Channel: Boonaa Mohammed
Series: Boonaa Mohammed - What the Fiqh
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Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah Salam alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu. Welcome back to what the fifth and I am joined. Once again, with most of the key once again, we got to bring it back. It was so good the first time. That was great. We had to bring it back for a second time. Okay, full disclosure, what happened was, okay, we recorded one, a full podcast together. It was actually my second recording that I did. And some idiot that was just completely reckless and irresponsible. So I'll remain unnamed, shall remain anonymous. Okay. Abu anonymous will call
actually forgot to press the record button on the recorder professional. So he's since been fired. So you don't have to worry about you won't be dealing with him any longer. Okay, I am his alter ego.
Shorter and darker than the past. But how many that's good to have you guys back. And what we'll pretty much do is kind of redo the podcast that we did before, because I think there were a lot of gems within it. And there was a lot about your journey as artists that I think a lot of people might not know. And for those who are not familiar with yourselves, let's first of all, introduce both of yourselves. So my name is Bella Moore. And I am 18. And I'm the rapper. Oh, no, this is not like a marriage.
No more. I have a stable income, I can support a family. My father's number is 647.
Okay, so jabril and Bill out that together comprise the group, Mr. Team, yes. Okay. And, and we spoke about this last time, but what would you guys classify yourselves as? Okay? So we grew up kind of listening to all different kinds of music.
But I'd say primarily, were like hip hop, r&b and pop. But then we do venture into certain sounds on different songs, whatever. So if you were to use one genre, it's like, encompass all of it. I would just say pop would be really? Yeah. Okay. So not in the sheet. Oh.
So the thing is, like, you know, once you get the answer, cuz it's so complicated. Yeah. What would you define yourself as you start talking about genre? human beings?
define myself as flesh and bone? No, okay.
Now, the reason why we don't necessarily like going by the sheet artists is just that. It comes with a lot of connotations that aren't always positive, especially when you're dealing with like, younger people, and let's say non Muslims and stuff. And you say, like, oh, what kind of music? Do you make any say, the sheet or religious music? Right? Hmm. Unfortunately, like, a lot of people see religious music and stuff as corny, and you know, not up to par and have a lower standard and all that. So, we are we kind of shy away from calling ourselves a sheet artists. And instead, if people were ever to ask us, you know, what inspires you music will always say, Well, our religion Islam as
a way of life, and so we consider more like, were Muslim artists, or artists or Muslim and not necessarily in a sheet artists, right. Yeah. But I mean, and I did ask you this last time, I remember, but your music still is very much religiously inclined? Like you mainly talk about religion. Right? So Aren't you just like, Muslim gospel singers?
not really, though. That could be a new genre we could make
a Muslim gospel. Yeah. The thing is, though, is that
with our past stuff, that was true, they were it was like, very religious. Like we were in a sheet artists both lays out and we just dropped.
I feel like we've taken like, a quite a big turn away from that. Obviously, there's nothing like non Islamic in there are eight but like, we have topics that aren't necessarily like you would find on the sheets, like albums like the Ramadan song, the eat song of the Prophet. Right.
For example, we have a song called blessings, right? Which is just about counting your blessings and like,
what's the word?
blessings? Like, you know, like, I guess like, like, the relationships already more words, and you said
Good job. I'm gonna move on over here. No, yeah, you pick up his thoughts. Yeah, so that song, like, like you said, like talking about some of the stuff and also, it's kind of like a commentary on a lot of people's relationship with money, especially in like, you know, religious community, a lot of people they kind of, they see like, you know, being rich or being wealthy is almost like a negative because, you know, you're not as pious you know, you know, like that kind of stuff.
Right, where there's nothing intrinsically wrong with wealth or anything, it's just what you do with it. And whether you're grateful for it and stuff like that, right? So I'm trying to make some real bread, you just want to say so we say, like in the song, like, we want to make money, right? Well, whatever people will be like, Oh, you know, I'm not in this for the money. I'm not whatever. I mean, Mashallah, you know, like, you know, I'm saying, but like, I try to eat.
Okay, um, but yeah, so it sounds like that, um, we have another song called jaded where it's kind of about the experience on social media where, you know, you can be scrolling down Instagram and see like, videos of cats or whatever. And then all of a sudden, the next thing is like a terrorist attack or something, and the weird kind of emotions that you go through where so quickly, you're being fed such different information and stuff, right, varying like seriousness and stuff. And it's kind of a lot of times people can get really jaded about that and decide to maybe just, like, shut off their feelings and become like, immune to all of that. And so it's kind of stuff like that,
where, you know, it's, yeah, like, and like, blah, blah, said, whereas topics that a lot of the sheet artists don't necessarily touch upon, hmm. And it's not like saying, like, Oh, you know, we're so unique and whatever. But it's just like, we really want to sing about stuff that are relevant to us. And so if people were to ask us, like, again, like, you know, will you guys be in the sheet artists?
