Channel: Boonaa Mohammed
Series: Boonaa Mohammed - What the Fiqh
Ft. Alakkuu & Swizzysworld
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Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh Welcome back to what the fic
I'm your host Boehner Mohammed and I'm joined with two very special guests. I flew them in on my personal dime all the way to Canada to my basement actually Mashallah. They're they're both staying here. They're making Nike sneakers for me.
But two brothers who are very talented, and I want to talk to both of you about your journeys, and about your your skill set. But before I do that, I'll introduce both of you. We have my brother swizzy here, who's a fantastic photographer, What's your idea? People can check out your Swiss he's world, Swiss, he's world so just x was his role if you're on it. And we have my brother EDS, who also goes by the very interesting stage name of Alec who I was
Even a real name.
And that, you know, that's an interesting name. Because initially when I told you the story, but initially when i when i read your name, I'm like, Mashallah, who's this? Brother from Rwanda?
That's like a real African a, right? Yes. And I was like, I get that a lot. I get that a lot from wherever you that name sounds like it's from somewhere else, just for the white people. They're like, Where are you from? It's really ethnic. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Where are you from? Yeah. And you pronounce it? Allahu Allah, Allah. Okay, but it means nothing. Honestly, honestly, honestly, it started off like that. And it's funny because like, when I tell you the story, they're like, wow, like, okay, like it derived from nothing. So
when I was a toddler, my grandmother alone is that she used to ask people to tell, she said, Tell me to tell people what my name was. And so we had visitors come over to the house, and then she'd be like, Yes, come here. Tell them what your name is. And I was like, three or four. And I couldn't say my name. And yes, right. So I'd be like, Allahu Allahu. And so she found it hilarious. Like, she was like, that is hilarious, right? And then she started to call me a lack was a pet name. And then like, it was really like a form of endearment. Like, Hey, I like that name, but you call for yourself. So I'm going to start calling it and then she loves Somali poetry, right? So she would use
Somali poetry and put that infuse that into the name of aku. And then whenever she'd want to call on me, she'd be like, Allah who come here. And then just like a liner to have Somali poetry within the name of La cool. She dropped bars. Oh, yeah, bars, which
is nice. Yeah, so that's where I got it from, and then it kind of just, you know, split into that. And then when I started doing poetry, like 18
You know, my sisters were like, Oh, my God, he needs to, you know, just honor her and, you know, take all of your work, and publicly just use the name alac, who just like as a form of, like, honor for her. So all the work that I do poetry wise, literally is just an honor of her because she gave me that name. So I like who and you spell it a How do you even decide how to spell a fake name? That's what I want. Yeah. So you know, you know, it's crazy, like, oh my god. So initially, it used to be spelled a la, KU, you right? Okay. And then like, one time, I just got tired of social media. I deleted everything. And then I try to get it back on Instagram, like years ago. And then the name
was take someone took that name. Someone took it someone like South Korea took it. There's a South Korean Yeah. Yeah. And I was like old content. Yeah.
I had another K in there. Okay. Yeah. So a la KK you you Okay, so yeah, very interesting name. I had no idea what it meant. And I had a I figured it was initially I'll be honest with you. So who put me on to was Ahmad, our mutual friend Armando? shoukry. Mashallah. Shout out to Mr. So he put me on to you. And then both of us I was like, okay, where's this brother from? Right? And he's like, he's like, for real? I don't know.
Right? Because even on your Igy like, he didn't really have many likes of just you. Yeah. Right. It was always like, very, like, the thoughts. My thoughts in the wind. Oh, he's been dropping bars. You know, he knows his audience. Yeah, he knows he knows what he's after. Right. And, and then when I saw your pick, I'm like, Oh, my Bangladeshi brothers.
Brothers out there doing this thing. Right. Because I take it I'll tell you, right, because I didn't I have no idea where you were actually I thought at first maybe you were Ethiopian? I said maybe that's Ethiopia. I get that a lot though. Because yes, is a Philippine name. Yes. alack alack. Ooh, wow. Because just because you don't really have EDS under your name, right. So I just saw like, who and I'm like, Okay, what is that? I thought I thought maybe you were from Ethiopia. So it was very interesting. Eventually we tracked on you just regular
all that going around the world. Just a regular old someone in the funnier part was then he told me Okay, he's from D.
See, you know, he's out there. He's doing his thing and then I and then I find out this dude's from from Toronto.
And not even just from a rig. He's from the hood. He's from Black.
Black, nothing exotic whatsoever. Okay, Black Creek. Nothing exotic about
him just building. Yeah, right. Where are you from? Where are you from me. I'm from Adam.
Where are you from?
Toronto. Oh, we're in Toronto where I'm from. Okay, so in Toronto. I'm from Sinclair in Oakland area. Okay. Okay, shout out. Sinclair we have a brother who represents
a gang thing, right.
So I'm from St. Clair and Oakwood area, that's where I grew up my entire life. So it's a for those outside of Toronto. It's kind of it's not really downtown. It's more uptown. It's like more North York, but it's kind of in the middle. But then I moved to the west end. So my parents now live in like Jane and Wilson area. So by like todich Masjid, if you know the vicinity right. And then I moved to Scarborough when I got a bit older.
And then on my own I ended up moving to Pickering. So now I live in Pickering. So I literally have like, pretty much traveled the entire GTA so but I don't really wrap like you know, I just read Toronto a lot but it's like even then I don't really I don't really read anything per se now so I'm gonna pick is all by Pickering gang. And you're the first colored people to visit
we have a color quote.
That's very nice. I noticed it I noticed that.
Yeah, I made sure the security check you in on the way and I said you know, these people are with me. It's fine. You know. Call it the gate. Exactly.
Yeah, it's fine. It's fine buzzing through. But so both of you brothers, you know, I'm really interested because your actual brothers. Yeah, even though you look nothing alike. Yeah. People either say we look a lot alike or we look nothing alike. It's but it's usually white folks that think we look
it's usually police. Yes, absolutely. Yeah, those guys. Yeah, cuz you don't look anything alike. Yeah. Like when you told me he was your brother. I was like, Oh, okay. One of those one of those. January 1 brother. Hey, I got you. Yeah, right. Trying to hold them down. Yeah. Would you bro I'm with you. Right. But but you actually actually brothers. Yeah. Brothers. Right. And, and so that, but the age difference is what you're about two and a half, two and a half, two and a half years old. Okay. But what I find interesting is that you're both artists in your own right. Right. So you both have art in different capacities. And, and I was really impressed by you know, even your skill
set, like as a photographer, like your work is really dope. Mashallah. Right. And we don't find a lot of now I think it's becoming more popularized photography, especially with Instagram, and different mediums like that, that have allowed, you know, photography to become more showcased.
