Channel: Boonaa Mohammed
Series: Boonaa Mohammed - What the Fiqh
Ft. Karim Jabbari & Jaime Brown
© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.
Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah. Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu. Welcome back to another episode of what the fic does sounds very aggressive when you say, right, we need that. Sometimes you gotta wake people up that way. So I'm very honored to have two guests. Join me today. This is the first time I've had actually a sister on the podcast. So you get to represent all right.
Exactly. Okay. So if you would like to first of all, introduce yourself, and we'll talk a little bit about your creative background as well. We just met but I know we we've kind of we've crossed paths in different ways. And we have the weird Canadian connection as well. Yeah, Montreal for a little bit. So you are Kareem Jabari? Yes. And you are a How would you describe what it is you do specifically?
Come a little closer to the mic. My name is Kevin Jabari, and I'm a calligraphy and street artist, Woodfield street artist. And we have our sister here in front of me as well. My name is Jamie Brown. And I am I guess you could say a Jamie of all trades. I do. street art, regular art. I'm a graphic designer. And I am a manager, Mr. Karim Jabbar, I keep them in check.
So and you actually have a very interesting story. I wish we could spend the entire weekend kick him out and just on you, but he's here. So we don't want to make him feel left out. I'll do it.
Right. But I think you know, your background specifically coming from Hollywood coming from the entertainment industry. We're really a lot of Muslim artists. That's where their ambitions lie. Right. It's like you did it in reverse. You were there. And then you left? Yeah, we're we're here. We want to go there. Yeah. Right. So I think that that is definitely interesting. So we'll talk a little bit about that. Before we get into that you brother exam had a very beautiful performance. Okay, we're at Muslim fest right now, for those of you who are not here with us, well, if you're watching, you're definitely not here. But talk to me. People said, I wasn't there. I had a lot. So I
missed it. But you created three of him
working with Jin, or what's
the how do you do that? So can you explain in kind of very similar terminology, what exactly it is you guys did on stage. So basically, like calligraphy is the technique that I use,
to kind of like, use the light as
a tool of writing on stage. And I approached I saw him and I said, I saw this in my performances, and I 945 What do you think, like, I want you to be with me on stage. Let's do it. And it was like two hours before the show. So I kind of like discussed a little bit I made him listen to the instrument. This is like a like a background music that was there. And I was like, Listen,
that's let's work on this theme. And then you improvise on stage. And I'm going to build upon what you do and what you say on stage. Right? Anyway like this. So he was freestyling while he was freestyling he was the last guy who was like, you know, the last guy like looking for light looking for guidance and stuff like that. And then my like calligraphy on stage was like, based on that. So it's like like all of like dramatic and stuff like that. How do you capture the images using a camera? It's a very slow, like, slow shutter? Yeah, yeah, people know it usually under like long exposure photography, right? Okay, so but definitely I use the same technique, but I just connect my
camera to a laptop where I have my own software I see over there that allows me to kind of like do it in real time. So allows me to show people in real time what I'm doing. So I'm standing on stage holding a light, I move the light people see a line on screen, okay. See, and it's hard to explain through audio. Yeah, people might be listening in, they're like, What is going on? As his manager, I will step in and say if you'd like to see this process, you can find him on Kareem jabbari.com. There you go his website. And there's several videos under the video section, which kind of brings it into a visual perspective, rather than just kind of understand. Yeah, it's one of those things
that literally, I was not there. And people explained it to me and I still don't get it. Yeah, and I've, I think I've seen it done before, like, with, like, what do they call it the certain type of photography, it's a it's called a short,
long, long, long, long exposure photography, right? And within that, obviously, you're able to kind of manipulate Yeah, it's like it's called light painting. Basically, it's just long exposure to the shutter speed you protocol, like one second and, and more like one second, five seconds, 10 seconds, whatever you want. And then this allows you to do to use any source of light, and then any shape, any form you do will be you know, like digitally, like into your photo. And I mean, I use this. It's easy to just do some random stuff. Yeah, but for you to
Do something organized, which is writing. It's extremely difficult. You have to see it while you're new. Yeah. So basically people see it on screen. I don't see it on screen. I like I visualize it. And then I work. And I have to write in reverse too. So from left to right, there's so many components that's really complicated. So many components is it's both, it was new. Like, I have to admit that. For the audience here, it was something different because there's a lot of performances, the music, you know, poetry, hip hop, all these things. But our show that we did was different. I can imagine. Definitely, they're very different. And obviously there's, I can see even with a new
calligraphy there's some type of hip hop inspiration or Yeah, can you elaborate on that? I mean, where did your influence come from? How do you get into calligraphy? I really grew up
on the American culture, like listening to the hip hop, like talking about like most def and Wu Tang clan, and NAS and things like that, you know, totally in quality. While I was in Tunis, because I was playing I was a basketball player. Oh, and there was no opposition you play. I used to be a guard then I used to actually like made it to the national team really Jr. Wow, I played University and then two years in a row. We won't we won't like the championship. You gotta let it get you on your shoes. And shall I? Seven years ago Muslim fest? I won the tournament here three Really? tournament? Wow. Yes, there was the French brother called out the jelly. I don't know if you
remember him. Sounds very familiar. Yeah, he's a French guy. He's like, he plays like an one basketball. Okay, both sides. So I was with him and a brother must have a father must have unfortunately passed away. mela, you know, lesson.
So, yeah, the influence of the basketball and hip hop.
And I had the love of letters. I used to look at the books of my father and I used to love you kind of like to just try to imitate, you know, the writing right there. And it was all this these combinations. You know, I ended up playing more basketball focused on a basketball. Later in my life. When I was in Canada. I was I was looking for something to connect me with who I am with my country. It was I was here. And
it was really tough away from my country for my mom for my, you know, brothers and sisters. So calligraphy came to me as like, as a way to just kind of like to connect me with them. Sure. And I was like, I really love it. And I was like, My dream is like, I was dreaming like daydreaming sometimes, like just sitting and then imagine myself like traveling around the world, doing the things that I love. And I this toy, I want to tell because it's very, very.