I wouldn't say that that would be the correct term to classify it only because of what the sheet artists means to a lot of people. Like right now. Yeah, but, but in a way, you're just like, consciousness sheet artists. Mm hmm. I guess you could say, yeah, materialistic. That was the word. materialist. Okay, there you go.
I know it's late. Okay. My brains not working. And already we use your word vocabulary. What's your word? limit?
Yeah, we're just going past what you're normally used to. But so I mean, that's cool. And I, you know, I think, for those people who may not be aware of your work, I think you guys are quite unique in the in the sense that you're also trying to, and this is, I think, a challenge that your generation is going to have I say, your generation, because I'm really not from your generation. I'm like, though, I look like you're right. Cool. I'm still
I'm still hot. Right? So okay. But I think your generation specifically is really helping to kind of carve the the Muslim narrative of what it means to be, you know, young Muslims living in this day and age, right?
what you're talking about and expressing is, is the natural progression. It's like the logical progression of where machines are supposed to end up going. Yeah, right. Eventually, it's not just going to be like praise music, right? It's going to be you know more about real life about things that are happening in your lives. But what was that transition? Like? because like you said, it wasn't always that way. It was more at the beginning, it was more kind of classic Nasheed sense. So I'm kind of like, going back to kind of how we grew up, where we would listen to a lot of like, you know, native Dean's and biega, Simon usif, magazine, all that stuff that would warrant your shout
out to the Oji. Yeah. And so when we first started making music, it was only natural, where we were like, well, they're singing about this. So let's do the same thing and emulate at first, right? And so like, yeah, so when we started off, a lot of our topics would be in the same kind of realm. And it's only really until, you know, they always say, with younger artists, where when you start off as young artists, your songs aren't very meaningful. And because you don't have much to talk about. You don't have much enough right life experience for us. We were like, what? 15 and like, 12 homeschool children. Okay, so my 12 year old? Yeah, yeah. So like, what were we you know, so then we took my
So the only things we could talk about is just like, the more standard stuff, right, but, I mean, now, you know, I've been, I'm 30 at university. He's been in high school for a couple years. And hopefully,
that makes it sound like I was extra.
Regular mouth of yours. I should have victory lap. I just went around campus. Yeah.
But yeah, so we have a little bit more,
experience a little more insight into kind of like the lives of like Muslim youth and stuff. So the way we see it is, it's not that we're coming like we were ever, we decided from one project to another that you know, what, this time, we're not going to be typical in the street artists. It just was very natural progression, where we just wanted to talk about things that were directly relevant to us. Sure. And because our kind of target demographic is our a demographic, we feel like a lot of people are able to resonate with what we were saying just because they relate to it as well. Right. So when we talk about, you know, certain experiences with like social media and all that, that other
machines would never really touch upon, right?
that resonates with them, and it's just us speaking naturally from like our experience. So that also leads
into what the album is called that we still haven't said yet.
Give us more information on the album. So the album is titled jam Tim j. m. Tm jam Tim Johnson just make up a word or last acronym. Okay, just allow me to express myself. So basically the whole five of
the album, self expression, right, all the songs we talked about are all the things we talked about in our songs are just, like you said, just what we go through. Sure. And just us and give me some more insight into your experiences. Because I know like, like you said, you have a very unique upbringing, in the sense that you guys were both homeschooled. Yeah, right. So you didn't go through the corrupted hatami public school system like the rest of us. Were Mashallah given a chance of having a pure upbringing.
And then now you've obviously gone into university. So how has that shaped your perspective in terms of your writing, um, it definitely gave a lot of the topics that other artists would write about a lot more context. So for example, I remember a native Dean had a song called them drug free, I believe it was, and I remember listening to that song. I'm like, why do they need to make a song about drugs? Because drugs are stupid. So why would anybody ever do it? Right? Like, it's very easy to not do it. It's only then when you're like, you know, are you saying you done drugs? I'm not
have any for sale? It's only that when you like, you know, you're in university and exam season hits, and you see your friends starting to get really, really stressed out. Oh, yeah. And then then you starting to see the appeal now and then realizing, well, maybe I shouldn't have been a judgmental 13 year old who was homeschooled back then. Right? And then also,
you really, I guess, at the age you're at now you start to process and really become a lot more introspective on the emotions that you're feeling like five years previous. Right. So then the like, you know, themes of like, let's say, like, insecurity and stuff that you have as a teenager now that you're like, kind of out of it. It starts to like make a little more sense where like, in the moment, it's always especially teenage emotions always feels like the end of the world with like everything right? So in the moment, you are able to like process and actually put things like to paper and stuff so yeah, it's just going into the real world. I guess you can say cuz we lived in
like, a bubble right for like, a long time. But you're still in the bubble. Technically. Well, no, cuz I went to high school for two years.