But I think out of all the platforms, like without Instagram photography was was not as you know, there wasn't as much exposure, right, specifically for Muslim photographers, do you find that to be the case? Absolutely. I think before Instagram, it was very difficult to share any kind of content pertaining to like visual content, especially right, you would still have Twitter, and Twitter was starting to catch the realm a little bit. But up until Instagram came, there was no real go to place for like content creation for photographers, honestly. And I think when Instagram came out, I think it actually helped people, like hone more of their skills. You know what I mean? So like, if it
wasn't for Instagram, I don't think a lot of these people would have even known that there are photographers that look like them that are succeeding in this room. They might not have tried it, you know what I mean? So I think but I think also, the funny thing is that as a photographer, I may not know you're a person of color, because you're behind the lens. Right? Right, right behind the camera. But I feel like nowadays, you can't only be just a photographer, or just a poet, or just, it's like, you need to have your own brand. So like, that's what I'm trying to tell like a lot of the youth that you know, kind of asked for some kind of insight, like your brand means so much more
now, right? Because there's different, like brands that are willing to work with people that they know, like, if you are constantly utilizing different functionalities, like story functionality, for instance, not pulling and asking questions and stuff like that these things are so vital nowadays. Because if all they see is the final product, but they don't know the person behind it, if they don't know that the person behind it might be a colored person, then they might not be willing to, you know, work with you. All right. And you put me on to some game because you you told me that like you've worked with a lot of big brands as well. Yeah, right. And I think many people might not know
this, but like as a professional Muslim salon photographer, like how do you get into that door? How do you actually you know, start working with brands, how do you start working with people that take you seriously as an artist? Honestly,
content is king, man, you know, like the work speaks for itself a lot of times. So I think the number one thing is for people to worry about creating amazing content and like, just making sure that you're the best at whatever
It is that you do within your own standards like don't judge yourself upon other things. Don't worry about trendy stuff. But like, once you really truly feel like your work is is of quality, and most people will come but networking is key, bro. Like, if you're not shooting shots, if you're not sending DMS, if you're not willing to go to networking events to meet up with people and stuff like that, you're not going to get anywhere because nobody wants somebody that already feels like they're too good to do things. Networking is key, bro. And so you're like, you know, your Instagram game is crazy. Like you You do? Like, I never did a poll before you talking about polls right now. I never
I've never actually sent out a poll you really come on? Don't I don't know. Like, I don't even know what I would do a poll about Yeah. Oh, should I wear this? Or should I wear that or not necessarily that like my fat, my skinny? You know, you could you could pull people about, like, how many videos that they want a year from you? You don't
wanna hear that? Yeah, I mean, cuz cuz you know the answer. They'll say 100. Good luck with that. Yeah. Don't don't hold your breath. But yeah, the and the more functions that you use within the Instagram platform, the better that your like your engagement will be as well, because Instagrams gonna see you as like, somewhat of a super user. Yeah. And they reward you for using different functionalities as well. That's another thing another tip for? And so but do you think that Instagram has made photographers become a little bit lazy in the sense that like, now you have filters, you have, you know, even with with posts, like I'm familiar with the production process,
like editing is a huge thing, right? And right, I can take a photographer to take a photo, and through just photography manipulation, you can make it look so much better. Absolutely. I feel like to me, I feel like you need a balance between the two, you should be able to go out there and shoot like an amazing photo, because you know how to use the camera. But then you should still have amazing skill sets. Like you might have an off day because there's not ideal conditions. And you should be able to fix certain things in posts, right? But if you don't have both, like there's these conventional purists that say, if you even edit slightly, you're not a photographer. Really? Yeah,
bro. Like, it's a whole thing. You don't I mean, and then because they never took the time to learn how to use Adobe like, like, whose fault is that, bro, like you have the like the apps to use, you need to learn how to use these skills in today's day, especially right. And you have the other ones that are a little bit more lazy. In my eyes, I think because they don't want to learn the craft of being a photographer using the camera and they'll go out and shoot something super lazy. But then like their editing skills are amazing. So then they'll turn something into, like more of a visual creative, kind of look. Right? And it's like, where do you find that balance? For me? I think I try
to make things seem as realistic as possible. So like, I might do some slight edits here and there just for fun purposes. But I try to keep it more realistic, right, like, but that's my lane. But there's nothing wrong with any of these lanes. Like, there's one dude that I know photofile he's actually from Toronto. Okay, super dope, creative man. Like he does some of the most amazing work that I've seen when it comes to like visual, like photo manipulation and stuff like that. Unreal. Like he the way he got picked up. I think he works for Google now like Google, like, signed them or something like that. For real? Yeah, he did a different edit for 365 days. Wow. Like every single
day, bro for a whole year. Like that's dedication, you know, I mean, like, if you're not putting that type of effort or energy in, like, you're not really gonna go like, where you want to go if you're not putting that type of energy. Yeah, I'll get to you. But it was a lot more interesting.
Yeah, because I one more question I had specifically about the world of photography, a lot of students or people who, for example, might go to school for something like this, right? Typically speaking, like, I have an arts degree, right. I studied in media and my backgrounds in media, but with with like YouTube and and all of those things out there is is a degree in photography even necessary nowadays Do you really have to do like four years of school for a trade that you can predict, you know, practically, you could probably pick it up on your own. Honestly, speaking, like, I'm all for, like education, if that is what you want to do. And this not only applies to
photography, I think it's like pretty much anything other than like, if you want to become a doctor, you know, the mean, or something along those lines that you definitely need to go to school for. You can even do it like certifications nowadays, right? You don't really need a degree as much. My thing is, if schooling is going to allow, like, if that's how you learn, and you're a type of learner that can only learn within the confines of school. Yeah, then then do it. But if you're somebody who's self driven, self motivated, you can learn things on your own. You have YouTube man, YouTube's like one of the greatest teachers ever, bro. Like Yeah, and and you just gotta go out there and shoot
and, and just learn from your own mistakes. That's the only way to really stick out much faster, I think. So how do you how do you measure what good photography is like, I know bone and I always talk about art being subjective. Yeah, like poetry is subjective. Like, you know, this person that like, it's subjective. So how would you define or measure what you think good photog
Feels? Honestly, I don't think it matters, bro. Because if there is a group of individuals, or you have a respective audience that is willing to digest your content, and it's good enough, like I like, like Who am I to really say what good quality content is because I'm sure there's some people that sit there and look at my stuff and probably don't think it's that impressive, but then there's but then there's, like our numbers, a reflection of that, because like, obviously, you have you have a big following online, you know, you know, certain certain pics get a lot of likes, or is that sometimes, you know, reshift your direction, like, oh, maybe I need to do more of this because more
people are liking this particular photo, I think is actually problematic, honestly, you know, because what it does is you have some of the best photographers or the best creatives that don't really get any light shined on them. And it kind of deters them from constantly posting because they're not getting love, right. But then you have other photographers or like other creatives that are really good, that are getting the love that I think they rightfully deserve. But there's so many people that are lost in the middle, you know, like, because of algorithms and these different things that you shouldn't be worrying about as a creative. You'll just get your content and posts man like,
it doesn't matter if it tanks like, like, Don't think too much about that. And I know it's difficult to say it as somebody who's gonna be Oh, like, doesn't matter for you because of this. But I'm telling you, like, there's certain posts, like my favorite pictures never do the best, bro. Like some of my favorite work, like I look at it, and I'm like, yo, what's good? Like, like, What do y'all not see. And then like something that I think that is, to me is like, almost a throwaway. But I'll just have to, like throw it in the mix. It'll just catch fire. People think it's the most amazing stuff. And I'm like, that's not even that nice. You know, I fall into that a lot. Like, I'll
post certain things, and it'll get a lot of likes. Yeah. And then I'll post things that I think are really interesting. And they don't get no love. And I'm like, Well, does that deter me then in the future? Not really, because I have no shame, right?