So basically, I was driving a taxi at night. And I was driving someone to the airport. At this period of my life. I was studying at Concordia University. I was a environmental science engineering engineering student. And I was working taxi at night. And then I was like, I was driving this guy to the airport. And it was like very, very cold like a stormy night.
Snow snowstorm. Yeah, so I dropped him at the airport on the way he's telling me that he's going to Dubai for work as an engineer. And then I just dropped them and then all the whole way on the way back, this entire conversation was running into my mind.
I was like, I am too. I feel like I have a lot of energies that are me that it's contained inside a taxi.
And it's not me taxi wasn't me. Even the studies that I was doing. This wasn't me, Well, clearly had nothing to do with.
So so I was like thinking and asking Mohammed
Ahmed, it took me maybe like two or three years after that moment, Allah, I'm just looking for inspiration. Two or three years, and I was looking for inspiration and getting getting the courage and then getting the, the the, you know, gathering enough, you know, will inside of me to just kind of grab the pen and then write again. And the more I did it, I was like, Wow, it's like, I feel good, you know, but it was a long way a long way for like, how can you transform something from being a passion into something being like your main job, and that hamdulillah I took some serious decisions that I feel like if I didn't have the courage to take certain decision, which is the major
one was to stop working as a taxi driver and to focus on my art, but it was very difficult. That's very scary thing to do. The scary thing I ended up broke. I didn't have enough money to even pay my rent. Sometimes
I need to buy diapers for my baby and I was like, I don't have money. Allah and I was like this for like more than like two years. And I kept believing in making the on everything that happens to me comes from Allah Allah. I always trusted Allah subhanaw taala that
I want to transmit a message through my art, I want to just show
an assorted like this in Canada in Montreal, I was like doing like these workshops called back to basics. Like I wanted to transmit the love of the Arabic language to the new generations, because I felt that it completely disconnected from it. Sure. So Arabic with the interest in Arabic language will come to interest into your identity into your religion and Deen and faith and all of these things. hamdulillah you know, looking at myself, you know, 10 years later, hamdulillah 2015, I was also selected as one of the top 30 public artists in the world, Lord Alhamdulillah, last few months ago, there was the enemy's the first Islamic creativity award that happened in Dubai. And it was
like, more than 300 people selected from all around the world. And we finished second a lot Alhamdulillah It was like a massive award, like a lot of money involved and a lot of opportunities involved I can imagine. And I was like competing with guys like Lou working on like virtual reality and artificial intelligence will light. And I came up on stage. I was like, you know, I write and then I transform like, I mean, not like this, but
they can see. So one of the judges like taking a selfie like this when I was talking on stage. Is that a good sign? I don't know.
Can you see your camera? distracting? It was a good sign. Because I think she pushed for me to be on that position. So Alhamdulillah the guys who was the was one of the first place. It was a Spanish guy working on like video games with budgets of like five $6 million, like his company, and
but how do you make that jump, because, like, I'm also a full time artist. And I think for anyone who has, you know, dedicated themselves to this discipline or whatever it might be, but focused on their craft, it can be a very scary thing. I know a lot of very talented people who literally are still clinging on to that nine to five, which doesn't allow them to invest fully in their passion or their craft, they still have to, you know, put a little bit of time here a little bit of time there. But eventually you do need if you really want to take it serious, you have to make that leap. You have to jump and say okay, this is it. This is my full time gig. Yeah. How do you do that? I did
that. I did that. And it was
I could say this is the decision that constantly that definitely, like got me here. Like it's a it's a leap of faith, which is not. I mean, I say all the time I say a lot. Most of the people are like one decision away from their dreams. Wow. SubhanAllah like sometimes you feel like you're like climbing that mountain is like a is is too high and I can't do it. And then you go back to your nine to five job that's gonna kill you for the entire life. And then it's gonna just imprison all the talent that you have inside of you. I mean, you haven't made any decisions like this. Rule number one. Trust Allah, Allah. Yeah. Like if you don't have trust in Allah like this, trust Allah. Do
something really no have good intentions. Do not do it for the fame. They don't do it for like, have good intentions. And Allah subhanaw taala always always like be an island on the app dB. So always be the way you want them to be for you. Yes. Yeah. So
it's like, it's it's very hard. I see a lot of times, I see people who like studied like fine arts and stuff like that. Yeah. And you can't put it to use No, they can. They can they can pull, like a career that allows them to live up their art. Yeah, it's like,
I mean, you have also to be clever, and you have to be smart in what you do. I was like, gonna be crazy. Yeah, crazy, too. I was thinking Listen, if you want to be just a regular calligraphy artist, and up maybe like writing signs on like, stores, that's what I'm gonna do. Or let me just look for something different. And that period of time was like, I met my friend, very good friend. His name is LCD is one of the biggest readouts. And he and he did my first album cover. So Pamela, well, there you go. So I'll say that your first album cover and I will I saw your first performance in Montreal, around that time when I was witness to the Montreal's very talented. Yeah. So since that
we are very good friends. Mashallah. So I'll see now from the time that you saw him, he was maybe five years
In his career, yeah, no, he's like, really well known. Why? Because he knows he mastered the art of like, being a full time artist. Yeah, he knows how to do so. But I think I think people need to know that being a successful artist is an art.
That's why I said, I mean, you have to be a little crazy. To really believe in yourself. You have to almost because as Muslims, obviously, we don't want to have arrogance. We don't want to have keba. But you have to really believe like, deep down inside, you know, I'm capable of this. I really think that I'm able to do it. Yeah, that is a leap of faith that I think a lot of people never really are able to encompass. Like, it's just something that for whatever reason, they they don't have confidence, or they just don't really believe in themselves. And I think especially in the Muslim world, and Muslim communities and families are is one of those things that's really kind of like,
No, you can do better, you can do better. Like my father, since recently. He kept asking me, yeah, but what do you do for a living?
What are you gonna get a real job?