Welcome to the real world. sucks, doesn't it? Yeah.
The internet so Oh, four. So you're not really like completely cut off? Well, when we were younger, we really didn't have that much access. Yeah. Cuz our mom, your mom, and you, by the way, your mom, Mashallah, she did a good job. And she did something very hard to do. Yeah. Oh, definitely. Which is like, you know, like, I wish, you know, I would have had a chance to homeschool my kids and kind of give them that, you know, there's up to a certain age kids need that, that. That confidence that sheltering? Yeah, because the world is a very, you know, it's a very scary and corrupted place. Right. So, but we'll talk about that. I think it's an interesting perspective, because I don't know
too many. You know, guys your age that have been homeschooled. Yeah. So I want to know, a bit about that experience as well. But so now becoming, you know, more adapt to the real world going out into school and stuff like that. Let me ask you this. Who is your audience? When you when you're still you're making music? It's about Muslim ish topics. Who would you say still is your your main demographic you guys are targeting, um, I personally, laziness, I kind of weird, but I don't really believe in
targeted demographics for art, necessarily, because we've kind of had a wide range of people being very receptive to our music and stuff where you'd have like, small children, being like, you know, I love you guys's music and stuff, they definitely aren't internalizing the lyrics. They just liked the song, right? Sounds like it sounds good, like the bounce. Exactly. And then you'd have people around our age who relate to it a lot. And so they like it for that reason, then you'd have like, people who are older,
who kind of appreciate the fact that we're talking about this, and they kind of appreciate the fact that, you know, there's music out there like this, it's not necessarily something that they had when they were younger, right. So it's different people connect to it for different reasons. And we kind of tried to maintain a balance between all of that, like one thing that, you know, we kind of get a lot is, people people would kind of tell us before, which is weird, especially when we're younger, that like, our lyrics are a little too, like wordy and complex, right? Because they're thinking like, we're 15 and 12 or whatever, and we're obviously talking to 1512 year olds, but like in our
mind, it's not for anybody specifically so if the 50 year old guy likes it that is like sick like you know, like 50 year old man listening to your music. kind of creepy. I don't know. So this is the 15 year old singing on the on the Justin Bieber was discovered good is good music.
Yeah, the end of the day, like, it doesn't matter who listens to it. We're making music because we want to make sure that it's about expressing ourselves, right? Because I feel artists kind of do this thing where when they find out, you find this a lot, like, let's say with Justin Bieber, right? Where, when he started off, it was like, 12 year old girls, like his fans. And then eventually, it got to a point where he was like,
that's super lame. Okay, I want like 30 year old black to support mice and music in their car. why they're all down the hood, you know, saying so they're never gonna happen. Yeah, so ladies, but he tried to do a whole persona. Get that and then you lose your other fans and you seem fake to the new people. And it's the whole thing, right? We're like, if you pay too much attention to who you want to listen to a music, and you're just not grateful for the fact that people are listening to it anyway, regardless of who it is, then you're going to kind of lose touch with your whole you know, isn't it just like, you know, hijabi girls 12 year olds? I mean, hey, okay.
Hey, man, don't don't neglect the audience out there out there. And we appreciate you. Okay, definitely. Ah, bye guys have like a name for your fans. You know, there's like the the Bieber's or the political believers the most
we can come up with one. We're good 100,000 followers away from having to do something like that. Oh, by the way, when I saw you guys perform a Muslim Fest, you guys were like the headlining act like you know, you were very like the very end of the show. You have like this big and you have all these little you know, not I wouldn't I'm not insulting the fans, we have like a lot of younger kids are really excited. They come up to the front, they know the words the lyrics and singing along with you. Right. That's cool. Like, and I didn't really see that with many other acts.
And is it that you just been around for long? Because you guys actually have been around for a while. Even though you're young. You still you know, you have been doing anything for a while. Is it just the people have grown up with you? Or they just familiar with your work online?