I don't really care. But I, you know, in the back of your mind, play on that, right? It's the whole concept of like the photographer in the model, like, oh, as, as a photographer, right? I will take a series of shots of a model that I think are like, pretty wild, like, they're pretty amazing. But like, I might like three, right? The three that the model will like herself or himself or whatever will be the three that I think might be the worst. Really? Yeah, it's always conflicting. And that's because through my scope is completely different. And through what they see, it's completely because they're just looking at certain things, like models just love to look at their face.
That's all that matters to them. Right? To me, it's like, I'm not gonna make your like, you're not gonna have your eyes closed. But like, if there's other like things in that shot that made it better, you know, I'm saying like, I'd want to go with that.
So speaking about posting online, which is something that you don't really do that often.
Is that what it is okay. Yeah, I think it's because it was the hate mail.
Because you have a very interesting social media strategy, which is to not do any
cult following. Yeah, he has that, like, you know, like, the weekend. And he's, like, they post like,
pictures where you can't see his face. Yeah, I mean, but you don't post at all. You don't post very often. Mm hmm. Yeah, I don't like to, like, I don't like to, like did there are a lot of like, poets, that post because they have to meet that one poem a day quota. You know what I mean, like a lot of writers, and they're just like, I gotta be consistent law. And I'm just like, I've gone months without posting cuz it just doesn't feel right. Or I like writing. And I just like to hoard it sometimes. Like, it doesn't feel right to share this at this time. Like, I've held poems, and projects just for like, years, man, because I, I don't want to ever feel like I'm doing art.
Anything other than for myself, myself, you know what I mean? Because if I get to a, to a point where I'm doing it for a bag, or I'm doing it for a gig, I know myself, I'm gonna start producing things, not because I love it. But because I need to do it just to catch something. You know what I mean? So for me, I don't want to ever catch myself, like falling down that hill where I'm just like, Yo, I haven't posted in a week or two. Yeah, but how does that help your brand? I mean, you need to, like you're saying content is king. Right. And as creatives we know, like you need to come to consistently putting work out Absolutely. Is this I think they do like an intervention right now,
right? Yeah. He needs help. He needs help for sure. But
hold on, hold on. So, you know, like that, that quote where they say like,
like, if like if you have like 10 people in a room and there's just one quiet person, and he or she's not talking to serial killer? No. Okay. I heard that one since then, like the moment they start talking. Everybody's listening. Yes, you
talk that time.
Let them know. Like, right, like if you post every day for a year, right? Mm hmm. They're not gonna miss that. Yeah. And then you grade that against the next year where you post once a month. Mm hmm. There's more of a yearning for your work. Like, if I go weeks without my work, people are dming me like, are you okay? Is everything okay? You know what I mean? And so I would rather have that. Yeah, but that goes against, like every algorithm. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, bro. I'll say one thing about me personally, like, I don't really post as crazy as I once used to as well, because I figured out like, posting things that don't mean anything to me. Like, it's it does, like, it doesn't make
sense. Like, I shouldn't have to post because I'm scared of the algorithm punishing me, right? Like, my thing is, like, if you don't have any kind of, like you said, yearning, like you don't say, if you don't really feel that burning desire to post, just because you're on it, and you you want to, like, make sure that the algorithm doesn't do your dirty like that. I don't think that's right, you know, so. So my thing is, like, you just have to know like, when it is, that would be ideal for you to post or like how to still continually keep people engaged, right? Like I said, through stories and like, there's different methods that you can still make sure that your algorithm or like your It
doesn't just completely go to wherever you are, I mean, yeah, cuz you know, what's gonna happen, right? If you if you do post for, like, like, all lives or whatever, you're gonna go a month, two months, and then after the three month mark and be like,
I'm not getting anywhere. Do you still use story and stuff as well? Like, even if you're not posting? Yeah, I mean, yeah, I don't use it as much as this guy. Yeah, I try to keep people engaged every now and then. But my thing is like, bro, like, my life isn't isn't like I have I personally Stop it.
No, but I think I have like, bro, like, content that I could I could post a picture a day for like, maybe three years, bro, huh? Like, really? Like, it's like, it's like that. But do I see the need to post pictures that really don't mean anything to because I think that's where I that's where I got to, like, I got to a level where I was like, it's nice to have a picture of a nice place. You know what I mean? Like a bridge in Dubai. It's nice. Like, it's nice to have pictures of the Eiffel Tower. Like, but like, what does it mean? Like, what's the purpose behind it? Because I think it's such an oversaturated thing now like people taking photos of nice places, and like just posting them
for the sake of posting it because I'm a photographer. And I just go places. It doesn't mean anything. Like, if you don't have any kind of like feeling behind what you're posting. I don't I don't see the need of do. What about your caption game? I mean, how does that like because I mean, people, you know, obviously, the whole paragraphs and I mean, I think caption game like, I've never been one to really write like paragraphs and paragraphs and stuff. But I can see the like the use of it. Like if used correctly. Of course, like, if you haven't posted it a long time, it would be interesting for people to know what you've been up to, you know, I think people will take the time
to read it. But I think if you're somebody who constantly posts like a paragraph, or like or two every time, I don't think like, eventually, you're gonna get like, they're gonna get tired really fast. Because we're in this generation, bro. where like, we are so quick to like, turn things off. Like, do you understand how difficult it is for people to just watch a one minute video and then click Keep watching. And like for me to hit click, like continue watching means that you're This was so amazing. Like you've done a stellar job. Like it's like a real commitment. Oh, like, it's tough. I'm like, yeah, give you a minute fan. Like, that's hard as it is, you know? So, like, I think like,
Instagram is trying to like, reward, reward people that are utilizing HGTV and stuff like that. How do you feel about HGTV? By the way? I don't know what it is. Like, I've posted one video. Yeah. And I just tested it out. Because I had a full length poem. I was like, okay, usually I'll do snippets of pieces here and there some lines. And I posted a full video once Yeah, and you know, it got it got traction, but then I don't know, like, Did I do it? Right? Am I supposed to post more? Did I you know what I mean? And then there's also like, the time of day you posted? You know, like, for me, it's it's and that's why I'm asking you guys genuinely because I'm interested because I know you
guys are you know, you you understand like Instagram very well. Someone like me, who's more of a novice at Instagram. I don't really understand. Like, like what I'm supposed to do. I just do stuff here and I'll post like, I'll go like months without posting like real life. I have nothing to post like, I'm just living life. I'm just doing whatever. And then like, somebody will tell me or I'll just get an idea. And I'm like, I'm gonna post three times a week for the next like month, right? I'll just give myself a task and a target. I'd be like, Alright, you know, let me just now I'll just fall off and like, I don't I don't really know if I'm doing it right. Or if I'm doing it wrong,
right. Like the whole igtv thing. I don't watch anything on igt right. I don't know if other people watch things on HGTV. I have really no way of gauging and it's a tough thing man. Like I know when they initially came up with it. I think they were trying to compete with YouTube. Right, right. So the whole thing was like they saw like a portion whereby a lot of YouTubers were moving away from it and utilizing it.