I was like, No, no, that's a hobby. You can keep it on the side. What's the real job? Because he said this when people ask me and I'm, I don't know what to answer them. Yeah, you know, I have to be doctor like, engineer,
you know, but now I think he's very proud of what I do. Mashallah. But it is one of those things that I think especially as like, Muslim parents, like my kids, I feel like are so fortunate. They're so blessed, because like, their father is a full time artist. And my my wife also is into art. If my kids go into science, I'm going to be so upset. I'm like, Oh my god, I'm like you could you had the green light you could have done whatever you want it so you know, so my my daughter now, isn't it photography. Six years old. I saw I bought her camera. I said, Let's go take some pictures. Whatever. Yeah, if she tells me she wants to be a doctor, I'm like, awesome. So disappointed.
An engineer, engineer.
Everything at your disposal. So true. You know, you know how much like being a creative or being an artist how much enjoy your life? Yeah, a lot on the ninja life and then you inspire others. And then I think, I think a lot of people end up like studying like doctors and whatever and how miserable they're miserable. I think I won't say his name a good friend of mine, but he works with me on my films.
Directly director, cinematographer, like you name it, you can do everything. The guy works nine to five in like a plastic surgery clinic like specializes in some type of equipment where like he somehow removes fat out of people. And he can't let it go. Yeah, I tell him. He's so talented. I'm like, dude, you can make a living out of this. Just leave it all. He's like, I can't. I got bills to pay. I got bills to pay. Yeah, there's that there's like, into the truck. Once you're into it. It's so it's the rat race. Yeah. And you you work in that Corporation, you work in that company, you climb the ladder, you get the next position. And then it's just like, well, I'm already here. Why
live? Yeah. Right. So that's one aspect of art. You have another interesting story. Okay, which is attaining that kind of plateau. Right, working in the entertainment field, being in a perfect professional field in Hollywood, and leaving it all behind? I know, this literally could be an hour long, maybe more discussion, right? But if you can maybe give me an I heard it this morning, we were talking about your kind of intro to your story. Maybe give me a bit of a background. You know, where were you born? Where did you grow up? And how exactly did that journey come along? Going to Hollywood? Oh, yes. Yeah. So I wanted to get way back, but still abbreviate it. So when I was about
12 years old, I was very interested in religion. And I lived on the same street as a library. So I would ride my bike to the library every Saturday for hours and hours, reading books on different religions. And I always said, I'm not going to be Catholic just because my mom is. I want to see what else is out there. And I would read books on everything. And I'd spent just hours and none of it made sense to me. It's upon Allah. I never once found a book on Islam. I don't know if they were all checked out, or if the library just didn't carry them, but I never even heard of it. I knew nothing about it. Okay, fast forward to when I'm in my 20s I find a church. It's, it makes the most
sense to me. It was a nondenominational church and I really learned so many things, a lot of the things in the New Testament in the Bible, the story of you know Moosa and party, the red z And Pharaoh and I knew all these stories from there.
So I carried that with me. I was teaching Sunday school. I was going to church two times a week on Thursday nights even which, in Christianity, like most people don't want to go on Sundays. So I was going every Sunday and then Thursday nights, just as a bonus. I mean, I was into it. I was wearing a Jesus ring. I was doing the whole thing, you know. And so I
just took that with me and moved to LA by myself. I packed everything.
In a car, of course, everyone said, there's no way you can do it. It's impossible. And for me, that's a guarantee that I'm going to do it like, Oh, no, I'm definitely doing it. So give you the the green light to go ahead and show. Yeah. So I moved out there. I was a licensed hairdresser. And so my intention was to be working in some salon because I said, Well, why cut hair and charge, you know, $50 here when I can do the same exact thing and charge $200 in LA makes more sense. So I went out there, and I started doing hair and makeup for music videos, and commercials, things like that. And then I saw the production side of things and how much the production managers made. And I said,
Well, let me see if I can get into this. So I ended up working on an HBO show, and one of my colleagues was Muslim. And I asked him, I said,
you know, why don't you come to church with me? Because, of course, I'm trying to save him, giving him that
crescendo, and I was like, oh, come to church with me. And he wanted nothing to do with it. And he said, you know, thank you for the offer. That's nice of you. But you know, I'm good. And it's like, No, just come You know, it's not a lifetime commitment. You don't have to sign a contract. If you don't like it. Okay, then don't come back. And he was like, Thank you really, but honestly, like, there's a, there's a 0% chance, we're gonna go with you pretty sure he wasn't gonna come. Yeah, he was like, that's not my scene. Like, okay, so I then I got to thinking, I was like, Well, what got him so hooked on his own religion, that he won't even humor me and come one time. So I was thinking
about, and I said, You know, I could throw Bible verses at him, but it's not his book. So who cares? So I asked her, I said, Listen, give me this book that you have, you know, and I'm thinking like, Oh, these Muslims are, you know, bowing down to the moon and stars and doing all these wacky things. I said, Let me read this book. And then I'm going to take the verses from your Quran, and then I'm going to be like a lawyer and flip them against you, and show you why this makes no sense and that you should become Christian. Well, I started reading and all of the questions that I had, that my pastors could never answer, were being answered right away in the Quran. And I was like, Well, wait
a second. This is better than I thought I was locked with. I was like, wait a minute, you know, Adam, and Adam and Allah, you know, I was like,
No, these are our people. How do you know who's telling you guys? This is our secret. Where do you get our people from? Like, what is all the you know, in all the prophets were there and everything. And I was like, okay, so maybe this isn't as kooky as I thought it was. Let me just keep going. So as I start reading, every day, I want to read the Quran more and more. And pretty soon I was just, Everywhere I go, I'm reading I'm carrying with me my backpack. I'm like, just every chance I get I want to get through this book. And for me, it was a little bit odd, because I was so Christian. So I think the biggest thing for reverts is letting go of the ego. And it's really difficult for a lot of
people to admit like, hey, all these things that I was believing my whole entire life, everything that my whole family believes all of this, maybe it's not right. So I think a lot of people, they can't admit that they're wrong, or that what they believed in is not the truth. So it was really like denying everything you've ever known. It's like being in the matrix, and waking up. Yeah, I can imagine. Yeah, definitely. So I started reading this book and all the time. After I would close it. I would start to think about Morocco.
