America’s Hip-Hop Foreign Policy

How rap became a battleground in the war on terror
Hisham Aidi Mar 20 2014, 8:49 AM ET

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A rapper performs at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012. (U.S. Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

For several years now, American and German officials have struggled with how best to respond to Deso Dogg. The Ghanaian-German artist, whose legal name is Denis Cuspert, gained popularity during the mid-2000s as a pioneer in Germany’s gangsta-rap scene, performing with DMX and recording tracks like “Gangxtaboggy,” “Daz Iz Ein Drive By,” and “Meine Ambition Als Ridah.”

In 2010, following a car crash, he embraced Islam and began documenting his Malcolm X-like transformation—from a life of women and bling to the “straight path”—in lyrics and music videos. Soon enough, he left hip-hop altogether and became a Salafi named Abu Maleek, embracing an ultra-conservative strain of Sunni Islam that frowns upon music and the use of instruments.

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