Instagram. So they were like, why don't we give them a little bit of a leg up so we can just really just snack YouTubers, you know, just keep them in. Yeah, just keeps Yeah. Because at the end of the day, like, Instagram is the most popular platform. We all know this. So like for somebody to go from Instagram to another platform like YouTube is already crazy to me. Yeah, you know what I mean? Like, I'm leaving this application to go here. Like, if I could keep them here, I'll rather keep them here. So they thought that it would translate well, and I don't think it's translated as good as they thought that it would. Yeah, but I know for sure. Like a lot of people that utilize videos,
they kind of reward them when you post on like HGTV. Like they kind of brought in your TV. Nah, bro. Not really, like but I don't really post videos like that. Do you watch content on GTV? I'm only select people just because like, I know, like, I know who it is like my voiceover like he does. Like he's amazing. Funny skit videos like basketball videos and stuff like that, that the dude is
gonna score videos.
I saw actually I saw he's probably guessed from the D. Yes. He was like our neighbor. Oh, is it? Yeah, I see him just how does he get those shots? Oh, he's nice. He can't tell him.
definitely, it goes in like, obviously, you know, it's real. It's all real. But that's probably like one at every, like, 20 shots. No, it's not. It's a lot better than money. Like,
that's not even a skill. You're just throwing the ball.
But if you look at his videos, though, he looks back, he looks back to see like where the rim is at. And wherever he's at. He looks back boom. Yeah. And it's and I see he'll do a funeral. Yeah, like, it's like, this is funny. Like, he genuinely makes me laugh. So you'll watch him on igt. Yeah, because that's the bro like, and not only that, like, I genuinely think he's hilarious. And even the people that he does collabs with, like, I'll I'll go and watch their stuff, just because I know like for him to do stuff with people, like he doesn't do things with people just because, like of cloud or anything like that he'll do things only with people that he genuinely finds funny. So it's like,
it's interesting to see. So here's, here's another question now for both of you guys. And this is an interesting point of discussion that I think it's worth mentioning. I'm just making sure the mics on Okay. Hello. Hi. Hi, everyone. Okay.
You both have like real jobs. Yes. Like you, obviously, you work for, you know, a major media company. You're an astronaut, I believe.
In NASA, NASA. Yeah. Like you do something to do with like the solar system. Yeah. I don't know what he told me one time. And I was like, yo, that's crazy. They let you in that building. They gave you that credentials.
I trust you with
government credentials. This guy.
I gotta talk to Trump about that. Anyways. And this is something interesting that I think I always encourage, right, which is the fact that, and this might tie into what we're talking about, that you guys also maybe are more laxed, in your approach approach. Because you're not really eating off of your art in that same way. Like you don't depend on it. Right, right. Right. Right. Right. Whereas like, someone like myself, who you know, is, unfortunately, my full time artists, right? This is what I do, like, as a nine to five, I kind of get caught up in the pressure of like, okay, you know, how do I best utilize these these, you know, different social media mechanisms? How do I best keep
because you also want to become relevant, you want to stay relevant, right? Absolutely. And I think that is something that I constantly battling with as well. Because you do want to have the flexibility to say, like, you know, I just want to do it for me, and I want to be sincere, but then the other side of it is like, hey, like, I got a right, I gotta, I gotta put things out there. So let's talk about, you know, both of those things. Do you think that your attitude or your ability, maybe for yourself to be less engaged at times is partly due to the fact that you know, it's something that you and you did, in my opinion, you do the right thing? Right, like, having a full
time steady income job that may not even be connected to art. To me, I always tell artists This is that that gives you the freedom and flexibility to do the art that you want to do. Yeah, right. Yeah, it doesn't force you to become like, you know, this this cliche of the starving artist. Yeah, you know, like, all right, Tom some money, maybe
I'll do whatever you need, right? Like, you know, you can be comfortable, right? Yeah. So what do you think about that? Would you and would you ever do the opposite? Would you ever leave your your full time job? And just focus on art? I mean, honestly, yeah. Like I would, but the reason why I'm in the situation I'm in is because, like growing up, our parents were always like, yo, you guys could do whatever you guys want to do. You got to make sure that you go through X, Y and Z system and so like growing up, they invested You know, a lot even private tutors, like super young just like go into this and go into that just to make sure like, our base was really strong and for me and
hamdulillah I was good at math and and hamdulillah I was good at writing too. You know, and then so the math Avenue kind of took me
towards an engineering route, and to lead my writing took me towards poetry. So when I when I went into university, it's funny because I want it to be like an aeronautical engineer first. Okay. And then NASA what do they do? So that's like spaceship stuff. They're there. They're not up. They're not up there, but they're in the labs like fixing plant building efficient plane, right. Okay. And then so what? Sorry, I haven't. Yeah. My University and they were like, aeronautical engineer. Yeah, you're not gonna be like, we don't teach that here. Oh, really? And I was like, Alright, cool. So I go back home and I'm like, googling, just googling like the closest thing to aeronautical
engineering, right? Because it just sounded cool, you know?
And that was mechanical. I bet like I'm gonna be building my Ferrari's you know what I mean? And then they're like, yeah, we don't have mechanical engineer. So what do you guys have? to engineer?
We have nursing, and electrical. So I went into electrical, okay, but it was tough, man. It was rough. Like, I didn't have a social life. Like I still don't, but I definitely didn't have one then. And then like, in between my exam, just like as a form outlet. I'd be writing pose. Right. And like, I never shared it. And it's funny cuz a lot of people don't know like, the first time I perform guys was at my university. When this guy came and shut it down. Let him know.
Mr. jockey, they came. There was literally like, folks sitting on the stairwell. Yeah. Sitting on each other's laps. Okay. I don't know. But that way. Yeah.
It was that kind of party back. Yeah. And this guy is like, he like walked on the auditorium. And they're all like, Oh, my God.
Yeah, yeah. You gotta pay homage. Yeah. And then, um, so I opened up for this guy then. And then after that performance, people were like, Oh, so you do poetry? Like I remember like making Lulu one time. It's a brother came up to me. He was brother, your engineer, and he did poetry?
I guess I do. Now, like all of it was always closeted, you know what I mean? But that was like a stamp. I was like, Yeah, I gotta continue. So then. So I basically gave birth to you. Yo, basically, you definitely did not let
the Muslim community in general made it very difficult for me, I have to be completely honest, made it very difficult for me to basically just grow as a poet and I think that we still have that problem within the Muslim community. I'll tell you why. Because
the Muslim community when they do poetry related events, they're just looking for they're just looking for the bone of Mohammed's you know what I mean? Like, they're just looking for someone to see. There's only a few of those
and generate the bag, right? Yeah. And so like, after I did that opening, I was like, yo, like, we don't know, when's the next gig? Yeah, you know what I mean? Yeah, I know why? I never thought and then like, I went to like, a bunch of open mics, right. And a bunch of people were just like, yeah, we have open mics, Tuesdays and Thursdays on is white. It was white people. And they were very, very, very welcoming. Yeah. to like, like the amateur pole. You know what I mean? And they're just like, yeah, Tuesdays and Thursdays are very ethnic name. Yeah. Yeah. I can't even work. Where are you? Where are you even performing? Like, who are you are in Yes. Honestly. Like, I don't even
remember it. To be honest. I think it was just like, Hey, guys, I have a poem here. And then here it is. You guys like it?