Morocco. Have you been there before? Never know. I was like, I know it's a North Africa somewhere. But I don't know exactly where Moroccans? No, no, and it was like,
to your mind, I Allah, every time someone Allah, it was like, it started off as like a whisper. And then it became more and more clear and clear. And it was to the point where I was like, Okay, I'll go to Morocco. Like, there's obviously something calling me there. Like, I feel like I mean, it was spiritual before. So I was like, Okay, I feel like God's giving me a message. Okay, read this book. And then he's putting all these things in place, and you know, everything like this. And so, it was, I don't even remember. It was like September, I think it was September. And I said, That's it, I have to leave here. Because the way it felt for me was that my situation like my surroundings, were
changing me. And I said, Well, if your surroundings are gonna change you, then you have no choice but to change your surroundings. And I wanted to kind of really, like dive into Islam full on and good luck telling your friends that, you know, okay, guys, I know we were just like in the club last night, but I'm gonna start wearing Hijab now and like, Don't talk to me or asked me to go out because I'm really focused on my Deen. Like, it doesn't work like that. So I had to physically remove myself from that so that I could get away and really like just be with myself and a lot of your family things. I mean, well, so I thought you were crazy to go into la
Yeah, definitely insane. Yeah, pretty much. So I called my mom and I said, Mom, guess what, so I'm gonna move away from LA. She's like, oh, finally you're coming home. And I was like, nope. worse. I'm moving to Africa by myself in three months. And she's like, oh, my goodness, Jamie, nothing you do surprises me anymore. So she's like,
what can I say, you know, she said, there's nothing I can do to stop you. So whatever. But I didn't tell my family about Islam. Here's why I wanted to be around them. Because I, of course, went home and said goodbye before I made my big israa.
And I wanted them to see that I'm still that same daughter that they knew and loved. And I'm still that same friend and I'm still that same sister and I'm still the goofball. And I'm still me. But I just I'm working on a few things. We have some renovation taking place inside. So I moved to Morocco alone and didn't speak the language didn't know anything about the culture. No French anything. No, no, no French no Arabic. Wow. Yeah, showed up.
This is really funny.
Hilarious. Yeah. An idiot with a suitcase like okay, I'm here. Yeah, pretty much so. And how was the reception? Were they like, welcome beyond that. And, you know, the thing with me is that
I landed, I will I did a little tour before I went to Morocco. I spent some time in Dublin some time in London. And then that was like the last hurrah, because I knew that my Shahada was coming up soon. So I was like, okay, we're preparing. Let me just get everything out of my system, you know, and
I landed in the airport and Agha dear Morocco. And
that's like, perfect timing to what you're talking about. Yeah, that's what it must have felt like when you land. Yeah, pretty much pretty much like and we're descending upon the land of the movement along. Yeah. So I got up.
I was on CBC Radio once. And the guy was like, so obsessed. He's like, remove your coats. We don't want the cars to be rubbing against the seats. For radio purposes. Right? Like, okay, everything is silent. Brother, as soon as he starts to talk full on.
So we'll file this under a loss of perfect timing. Yeah, that was a message that was being sent to all of us. In case you're listening. You haven't prayed yet? Please.
Reminder, thank you very much.
Put this on pause and go back to the podcast was much more flexible. Yeah.
Yeah. So yeah, I landed in the airport in a dear. It was December 15 2010. And I walked from the aircraft straight into the bathroom. And I took a scarf out of my backpack. sloppily put it all over my head didn't know how to pin it just tied it on and said
okay, Bismillah knew life starts now. Should Bismillah while you're not in the bathroom, in the bathroom, no. And I said, Okay, it's time. This is the news. This is it. The new chapter begins now. And so I have to do that. I've never struggled with hijab. I've had it on ever since that moment in the airport. And it's never been a source of, you know, distress for me or like, oh, should I shouldn't die. And from there, that's kind of where my second life really began. And so I was fortunate enough to move in with a Moroccan family. And they were absolutely wonderful, but adopted you pretty much. Yeah. And they, they were so kind to me.
