and functions in all aspects and so whether someone is spitting lyrics or whether someone is tagging a wall, they are also utilizing something that is ancient, and that is spiritual. And that’s one of the reasons that I love Hip-Hop.”

Rev. Dr. Moss III continued by saying, “I came up during the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, at the time Hip-Hop is becoming kind of a new national voice for Black People. Without a doubt, the brother that blessed me in a myriad of ways was Rakim, hearing his level of lyricism and then the creation of hooks the way Rakim created. How I see it is you have a Rakim, and then from Rakim you have someone like Nas. There would be no Nas if there wasn’t someone like Rakim and then Nas takes that to a completely different level with the Illmatic. I was also a big fan of The Native Tongue Movement. Absolutely. loved everybody from you know, Tribe to Leaders Of The New School to the Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, that whole aesthetic.”

When asked if there was a disconnect between the youth and the Black Church Rev. Moss III responded by saying, “I think there definitely is a disconnect. I think that one of the things that the black church has to do is become Black again. There are Black Churches with Black People. And then there’s the Black Church tradition. The Black Church tradition is Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and Harriet Tubman. It’s a liberation and transformation, the Black Church tradition is a space that can embrace folks who are seeking knowledge of self and also lift up and partner with those who are going through their fast during Ramadan because we recognize that we want to liberate the entire community though I’m rooted in this one particular tradition. Just being part of a community with a church that has some Black People? That’s very American, that’s seeking to assimilate and integrate versus empower. And the church is going to have to one, be authentic in its communication, to see transformation in the community. And three, be unashamed and unapologetic about its roots, its culture, where it comes from.”

Checkout the full interview below.

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