Just to try it out? Yeah, you know, he's good. Yeah, it was just like they were very
Muslim community. Make it easier for your local poets or local artists in general to get into the mix man. Like, it's crazy. Like Boehner night tomorrow, we're doing a tour last February and it's always going to come up again. Where we every city we went to, we made sure we had a poetry slam, where we gave the opportunity to a bunch of poets in that city to show their work and just get in the mix you know what I mean? And then you went obviously cash prize you know what I mean? But more importantly, you get to show your work and get judged you know what I mean? Although born I didn't agree on a lot of the you know, on a lot of the judgments, a lot of them are dope, but a lot of them
are you know, kind of tough, but
yeah, man if you're an organizer just make it easier for folks that are don't have a platform to get in the mix, give give that outlet for up and comers. 100% so you know, and I'm always a big I'm a big fan of like, I always tell people you know, I can spare 10 minutes in the beginning of the show let somebody come up and and open up and I joke around with you because like I you know, I gave birth to you. I really didn't give birth.
But I've given birth to so many people. By the way I gave birth to Mrs. Oh, yeah, he'll never admit it though. He did. I had him on the podcast as well. Oh,
okay. When the when the when the womb speaks.
That man, you know, there's a lot of people and you know what it is? It's because I had such a head start, right? Because I had not even been the pioneer. You're like the the soldier boy.
with a soldier boy Okay, Muslim poetry not like lyrically. Not that with my glasses on it
was a first like rapper to get into the YouTube browser with a pint. You pioneered Muslim poetry like me for you. There was no there were a lot of people before me one person that really was, I think the real pioneer was a mere suit a man. Yeah, I agree. Yeah, like, because he's the he's like the OG like, I remember the first time I performed for Muslim audience, I was his opener.
So that that takes you back. And that was in 2007. Wow. 2007. You were How old? You were like probably 11 and a half. I think you were close. Yeah, you were still a lacuna. And you didn't know you didn't know your real name by that you were still young. Right. But I think that the problem that I find an A big part of it is due to the fact that there aren't enough of these outlets, right? There aren't enough platforms for people to test out their work. But then at the same time, there are people who, for example, will utilize social media, right? They'll get big on social media, but then when people invite them to a real event, don't they realize it's not the same thing? Right,
right. Like and here's where my advantage What does that like I perform for the non I perform mainly for non Muslims for many years? Yeah. before I was even introduced to the Muslim audience. Right, right. So I already you know, I already got my, my, my 10,000 hours in like, I was already good, you know? And then when I came to the Muslim mindset, like, Alright, cool, I'll just switch it up and whatever. So, but now I find that there are a lot of poets like yourself, who are utilizing social media in a different way, right? Because I like what you do. And I think it's very unique. Like, you don't online you don't do spoken word. Right. You do like the the corny kind of poetry. Oh, what
would you call it? The the writing the writing is
a hater cuz he doesn't write love. If somebody saw my writing on paper, they'd be like, what is this? This is the dumbest thing ever. It is an art form it is.
So So how do you differentiate the two and how do you like cuz you I think you're a dope performer. Yeah. Corner music corny writer. No, but
you do have that cornball in you?
But it comes out better. I'm saying how do you transition? How do you how do you differentiate like okay, this is my spoken word. This is my like, you know, my book because you have a book if you're a published author, right? You have your own book of poetry. How do you differentiate between, like this theme I want to do spoken word versus this theme. I want to make it into, you know, a post or a page of poetry. So rhythmic so whenever I do like rhythmic poetry is spoken, right? Because a it's easier for me to remember kind of like acapella rap. Right? Be it's different from the typical poem here, where you draw the lines, and you start your words out like that. I'm not very good at you
know what I mean? I'm not very good at that, you know, I'm not like, I can't do that type of poetry. I just didn't really like to do that kind of No, I've never done that kind of poetry isn't really structured. I've got really just rap slow down. Yeah, I've never, I've never
I don't have an affinity towards that. But, um, it's funny, because the way that I actually started, like, doing spoken word was like, when I was like, 13, right?
I go to this guy. And I like the first couple of times, I was like, give him like, a few bars, right? He'd be like, yo, get out of here. Like,
like, you'd be like, that's why he's here right now.
And I'm like, 13, right. Like, what are you doing? Right, let's go play ball. And then I found like, a workaround. Right. I was, I was kind of crazy. One day. I was like, yo, one day was like, yo, yo,
did you like NAS track? He's like, Nah, some of y'all. He said, No.
I was heavy into NASA at the time. So So did you know your weakness? Yeah. So this guy comes at me and he's like, yo, listen to this nozzle area, and a nozzle. Like he just say something. And so I would measure how good
Oh, no, I was crazy.
You'd be like, yo, yo.
Oh, you know, back then there was like, there was like websites that used to have like lyric websites back in
I don't rhyme when I write because I feel like for me personally, I just don't like because I've tried like writing down and posting on Instagram. My spoken
Word didn't work. And then also I've tried performing some of the stuff that had my book didn't work out, right? There are literally two completely different art forms that come with two completely different audiences. They do you know, I have people that buy my book, when come to my show, people that I'd love to come to my show one Bible book. Yeah.
He's a, he's like, I'm the one that doesn't pay for anything. Yeah, that's a given. But you know, it's interesting, because like, I, as a writer, and I'm a performer and a poet, and I have respect for the art form. I cannot. I cannot stand written poetry, like in the sense that I don't get it. Like, I'm one of those people that like, reads it. And I'm like, like, I don't I don't know, have you? Have you read? Like, I'll be honest, I don't read a lot of poetry because I feel like, I don't want it to influence a lot of the things that I say. But there are like, some poets that are you read their written work? And you're like, wow, like, like, I don't know if you heard of Watson.
By the way, and I and I never follow.
But I think she still, she does. She's also a performer, by the way. Yeah, she does reading. Yeah, he doesn't like but when you look at her poems, and you read it, like, they hit Like, they hit me in the gut. Yeah, you know what I mean? And I'm like, yo, so if, if, if four to eight lines of poetry can have that much impact on me. And honestly, I'm just like, I'm very selective with what I intake in terms of reading. And if I look at somebody's work, and I'm like, yo, like, that hit me in the gut, like, I know that feeling. So for me to be able to produce that type of feeling for someone else. Yes, fine. There's a huge market for him. You know, it's weird, because like, even though I
understand you don't need to rhyme. Like, I get that on paper. If it doesn't rhyme. I have a hard time like calling a coach. Like, it's like, Oh, are you just gonna create an essay, you just talk? You just talk to me? You just spoke to,
like, haikus and all that stuff. I'm like, Dude, this is not real. Yeah, like, I don't make a hash tag. They're not real.
They're just a poor man's, like 16 bars. But you know, to be honest, I would go the other way and say that, if I read poetry right now, that rhymes like I get it. If it's like something that you saw, like slap on paper, and you're like, Oh, this is like, you know, something I would perform. Like, there are different types of like, rhythmic poetry that sound like rap. Like I've seen posts on Instagram arrives and I'm like, yo, those are bars. rhythmically. Yeah, there's a lot of rhythmic poetry that is very amateurish, it's right. Very, very, very amateur. It's like 90%, in my opinion, of rhythmic poetry on writing, amateur, like, I have, like people that come to me, like, on insight
that they want to start writing. Rule number one don't rhyme bro. I literally give them like, if you wanna perform, do what you want Ryan, she writing poetry guys. And girls, if you're writing poetry, and you're just like, upcoming, in my opinion, you're gonna take it for whatever for whatever, whatever it is, but do not ride you'll have a question for you.