They gave me my own bedroom in the house and made everything super excited. They bought a bed and they wanted to make it so nice for me. And so they allowed me to live with them for about three months, and I chose to move out at that point. I was getting followed by the police a lot because I thought I was a journalist working for the Obama administration. And I laughed, and I said, Well, if that's the case, you tell him to pay me because
he's gonna teach us something. Yeah, well, cuz I always had a backpack with me. And generally, I had, like a DSLR and a lap and a MacBook, you know? So they're like, Oh, this doesn't seem right. So you know, I remember that they there was a guy who followed me out of the mosque one time on a Friday. And he's like, what are you doing in the mosque? Like, I'm praying, what are you doing in the mosque? Maybe you should be praying instead of worried about what I'm doing, you know, women in the woman said,
Yes, so I started to get followed a lot. And I didn't really want to bring any stress onto the family because they were wondering, like, why is there an American here? This is not a tourist area. Like what is she doing deep in the hood? Like, who was the connection? Like, she's not married? Like, what is she doing? It wasn't the place where tourists or no, so I definitely stuck out me and I'm white. So they're like, oh, wait a minute, you know, so I moved from Agha deer proper to a town called
Rare, which is about maybe 15 minutes by car. And I moved into this apartment on the side of a mountain with maybe like 10 other homes. And at that point I had started to learn a little bit of the Moroccan Arabic. So I'm thinking like, Okay, I'm done, I finally I can communicate like I can get, I can take a taxi and go to the grocery store, like the basics I have covered, slowly move into this village. And first of all, the neighbors are like, Okay, what is this? We have this like random American check, fully hijab doubt, she's surfing and like dragging this big huge surfboard to the beach every morning. And she's got people coming in and out of the house because I was hosting other
travelers that were, you know, just looking for some kind of common ground. Because usually they don't speak Arabic or you know, French, so they can't I mean, they're really nice, but there's been very strange for them. Very strange, cuz, you know, Moroccan women, they don't live alone, right? You know, it's unsafe, unsafe, everything's bad's gonna happen. And here I am, like, Dude to do got the keys to my new place, you know, and I'm just coming and going. They were having the cultural clash. It wasn't, you know, but they were amazing. They were like, they loved me. They treated me they looked out for me for sure. Yeah, they're hearts of gold, for sure. And so, you know, they were
trying to teach me their language because they spoke a completely different language. What do you like butterbur? People? Yes. Oh, yeah. So they're speaking to the heat. Okay. And so I'm like, I finally think I have the language down. And now I have to start from scratch, like someone coming to the United States, learning English, broken and terrible English, and then deciding, you know what, I'm going to move to an Indian Reservation. And then you have to speak that language, you know, and so I knew nothing. And I'm like, Oh, you know, my apartment. did not have hot water. It didn't have I didn't have a refrigerator. I didn't have a stove. I literally had a gas can like a single burner
like camping gas can and I had to like cook everything on there. And there was a shower down by the beach. So I would generally like pay the money to go go to shower. I could shower in my own place, but it was ice cold. No wall hot water. Yeah. So I mean,
I was heating up Yeah, heating up water and a tea kettle for it to get into a big bucket adding cold water and then trying to like quick shower. And like that's it. You know, my family's from Ethiopia. And to this day, that's how people shower. Yeah, in that part of the world. It's very like not like when we come there, like, oh, we're gonna get the hot water or anything like that. Yeah, they just shower with cold water sometimes. Yeah, yes, it's a luxury. But I mean, it's nice that you got to see that side. Yeah, reality because in North America, we definitely never experienced that always the water. Oh,
right. You're right. So yeah, yeah, that was one of the culture shocks that I had. And so by this point, sorry, just interrupt. So you already have taken Shahada. Yeah. Okay, so I was almost almost gone by the time I got there. So like I said, December 15. I land by December 31. This is when I took my Shahada. Okay, so I had like two weeks, I said, Listen, I'm not saying anything until I finished 114. Because what if there is something at the end was a plot and I'm like, Hey, wait a second. I don't want this. But now I've already said my Shahada. And I knew what a big deal it was. It wasn't something that you just said, I want to change your mind. Or your Muslim friend told you
anything. The guys that you met in Hollywood, had he given you any, like, insight or Oh, called you to say not say, okay, so Oh, yeah, hold on the plane. Yeah. So the, the family that I had lived with in Morocco, I met their son on a website called couchsurfing, which is basically it was Airbnb before Airbnb. Exactly, but it was free. And so you didn't pay and I said, Listen, you know, I'm looking to travel. You guys don't have Craigslist, like, I'm trying to find an apartment, like, I don't know what to do. You know, can I? What? What's your situation? How can I How can I have a place to stay until I find a place to stay? And so we began exchanging emails back and forth.
talking, talking, talking, I said, Listen, you know, I talked it over with my parents. And they are completely open to the idea of you coming and just staying here basically, as long as you need to. And I was like, okay, Moroccan hospitality. Take one. There you go. So, you know, I wasn't done with the Koran, and I but I knew that it was time. And I said, you know, I'm going to, I'm going to do this in a Muslim country. And so he called me on the phone One day, he had to go put credit on his phone and do long distance and everything. So he calls me said, Listen,
I want you to say the Shahada with me over the phone right now, because God forbid, what if your plane crashes on the way here and you die before you get to say it? And so I said, Okay, he's like, Listen, this is you know, between you and Allah, this is kind of like the pregame it still counts, but we'll do it for real like in a Masjid when you come here, inshallah, he said, but I would never forgive myself if you passed away unexpectedly, and you never got the chance to say those words. Yeah, so inshallah he gets the hasnat for that. So. So I sent it over the phone and he's like, okay, you're clear. Now just hurry up and get here and then we'll get you in the mosque when it's time.
Right. So that was December 31 2010. And I was in Casa Blanca in the Santana mosque. The biggest
One on the coast and
kind of the opposite of the way that I wanted it to go. Okay, I was in the back area. And there's an Imam who's there that who's very well loved by the rock and people His name is Omar because every Okay, and so is world renowned. Oh, yeah, she she got like the two days like the the guy
Morocco has made I'm not familiar with him, but I know like, in terms of
is the most known recited in Morocco. Wow.
Yes. So I'm there and I don't I'm, I'm nervous as it is. And they said, okay, you know, we need your name. We're gonna film it. I said, Whoa, whoa, whoa, I don't want a camera in my face. Like, I'm already going to be nervous enough like, please. No, let's just make this a very relaxed thing. Well, I had never seen the inside of that mask. So it is like, like,
a wall with that magnitude of closer. There's no muscles in what like once once you're inside, it's just breathtaking. I think it's like the second largest. Yes.
