For many young Muslim Americans, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist and Chicago native Lupe Fiasco is more than a rapper with cool beats.

To them, Fiasco, a devout Muslim who often slips his faith into his music, symbolizes the struggle of young Muslims to reconcile their spiritual identity with their place in American society.

Early in his music career, Fiasco touched on that conflict in a personal song called “Muhammad Walks.” Using music from the Kanye West hit “Jesus Walks,” Fiasco rapped about the tenets of Islam in a way that his generation could understand. The song appeared on no album, but “Muhammad Walks” traveled by word of mouth and the Internet, reaching Muslims worldwide and becoming a contemporary religious anthem.

This Sunday, Fiasco is the headline performer for “Takin’ It to the Streets,” one of the largest community festivals in southwest Chicago and what organizers say is the only event of its kind in the nation put together by Muslim Americans.

More than another summer festival, the “Streets” event brings together artists, entertainers, religious scholars and activists to show the diversity of young Muslim America and how the next generation is trying to improve their communities. The 6th biennial festival, organized by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) is expected to draw nearly 4,000 people from California to Canada.


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