So which do you prefer? Of the two? Like if you had to be in one?
In one buyer?
agents? Yeah, it was easy, though. Spoken? Really? Let me tell you why. What really? That's interesting to me, because it's like, a natural fit.
Because, like, you've done more written work, by the way. Yeah, I have, but you have a book, right? Yeah. Let me tell why. Right. Because when I give my book out to somebody, and they're reading it, for the most part, they don't know how they read it. But if I'm performing right in front of you, I can see your jaw drop. I can see your eyes squint I can see you stop looking at your phone because now you're into my performance. I can do that instant gratification. Yeah. You know to me, it's like fast food right? Well
By the way, like a spoken word why I feel like it's a powerful medium is because it's one of the only mediums were outside of like comedy I would say comedy is probably even more intense right but like you get instant feedback from the audience right? Yeah, right like a comedian for example. You tell a joke it bombs you know a bomb.
Right? You know, and I've been in I've been with Muslim comedians at events where they're doing a joke that's done well in the past and I watched them do it again to this crowd and it doesn't work and I laugh my head off is so funny that it sucks like because it was great before right to stand up. You know I
i would love to do stand up but then like look, if I if I do stand up and I do film
for you guys. Like to live those guys out here monopolizing the entire Muslim. Do you know what I'm saying? It's not fair right now. Yeah. Generally funny, bro. I'm like the the Elan musk of this game. You know? By the time you guys catch up. I'm gonna be on Mars, bro.
Let me know. We can go to Mars. Yo, we got you bro. You
got the blueprints.
Now, you obviously you said that spoken word is kind of your love. What do you see yourself doing more of in the future?
Oh, it's tough man, like I have
because they're booked in Well, you've been, you know, people are responding to it. And you're obviously your public persona on social media is more in line with your writing. Absent a lot of a sudden, a lot of people actually don't even know I do, like, spoken word. Like I remember, someone messaged me a while ago. And she was like,
Oh, you do spoken word. And it's funny, because I started from spoken word. So you definitely write that people know me more for writing. Yeah, but um, that's tough. Like, on one hand, I'm like, I have ideas of like, you know, dope visuals and just like doing performances and shows. And then on the other hand, I have this idea of just continuing to write, you know what I mean? I've seen like, how far that could go. And for me is, I don't think there have to be mutually exclusive. Like, you know what I mean? Like, I've been doing both and hamdulillah. Yeah. And I feel like you're why not continue to do but you haven't really been doing both? 100%. It's not, it's not easy to do both at
the same time.
I just thought about bringing it back, though, I feel like because we both have jobs or whatever, we're able to pick and choose what we do you see. So it kind of ties back to what you were saying earlier. If he really was like the quote unquote, starving artists or he had to, like, constantly create content, best believe he would be doing both on a high level because I know he can. But if he had that much time to be able to like lock in on both of them. When he doesn't have any other distractions. It'd be a wrap, like he really would be going hard. But I feel like honestly, like, just bring it back to that question earlier. Right? It's To me, it's like one of the biggest
blessings, being able to know that you can create content when you want and how you want it, and you don't have to rely on it to really get that bag in, in a sense, you know, not to say that, you know, there's a lot of money in this, like, Don't get it twisted, like, Yo, I'm cashing some nice bags. Would you ever leave your I won't say the company work for you, or for a big company have a really nice job? Yeah, it's something that's in your field or creative. Yeah. Would you ever leave your job and focus strictly on the professional side? Ideally, I think I would only if I were to, like solidify a couple of big contracts with like, big brands, like, as in like, these are long term? No,
I would say not. It doesn't really have to be like, super long term because like, none of these brands are really doing things like that long term nowadays, you know, if I catch like a two year contract with like, I don't know Nike or something. Yeah, I'd be cool stepping away for a bit cuz I'm gonna like I got some money. Yeah, you know, so like, that's not the issue. But I feel like, if I have to, like, drop everything that I'm doing now to go into the realm of art,
to do it, without knowing what my next step is, is something that I'm not that's I've never been a risk taker, bro. Like, don't Don't get it twisted. Like, there's like I admire I admire people like
I'm telling you, it's scary on this side, trust me, I know but the thing is, like with great risk free with great risks come great rewards, you know, I'm saying like, Mashallah, so like, you take that risk, you know, I'm saying that you have to local you know, at the end of the day, you're, it's gonna it's gonna work out for you because your back is against the wall, you have to make it work. Yeah, the difficulty is how do you make sure that you don't compromise your content, bro like, and Mashallah, you've done a really good job, right, like creating really awesome content. Like I, I know, people personally, that stepped away from their full time jobs, to take on full careers within
the art realm. And I meet up with them about a year later, bro. And they're super depressed, and they're super not happy with where they are. Why? Because they feel as though they stepped away from a full time. And now they picked up another full time, right? Like, like, I would hate it. If I picked up a camera today and said, I want it to be a full time photographer. And felt as though like, every time I'm going to a shooting or like I'm dragging my feet, and like I'm saying, you know, I'm saying like, it's just it's, it's hard to be self motivated. Yeah. Especially when you know what I mean? Like, and I've worked in organizations and companies before, and you know, that
pressure from above timelines, these things, the structure like, Yeah, when there's a structure and there's an infrastructure, it gives you a sense of stability, you know, your paychecks coming on this day, you know, you know, I mean, when you're out in the wild, you know, I feel like sometimes I'm like a scavenger in the woods, like trying to find food, like, it's like, I gotta come up with ideas. You know, you gotta I gotta be creative. I gotta think, okay, let's let's come up with this event. Let's kind of so it's one of those things that I'll tell you my honest opinion is that I think both of you could easily leave your jobs and and do this full time, do your art full time. And
I think that as a, as a community, we need to start understanding the importance of giving people like you, you know, paying you well, asking you to do work that we feel is important. Because it's almost like we're losing out. You know, this is what my biggest fear is, and I mean, my wife talks about this often, you know, because sometimes I complain about you know, I'm stressed out and this and that. She says like, why don't you
Get a job. My kids tell me Daddy, why don't you get a real job? They don't know what I do. They're like,
they're in the basement right now talking with these guys. They
just work, right? Like dad. Yeah, right. And I agree with him. So I'm like, Damn, why don't I get a real job. And I think to myself, man, it's like, working for somebody, but not just working with someone, but I feel like, and this is not to brag, but I feel like I'm an asset for the community of 100 trying to do something for us. 100%. And if I step back, it's like, well, yeah, there's a lot that could be lost, I could still try and grind. You know, on the side, I could be like, a weekend warrior. And after work, you know, I mean, but I just know that you can't have as much impact, bro. Like, when you like, the way that you do, like, the way that we're doing it. As crazy as it sounds
is like is, is pretty selfish, in a sense, because we are doing it for our own personal growth. Like,