So if I'm going to do it, I'm going back right? I say go bigger. Go home. That's right. And I didn't want to go home. So I'm like, you know, to get going because the only option Yeah, so I'm like, behind the stage area, and there's a little door and they prep me and they say Okay, listen, basically what's gonna happen is, is they're gonna open the door, and then you're gonna kind of step just right there. And he's gonna be with you with a microphone and he's gonna say that you're going to repeat after him and this and that. Okay. So the time comes, you know, I'm like, nervous the time comes, the door opens. Of course, there is like a, you know, news style gigantic camera in my face
with the light shining, I can't, I can't see anything I'm trying, you know. So I'm like, a little bit. So he slides over. And I look and I see this sea of like, 50,000 men that are like,
the whole country was there. Yeah. So then he comes over, and he says it and you know, I'm like,
like this shaking like a leaf. And then after I'm done, I have never heard a more up rauris Allahu Akbar. Wow. And they just were like, ah, like, I mean, you're just No, it was just it was so like, you know, sometimes if you go to a pack mustard, and you get the amin, yeah. And you're just like, you know, the sound. Now imagine the sound in this mosque with all of these people, and they're just so excited that
everything so it was just like, Whoa, like, the sound bubble just took me away. And I was like, Okay, and now, you know, I was like, why is everybody so excited? Like, who cares? It's not their life, you know? Like, I get it, they're happy. But like, why are they this happy? And also upon a lot whenever I see someone take Shahada in the masjid. I just start crying like a baby like,
you know, so now I get it. Like, as a Muslim, when you see somebody, you're just like,
you have no idea what's happening right now. Like you don't know until you can, like reflect back on it. So that was like my, my journey to finding Islam. And how long did you stay in Morocco for five years? Five years? Yeah. So I just really dedicated my time to learning and I stayed with another family who was incredibly influential. I, I learned so much from so many different people. And, you know, I learned the importance of really been cautious of your sources. And so I spent so much time just researching and studying and YouTube videos and just downloading the 7 trillion gigabyte, you know, siab allottee on my computer, and just going through it every day, and just spending
a good solid three years just doing nothing. Sam told me your Moroccan Arabic is phenomenal. I'm better than him. Yeah, I, Morocco was not going to learn English because Jamie brown decided to move there. So I said, You know, I have to go and learn this language. Some people say, Well, where do you learn it? Because there's no books on it. You're not taking a class, you know, a distinctive style of air, right? And so I said, you know, my teacher is the streets, I would just ask people, like, you know, what's this time? No, not time. What's this thing called Madonna? You know, so then I, I would This is when I still had a Blackberry. So I would write down all these words in my
Blackberry. And then every night before I would go to sleep, I would just scan through and read them and try to memorize as many as I could. So I learned it in the worst way possible, because I'm taking an English sentence, and I'm just plugging the words in where they go. But that's not how it works. Yeah. So, you know, I got to learn
like a child basically, but then people would start to correct me and say, okay, no, we sit like this, not like this. Okay, so I'm De La Rochelle. A very, very interesting story. This seems like a movie in itself. I've heard that several times. I used to have a blog.
Okay, which will remain nameless, but I used to have a blog about living in Morocco. And everyone that read it was like, This is pure insanity. No one would believe the stories that you have from living there. No, like, this is not as you can't make this stuff up. So. So now your obviously your background is in is in, in TV and film in Hollywood. When you come back now to the US, do you see any transferable skills? This is something that you say, Okay, well, now I have a slam. Now I'm kind of more conscious of who I am identity. Is this something that you consciously say? Well, you know, I'd like to work back in Hollywood, or do you think it's not feasible or possible? Like, what is
your approach to that world that you came from? Um, you know, unless you're living in Hollywood, there's not really a huge market for the production side of things. Yeah, sure, there's things filmed here and there in Chicago, but generally, they'll bring in their own crew.
I don't miss the long hours on set. So for me, I'm pretty much just doing my own art instead of that. And I also do graphic design and website design, I have a T shirt company, reusable straw companies, I'm pretty busy. So I don't miss it. In that sense. I don't miss being under the control of somebody else's schedule. I like that I can work for myself when I feel like it. And
you know, I think events like this are excellent to network because even like you said, yourself, you're into film and production. So you know, there's always opportunities and you know, Kareem has so many different things on his plate all the time. He's got so many offers to do things with, you know, from corporations to, you know, private events to festivals like this.
There's always you find your way in, there's always a way to get that production side of things still going. So I'll we'll wrap up very soon, when asked me both for a piece of advice, a lot of people that are listening. I have a lot of artists, young artists, sometimes that approached me that are interested in getting into art, some are not willing to, like I said invest themselves fully. You two are good examples of people who kind of fully immerse yourself whether it be within Islam, whether it be within your art, you know, really taking that leap of faith having that to Oakland Eliza Jen, what would you say for the artists for the
you can see the person who's part time pursuing their passion? What what what advice would you offer to those people to fully immerse themselves in whatever passion they have? What would you say to that person?
you can talk to them as much as you want, but it's the world inside of them. It's how much they want to how hungry they are, and thirsty they are to achieve their goals. So I think the most important thing is that,
to have faith in Allah, to trust him. The second thing is that to take the proper decisions, and sometimes proper decisions, they need a lot of courage. So if you are, you don't have the courage to take them. I mean, that's gonna be a huge obstacle towards you achieving what you want to do. The third thing is that to be unique.
Try to be very, very, very, like kind of like
looking and digging for a niche that you can excel at. Perfect skills that nobody else around you
can can do perfect skills that make people you know, interested in your work calling you why because they find your work interesting.
We like what are we doing recently? Have you ever heard of like a street artists Muslim? Do Do you know, everybody's like we weren't Halifax painting with 14 or 22 or whatever. 1414 other artists come from all around the world. When the TV new when the CBC came and all in other news.
Guess what? What was the cover photo? I forget everyone else let's focus on this. Yeah, we're looking mix. Yeah, that's it. That's the cover for their for their article. Sure. This Muslim girl and this Muslim guy painting together doing street art, you know? So basically, all the time looking for things like this.
You know, don't be afraid to kind of like to move. I was in Montreal and I said that Montreal. I'm not growing up artistically. I felt that Montreal is a dead city for what I'm doing. So I said Santa Monica. That's what I said before me. That's what narcy
is and then he moved to Dubai. And after ended up coming back. I was like, Listen, I'll see move nasi move. Like what am I doing here? What's wrong? So move to Tunisia. I was close to the region like in the Middle East and whatever. So like, traveling was easier. Everything was cheap. So I had the ability to kind of like to higher up
Other people to work with me, I ended up hiring this engineer who developed my software that I use all around the world now for my performances, you know, things like that somehow, like some decisions like that, you know, and people like would like to live like in a comfortable in their comfort zone, and then expect change to happen is very hard. You know, it's extremely hard, just like,
you have to extract yourself from your past. I think that that comfort zone thing is very important. I think a lot of us we live in a consistent bubble of just comfort. And of course, how did we get there, we had to, you know, done something different to get into that comfort zone to begin with. But then once you're in it, it's like, you don't want to leave. Mm hmm. And same can be said about, you know, even unhealthy, unhealthy relationships or the people you're around or friends. You know, sometimes we just get into a habit or mode, and we're free to break out of it. Right. And of course, you are a good example of that. Imagine living a very comfortable life in Beverly Hills, driving a
Jaguar convertible around well, man, everything you want at your fingertips, money, anything you need, you got it and saying, You know what?
