Subcultural conveyances: A study of hymn quotations in rap and heavy metal music

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Protestantism’s historical dominance in American culture has far-reaching effects on many facets of popular music and performance. Rap and heavy metal music are no exception. These genres’ positions as cultural artifacts of youth culture in the late 20th century provided ample opportunity for musical conversation regarding Protestantism and religious tradition. This document begins to explore the complex interactions between American Protestantism, hymn repertoire, and rap and heavy metal music. Through archival research, musical analysis, and poetic analysis, I examine possible motivations for the inclusion of hymn quotations in several rap and heavy metal pieces. This study examines quotations of two hymns (John Newton’s “Amazing Grace” and Thomas Ken’s “Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow”) in two rap songs (Beautiful Eulogy’s “Doxology” and Kanye West’s “Selah”) and two heavy metal songs (Stryper’s “10,000 Years” and Nekroi Theoi’s “Doxology”). I begin with a brief examination of the history of each hymn’s authorship and dissemination in America in Chapter 2. Chapters 3 & 4 begin with brief background information on each musical artist and continue with more detailed analysis of each hymn quotation. Though this study represents a small sample size, the cultural influence of Protestant music and culture on these two popular music genres is still evident in each example. I intend to delve into these complex relationships more thoroughly in a further study at the doctoral level.

Hymnology, Popular Music, Rap Music, Heavy Metal Music