it's just for me, like, whoever is consuming my content can consume it as they will, bro. Like, but for me, it's literally for me, because I like, like I said, I've had opportunities where like, because I handler of the position that I have, like my full time and all that stuff, whatever, I can turn down a lot of gigs that a lot of people wouldn't be able to turn down because like, sometimes the money's right. But it's like, that's not in Rome with what I want to do, right? Because it's like, I never want to pick up the cam and do something that'll be like, man, oh, the bag is so right. Like, I've been asked to do certain things that I won't say because like, I won't, I don't
want to knock certain people's fields. But like, that could never be me. Yeah, you know, but that that realm is very lucrative. Yeah, I can't do it. See, I 100% agree with that. And I think even if you decide to take, you know, the the independent route or whatever, like you have to have principles, like you have to have morals, you have to have boundaries and things, you know,
that you're not willing to cross and sacrifice, but it gets hard, actually, when when rents due at the end of the month. Absolutely. And you see that, you know, they tell you, hey, come we got this fashion model here. And you know, come take these pictures and bad we're like, Damn, well,
let's get this party cracking. But then again, I feel like, you know, you both have, you know, very good jobs, but a lot of people, they also work in jobs where they do stuff they don't like to do anyway. Yeah, right. Right. Right. People work in fields in positions where like, you know, they're not exactly 100% halau either, right. So like, what's the difference? See, I think my bad. But like, I think with certain people like that the example that I brought up earlier with with one of my friends. He was he was doing a job that he didn't like, either. But a year later, I asked him, I said, What's the difference between what you were doing now and what you're doing? Like, he's
basically making just a little bit more money with photography, but it's like he's working that much harder, right? So I'm like, you may be collecting a couple extra 20 grand, like, on the end of the year, but at what cost, right? Because now, you used to use your photography as an outlet as a passion as a way for you to like unwind, in a sense, right? used to hang with the gang used to, like, go out and like shoot just by yourself certain, like, certain things that you just, you have a peace of mind certain time when I just go out sometimes I'll just go out and just shoot by myself. And like, he'll be like, Oh, this guy's weird. You know, that's fine. It's whatever, I just do my
own thing, because to me, that's super relaxing, right? If I use my camera on a regular day basis, and I had to like, like, fend for myself utilizing it, I don't think it would be fun anymore. And like, I don't want to ever get to a point where I lose that. Like it being fun. You know, that's a different that's a real thing. Do you feel like you've like compromised your art? Well, I'm here doing the podcast with you.
I was a purist that would be
in the lab right now.
You know, and when you said that actually resonates with me a lot because I and I've said this publicly before, like I have, I don't even think I've written a poem. In the past maybe a year, write like a poem, then I can sit down and, and I used to love that process. And I used to sit down and I used to like scribble and come up with ideas. Now I'm also moving, I'm transitioning more into kind of the rap thing as well. And film as well. So I'm, you know, creatively, I'm kind of looking at different things in that way. But the poetry which is the the thing that really got me started the spoken word, I found it to become something that is like almost a burden Now, like I can't even
write for myself. It's like I have to write with an audience in mind. Wow. And that becomes a very scary place because I literally, I fell out of love. Yeah, and I have, I wouldn't say a fallen out of love. You know, we're on the rocks right now. We're trying to work it out. You know, I'm sleeping on the couch, but we're in therapy right now. Right? But like, I've also decided that look, you know, I love storytelling, right? Which I consider spoken word to be a part of the same fan, right? The storytelling, right? And I'd love film and I'd love to kind of you know, I'm exploring different options in that way. But it is one of those things like you're right 100% like when you start doing
it at that level at that with that need right and urgency.
It naturally becomes something you're not in love with. And I feel like the way for me to combat that is to say no. Right? But you have that luxury though, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, but but exactly. But like for me, like I've been in situations where people have asked me to perform for certain themes. Like, for example, hey, we have a fundraiser coming up about orphans, you know, which is an amazing cause. But I've never written about orphans. Yeah. So I've never want to get into the rhythm of writing four different things that I necessarily wouldn't have written about. If it wasn't for catching a quick bang. Charity, start calling brothers. What do you want orphans? Well, widows? I
got him in alphabetical order, brother. Twice.
Which which orphan? You want? What color?
page 36. Yeah.
said it before I said, another podcast that like Muslim charities have become like the mafia. Right, in terms of like events and organizing, right? It's like nothing goes through in any city. Unless there's, you know, the commission, you know, like they have Yeah, the five families. Yeah, the five charities, yeah, gather around and decide, you know, this person who do we lay in the city, you know, I'm saying, I'm a made man.
At the same time, like coming up, you're not gonna find many platforms that don't involve some type of charitable theme or 100%. But you know, it's like, back in the day, it wasn't like that. Like I'm when I came to like, you know, what, George Mason stuff. It was like, you know, there was no fundraiser. It was just students come you pay your admission, you kind of like it, but there was still like gatekeepers that were letting certain things come through and like refusing to let other things like MSA kids. Yeah, but bro, they're still geeky, right? Because they are they are Yeah. But to a certain extent, is different, though. Like, I feel like one has a very good point. Initially,
when he first started doing it, it was like, even the content of the work that he was pushing was just like, Oh, this just got this guy's Muslim. And he pushes, like spoken word poetry that's like Muslim related, but it doesn't have to even really be anything on cue with a certain theme right now. It's like, Look, we want you to perform about this. It's super specific now. So you can't come here and spit your two pieces about? I don't know, you know, so. And so we need a poem on Kashmir. Absolutely. Brother, do you have that poem prepared? Right. Or brother? We need a poem on on the the flood in this country, right. Yeah. And it's like, for the most part, I you know, I have kind of
generic pieces that I can you can kind of I can tie in, and I can talk about it and stuff. But it definitely is a big like, it's it's a big hamper on like, the creative aspect of it. So not really to express yourself, let me ask you this, right. Do you think as we get older,
that, for example, just using spoken word, as an example, but any other art form, that
this type of entertainment is getting increasingly more difficult or something you don't desire? That's a
keyboard on here. I'm just really passionate about. And then I know, I know,
don't tell anyone. Yeah.
But do you think that you find it more undesirable?
Now that you're getting older, because you know, a lot of people like if you look at like, there are a lot of people that say, like, Oh, I'm too old to be an entertainer now, like, what am I doing? Like, you know what I mean, you know what it is, I feel like, I feel like I'm still a really good writer and performer, but the things that I want to talk about, there's no audience for, like, what, like, I mean, that might be my perspective on things. It would be done in such a way that might kind of neglect my current audience. And like, as a normal person, like you grow, you evolve, you know, your ideas change, like, you know, your approach to things, certain things, certain things changes,
which is why I've also realized that like filmmaking, for me, it's probably a better outlet. Like, it's something it's first of all to feel that's completely open. There's not much you know, happening in that realm. So you can hide you can hide behind actors. No, I'm, I'm the lead actor,
lead actor for a for another actor. What are you talking about? Let me know when you need a gig like a top, top, top boy.
ready for it.