I'm gonna give up all of this and go move alone to a third world country with only one suitcase and not see my family for two years. She recently took me just to back up what she says she recently took me to LA so when on a trip to LA, we rented a convertible car. She said, if you want to go to try LA, it's going to be in a convertible. Oh, yeah. And she basically drove me all around for five days all around LA, Beverly Hills, whatever name is like Hollywood. And she kind of like showed me like her past life.
Oh, it's a fitness brother.
Just unknown. Like, like, I was like, This is what people are looking for. This is the dream of everyone else. And then you're acting like those like salmon, like swimming against the current just going on the other direction when everyone wants to be there, you know? So somehow it was for me it kind of like now understand the courage. That's what I'm saying? Like, how brave are you to take a serious decision that's going to change your life? That's the question is does the I want to be successful? Yeah. If you want to be successful, man, just, I don't know. Keep thinking about that at your desk.
Like, so. Some people are comfortable working their entire life. But yeah, some people work at Walmart for 35 years. And they're comfortable with it.
But if you feel that you have as a young artist will I've seen like, the two brothers for Mr. Kip. Yeah. Right. And then I met their mom, like, Subhanallah look at these young young boys. They're like, they're so passionate, they love what they're doing and whatever. But if
they don't make enough money, or this is not gonna work for them, they end up you know, it's choosing another path or like doing another job or like maybe like, I don't know. So basically, they have to believe in what they're doing. And then there's another advice is extremely important. Is this is this what you're doing now? You're you're doing your own films. Yeah. Triangle trying to you you're trying to find like to expand what you're doing. Like, I'm an artist, I do street art. I do. I do, like Korean calligraphy. Having a clothing line. Having some goodies, selling art, working on installations. Yeah, you know, all of these things, you know, you have to kind of like, your hands
and your hands in different in different places, you know, and then if you feel like something works better for you, and then it's like, it needs you to be more focused on one of these, like, things that you do, then go for it, you know, and it's like, it's it's very complex as well. It depends on people and then what they want to do, but Alhamdulillah it's the biggest blessing. And you know, to be able to, like, do what you do for a living. Yeah, you know, I just I just wrapped up a film. And, like, you can I mean, you've been on many productions, you understand, like, especially on a low budget production, feeling where I'm, I'm the caterer, I'm the stylist I'm I'm the boom operator.
I'm a little bit everything. Yeah. And the entire, like, over almost three weeks, you know, very little sleep, you don't eat well. Yeah. And I come home every day completely exhausted. And my wife is looking at me like oh my God, why are you doing this to you? Yes. You know, and I just I wish he understood like, you never like this is what I love. Mm hmm. Like this is with without this Yeah, it would be a mess. Yes. You know, like I literally throughout the entire year I plan I plot I'm like waiting. Alright, let's do it. I have another idea. Let's put it into production. That's and I wait for those times of the year and I like I just to me, it's it's so it's empowering to feel like I'm
also in control of my
Destiny, I see things happening on set I can control I'm involved otherwise, you know, you work in a corporation and it's like, well, the memo came out. boss says we got to do this. You know, that's a very sad life. I feel. Some people love it. They do. Some people are completely
because we need people like that was crazy. Like, I think we get done exactly right. So if they're happy in their cubicle Alhamdulillah Mashallah. Enjoy your paycheck, your weekly salary, everything is perfect. Yeah. For us. That's not gonna fly. So Well, I think we become addicted to the uncertain, uncertain and
because there's something about that, and I actually know what you mean, like that, that drive? And especially I have children. I have two kids. I told myself like, there's no way I'm gonna allow this to happen. Like, I'm not gonna allow my kids to go hungry. Like, are you kidding me? Like, I go into crazy mode. My wife calls it crazy mode. Yeah, I was just like, I spend all night I'll sell research, come up with ideas. I'll make a few phone calls few emails. Right. But without that pressure, I wouldn't have done that. Right. And if she thinks that's crazy mode, take that away from you. And then we'll see how crazy you get. Yeah, that's the thing. I'm not pursuing my passion, or
you know, things are slow. You know how it is?
Oh, you go. It's sad. Yeah, you start thinking about things. And this affects your mood, and then your wife doesn't know what was happening to you. Because she doesn't understand what's inside your mind. And they're like, why you're like moody and whatever. And you think that about 1000 days? Yeah, you know, all these like bills and things and, you know, ideas, projects. Yeah.
So if people now before we get to that, I want to get to a piece of advice you have for people similarly, similar to the advice he gave around following a dream or passion. I mean, you are getting this whisper in your ear to Morocco. Yeah. A lot of people get this whisper in their ear that tells them you know, do this, go here. Try this. But they really don't take that leap. Yeah, you know, what would you say to those people who are still on the whether it's working the same job, whether it's in a bad relationship, whether it's maybe around people they shouldn't be or whatever? What would you say to advise them to really take that leap of faith?
Ah, first and foremost, you have to ask a law First of all, and say, you know, like, I mean, Allah knows, he knows what you want. He knows what you're capable of. He knows how much you can handle in all these things.
But after that, you need to trust in yourself and don't say something like, Oh, I want to be an artist. I wish I could be an artist. No, say to yourself, I'm an artist. I might not be the best one right now. But I'm gonna work my skills out until I polish them and then inshallah you just keep advancing up and you need to convince yourself because if you think that you're not something you That's true. I keep telling myself I'm a supermodel. Nobody takes me
to say it.
