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Department ofMusic


Christina Zanfagna book cover

Christina Zanfagna book cover

Faculty Spotlight

Christina Zanfagna Authors New Book

In the 1990s, Los Angeles was home to numerous radical social and environmental eruptions. In the face of several major earthquakes and floods, riots and economic insecurity, police brutality and mass incarceration, some young black Angelenos turned to holy hip hop—a movement merging Christianity and hip hop culture—to “save” themselves and the city. Converting street corners to open-air churches and gangsta rap beats into anthems of praise, holy hip hoppers used gospel rap to navigate complicated social and spiritual realities and to transform the Southland’s fractured terrains into musical Zions. Armed with beats, rhymes, and bibles, they journeyed through black Lutheran congregations, prison ministries, African churches, reggae dancehalls, hip hop clubs, Nation of Islam meetings, and Black Lives Matter marches. Zanfagna’s fascinating ethnography provides a contemporary and unique view of black LA, offering a much-needed perspective on how music and religion intertwine in people's everyday experiences.

Holy Hip Hop in the City of Angels is published on University of California Press and is featured on their Music of the African Diaspora series.


A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs. Paper back version available through UC Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.  See ebook link here and paperback link here.


Editorial Reviews

"Holy Hip Hop is an extraordinary book: a treasure trove of information and a tour de force of original research about an intertextual nexus of music, religion, and social practice. Christina Zanfagna reveals how religious rappers negotiate the intersections of the sacred and the secular and the moral and the material as they forge new forms of fabulation and faith inside urban underscapes."—George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place