But it's weird, like, because I'm still in the creative world. Like, I've never seen myself outside of art. But it's like, I also think that you know, and it's weird because people might look at you now and say, Oh, he only does writing. He's only does poetry. Right? And they don't realize that you're multifaceted. Like you have other you know, like yourself, oh, he's just a photographer. Right? It's like, no, I can do more than that. Like, I have other talents and other so sometimes it actually sucks when you get pigeonholed, because you have to reintroduce yourself individually and for I know, for a lot of communities and for like people in our community. They can't see you in any
other way. 100% You know, it's like, no, you're this guy. Yeah. And it's like no, I you know, I do
Different things I can do. And actually, I have this skill set has allowed me to do other things, right. And it's given me a platform like like really I'm really focusing on filmmaking like this is something that it's I'm very passionate about. And I've been able to utilize my you know, my spoken word name and my contacts to say, Okay, look, let's, let's bring a film now I came in did an event with you guys last year, why don't we do a film this year? Right. And I see a lot of times people are kind of like, what do you do film? Yeah, like is that this is like a real thing. Like, you know, and I'm like, Yeah, but I'm hopeful inshallah, you know, 510 years from now, you know, it'll be the
norm absolute which because when I started doing spoken word, by the way, it wasn't the norm. It wasn't right. I was the oddball out. I remember, man, man, I did so much for you guys.
You guys should just be paying
a heavy labor by the way. It was.
A lot of people he ain't birth me. Let me tell you why.
I tried getting into the Muslim poetry thing early on. Two reasons. I didn't happen one. A lot of gatekeepers. I'm excluding you. A lot of gatekeepers didn't let me in. I'll be honest, a lot of organizations are like, oh, who are you? Sorry, you're not Bona they didn't allow me into the Muslim culture. See?
Number one. Yeah.
Yeah, voted. Number two. Yeah. Till today. Yeah, people don't look at me as a Muslim poet. They just don't. Nobody looks at like who says, Oh, he's a Muslim boy. I don't even think people know Muslim. And it's kind of sad. No, no, I burst you but it was more of like a, like a miscarriage along the way. Like some some happen. I left them on the road. And I was like, like, even we didn't bring you the full journey way. Like, even when you know, you're right. You're right. Let people know. Yeah, people don't necessarily so but I want to help change that as well. And I think that's a shame that you haven't been as celebrated in the Muslim community. Like, and you have a lot of love in the non
Muslim world, which is fine. But again, it's to my point earlier that, like, we have so much talent, yeah. Like, we should be honing that supporting that creating platform so that within our own world, such that we don't need to, like people tell me all the time, Brother, why don't you do like mainstream films, right? Why don't you I'm like, dude, we're like, 1.5 billion people. Yeah, this is mainstream right now. Like we are a niche. And that's the way the world is working out marketing policies. Everything's about niche marketing, everything's about, you know, whether it's the black audience, whether it's a Muslim audience, right. But I feel like bro, with the Muslim audience, a
lot of times, they're not ready to accept any content that isn't directly Muslim oriented, I'll tell you this. It's like, it's like, to me, it's like, if you're Boehner, right, and you're doing a poem today about strictly about mental health, like, I'm sure you've done so many different, like poems that have to do with like, other things outside of the deen. Right. But that might not be as receptive as your other Muslim oriented 100% of them say so. To me, it's kind of like, they are still holding that market. As like, only an outlet, speaking about being which, I mean, it's not a bad thing at all, but it's like, you can have somebody that's Muslim, that is not only giving you
Muslim content, like and that's what we need to expand to, not to say that Muslim content is bad or anything, but like, you'll let other people in the realm bro, like, like, you can't just only hold this, like Muslim. Like, yeah, like, it's such a tiny niche, and like, it, like pushes people away, bro, to like, actually, like, not want to be within that realm anymore. You know, I'm saying and go elsewhere with their artistry, when in actuality you could be really like, you know, welcoming the men. No, you're right, in the sense that like, look as as, as most as a Muslim community that's growing and evolving. You know, we're not like immigrants anymore. Like, you know, we're all you
know, we're here where we have our own lives, whatever we're not adjusting, we need to understand that art and culture is a part of our makeup. And it's a part of what develops identity. Right. And this is how the future of Muslims in America and Canada in the US, they will begin to evolve and begin to carry on and continue to carry that flag, right. It's through culture. And I think that's really what I've always been preaching is that, you know, I'm fighting a cultural war, right? People don't sometimes get it, but I'm like, dude, I'm not competing with you know, I mean, such and such in the sheet artist or whatever, I'm competing with everything else out there. that's meant to
distract you, as you said, yeah. And, and we're here to try and provide so it doesn't have to be sometimes right on the nose. Absolutely. Right. It can be something but like, there are parameters, right? Like, you know, we we don't want to obviously, you know, give, give rise to some things that are you know, anti Islamic or, or against the [???]ty by nature, or sanity, you know, nudity, all that kind of stuff. Right. Right. But I think that's part of a community's maturity. I think that's part of what our generational screenshot will be able to instill. And I'm appreciative of it like I know a lot of Muslim artists who don't necessarily do what I do who do like Muslim based art, but I
still appreciate what they do and there's still there's still space for it. Right? And I think you know, one shift, I'll end with this because we are going to wrap up soon shot level one shot, he taught me something very important. I was debating with him once and I won't say his name because I don't want anyone to hate on him. But he was I was debating with him once about
He's American about Muslims being Democrats or Republicans. And I was telling him I was like, how can I Muslim be a republican? Like I didn't logically make sense in my head. I'm like, yo, these republicans like they really don't like Muslims, everything they say, and they're but and he told me something very wise and I always remember this, he said, he said, our faith is is something that income should encompass everything, right? We need to be mature enough to understand that we need people on every side. Right? We need people that are conservative, Republican, liberal, whatever, because that way we're covered. Right? Right. And and it's like in just to kind of expand on that
like, you know, whether you do your type of photography, whether you do your type of poetry, whether you do my type of poetry, or this type of film, or that type of film, you know, we should be mature enough to understand that not everything has to look the same. Not everything has to be the exact same but I think collectively there is his hand and all of it you know, and it's I think a part of a maturity that our community needs to develop that we understand that you know, there's value to everything and what we do and I appreciate both of you brothers and I love the work that you know both of you guys do and I think you guys are great examples of that that it doesn't always have to
be on the nose and I think hopefully inshallah people can benefit from that and I'm sure there's many artists starving or otherwise you know, I used to be starving
a couple summers Robin. I got to get in the gym Brian burns
you know same but how can people get in touch with you again one more time here is social I guess me in the US Swiss cheese world that's why I have it but it's really like and I just started a new one maybe about a year and a half ago. But I'd be active I go on and off because I can't the Twitter feeds terrible bro like I can't I can't stand a look at it. I don't actually read anything on Twitter I have just automatic posts I don't like it is kind of a dead platform. Yeah instagram instagram.
And I make sure I have all the information for you as well. How can they find you all you comment it at a b o n a m Mashallah I show people gonna be like man, I probably got short what happened to you brother? He was taller than me light and dark and short. A la KU de la and of course, myself and I like who will be hopefully inshallah this February. Be touring again, US inshallah. So you can come check us out. And of course, hopefully swizzy will be there tagging along. So you can take a picture with him or he could take a picture of you.
However you want to do the transaction. And
thank you much for joining me. Thank you for watching. Take care. We'll see you next time at Santa Monica.