You know what? Start putting that on your resume. There you go. supermodel. So listen, if you guys need like modeling fashion, like I'm here plus size that might
you know what, we can do a Muslim fashion show next year, you never know. 2020 I'm putting it out there. If anyone's watching, looking for a little, little, I'm not that chubby, but you know, I'm be like,
you know, I send you my measurements and see if I work for your life.
What's the use, I can
use it is putting all of us to shame. Like, he came in crispy.
And he slept like I was just pajamas. That's the scary part that he wakes up like that. I toured with him once and I'm like, Really? I brought you a month you make me look back. What's going on, man? Don't do this to me. You know, just stand beside him. Like, he just shows up as a fresh trip. Like, okay, why are you doing this?
So maybe you could get together with him see creative, inspired, creative. So you go next year fashion show. 2020 make that part of the schedule. Just gotta tell yourself, what familiar you have to just believe it. You have to say, okay, you know, I'm doing it. That's it. I'm doing it. Like if you don't like it, okay, well, whatever. I'm still doing it. And especially like when I moved I said, I'm, I'm going there. I want to be Muslim and I'm now I Muslim. But what if you're wrong? That's the thing people ask. And I'm just asking this hypothetical. What's the worst case scenario? What if you are wrong? What if the voice in Morocco tells you to go there and you go there, you
know, like, that's what people might think. Right? That's the thing that scares them. What would you say to the person who just has that? I would say this. I would rather dive headfirst into a possibility and fail than stand ankle deep in the shallow end saying what if
By the door, let that sink in.
Yeah, I mean, really, you just have to, you just have to believe it and trust yourself. And if you if you believe that you can do something, then then go for it and do it and work on it. And it might not happen in three weeks, you might need to spend time, okay, listen, but let's say someone wants to be an artist, oh, I want to be a painter, okay? You're not going to be a painter tomorrow. But maybe you can start working on something small, like, Okay, I'm going to save up a little bit of money. To try to buy a three pack of canvases. I'm going to buy some paint and some brushes. And then I'm going to take that work on it, see how it is get some reactions from your friends and
family. If they're hating on you even better, keep going. And just keep progressing like that. And it's, it's like a rock and a stream. You throw a rock in there, it's going to be sharpened Jagat, it's not going to turn into a diamond. But the longer you keep working at it, you're gonna eventually polish that rock until it's smooth. And that's what you have to do. And solver solver is the key. You have to be patient, but you also have to be confident if you really believe that you have a talent and you can take it somewhere you absolutely well just close your eyes and tell yourself that it already happened. And that's the teacher, you know.
Listen, we drop in a very, very unique collection of clothing. And the brand is just just for you, like nobody else knows. It's called the singing to the mix. Everyone knows now but yeah, oh
my, by the time this is released already, by the time the video is released, okay? So the clothing line is going to be called the two oceans. Okay? Okay, first of all the two oceans is the place where we met which is behind but I'm talking about the two ocean is that is inspired by sort of the gaff and then much more behind it's the place where I think it's like this perfect combination and harmony between the knowledge that you acquire in this dunya and then the knowledge that you acquire from Allah, Allah you know, saying so and this this perfect combination is the one that's going to help you like serve in this dunya be like smoothly like avoiding obstacles and whatever. And this is
going to be this is the theme you know, behind the name and everything. And it's going to be like some unique pieces where like, some part of the clothing will be like handmade like I'll paint canvases and then use parts of the canvases in the clothing. Wow, you know, it's amazing I'm actually a supermodel and I've been putting this out there and yeah, so I'm telling you because everyone knows now you're looking for models
I'm your guy so I because it's a fact now
it's like it's like it's gonna be something different like something really unique
kind of so calligraphy almost like a street urban inspired type of thing or Yeah, that's the beauty of being an artist it doesn't have to be limited so if we start off with street designs and it's something that we both love cool we'll keep expanding on that if we want to switch to like a you know more classical Arabic style we can do that too. Like that's the beauty of having an art yeah and like he said just keep finding other areas to be creative. Yeah. Unlimited. We I already have the experience with that like I released several like limited edition like clothing pieces in in the past years and then it works so good Mashallah amazing like most of them all the time sold out. So
now we're doing something official and that's
where can people find out more about your work at all you care in Dubai? That means your body calm? Yes. And you're on Instagram as well. Instagram Kareem kr I am and underscore job JB, okay. And yourself sister. Where can they find? Well, it's funny so my name is Jamie. As we know, my Instagram name is Jamie not Jamie. I'm using it all pletely reasonable. So my first name is spelled j i m e which is not traditional. But everyone spells it j m e. Oh, so my Instagram name is Jay Why me not JM IE not confusing not
you know what? How about this the listeners if you go to the Muslim Fest, Instagram you can find my picture in there. Yeah, I think it was the best they got themselves like a host next year.
Isn't who Jamie Oh, I can be an MC Yeah, I could rock the mic. Listen, they didn't even know you could do what he did. I forced them to bring you see I was what I was telling you use of is the an amazing MC. I knew that they didn't know literally on recommendation. You know, and so if you tell them hey,
we tell you because you're the
like a Life Achievement Award.
What scares me is that you give someone a Lifetime Achievement I feel like I'm about to die. I'm like, No, no, you can just kick back and relax.
Lifetime Achievement like
can I still be here? Can I hang around at least? You know, I did receive an award from from Muslim friends I was very thankful for it and they kind of told me Okay, stick around after your performance there's an award and I was like, what's the award? I was like it's the best dressed like definitely not
they are well if it's not that then I don't know if I want to stick around and they're like, No, no, I just run anyways. And they gave it to me and I was very I was
but it was it was great meeting both of you for the first time officially. It's like a lot in my recollection, I think we we have crossed paths but in the past, unfortunately, it is remembered as well and greeting us as well for the first time inshallah. If people want to find out more about them, you can, you know, check out the social media accounts they mentioned, as well follow them support their work and follow on the clothing line comes out and make sure you buy a few pieces and for your friends and family as well. And Zach and Landon for both of our time. I do appreciate it and thank you for everyone watching inshallah you've been tuned in. Hopefully we'll see you again