We're very, like, concentrated locally. So yeah, like we've been around? I think it's going on like seven years now. Actually. Sick?
Yeah, six. Yeah. So you were like nine when you started?
Not that far off.
But not so like we're we're very concentrated and stuff. So you know, with places like Muslim Fest,
numbers wise, we technically shouldn't have been more of a headlining thing, right. But the thing is, a lot of people in the community know us like, they're very supportive, and they want to see us win and stuff like that. I'm really grateful for that. So they kind of put us in a pretty good position, timing wise, and then like, you know, the fans and stuff, they definitely did grow up listening to our music and stuff and have probably seen us perform in the area multiple times and all that so it's a different kind of connection than like when artists comes from overseas and that kind of stuff, because they've kind of Yeah, like grew up with us. In person so and so give me some
give me the backstory now. So you guys started performing. When you were very young. Yeah. What was the first performance you remember consciously remember doing as Mr. Kane, as human beings as young men? We always I know there was a third member your your older brother. Okay, who, you know, we won't talk about him because I think you're gonna be a diss record you're gonna put out? I don't want to I don't want to spoil that for you. I'll spill the tea a little later. Yeah, we'll talk about that later. Right. But I mean, as a group,
When was the first time you guys performed? Okay, well go back like 10 years ago. So you were really nine then? Yeah, pretty much.
Our community would have like an IID gathering and like some halls sometimes we have Blackie Blackie.
And like, all the people would just be like, Oh, you guys can see and Rob go do something. So me and him went up. Performance some native Dean songs. ourselves. We are covered band. We call ourselves a little Dean, little Dean cousins as well. They didn't do anything. They just looked at us. answers. Yeah.
My aunt gave me $5 after that performance, and ever since that day, I was hooked. That's why we was chasing the bag.
Five bucks went a long way. Yeah, it's like 501 cent candies. Exactly. You were like, no such thing as one cent candies anymore. The way they've been gone for like 20 years.
When I was young, we used to have one cent candies, bro. That's crazy. And I'm not I'm not that old. I was wild man. Like 10 years ago, you can walk into a like a 711 and you get like one cent candies and you just ball out anymore that's not even a thing. I know even pennies don't exist. Yeah.
Changing man. It's all gonna be like Bitcoin and I don't know. It's just a crazy time. So so that was your first introduction was when you guys were young. When did you officially decide okay, we're gonna start writing our own music. So 2012
As they had a talent contest, and our friends were like, yo, we're entering the process. You guys should do it too. And my mom's like, yeah, you guys are doing it. Because we used to sing around the house all the time right now. Like constantly, just all the time, I'll be super annoying. And we still aren't. Like, all the time. We just like do it around the house and whatever. Like I can't say for my life, but like him our older brother. We're just like sitting around the house. Right. And he do the rap verses. Yes. So we entered the contest.
And we tied for first, with lamellas bad.
mela Elbaz I can't speak right now.
So we got to perform on the mainstage Rs. Okay. And that was like, our third performance as a group. Yeah, because I was like, nervous. 1000 people. He wasn't nervous because ever again there he didn't appreciate you couldn't process the gravity of the situation. Oh, so
he didn't know what was going on. He was like mad young. So like, this is all like, oh, sick, like, you know, whatever. Right? My older brother I seen he was like, freaking out. I was freaking out because he was freaking out. I didn't my dad was back there. And he's the kind of person to get, like, nervous for you. And he's also like, super tense. And I'm like, why should I be nervous? Like what's going on when I'm just like, and he's like, Oh, look at the lights. Gonna give me five bucks after?
Um, and then yeah, and then after that. We got
invited to like a few essays. Yeah. Oh, a quick side note in that competition as well as most of the poet Okay, a lot of people don't know. And we actually beat him Oh, in your face most of your fate No, thank you live nah son, but it's just it's just kind of crazy to see like you know where that I think that was one of his first performances in front of an audience as well and right and he was kind of nervous in that thing as well and you guys must have all been there you guys are all really Oh yeah, cuz we were all like super Yeah, yeah. So it's just kind of crazy to see like how far he's come from like that fame like situations. Mashallah, Mashallah.
Masha Allah, Masha. Anyway, continue. Yeah. So then we got invited to like a few MSA dinners around the place, and utsc MSA was our first before Yes. You choose the MSA at University of Toronto. Scarborough campus. Yeah, go to rice. Now, Sonia. Shawn didn't want the third best of the University of Toronto's there's only three. So it's up there. Top three, top three though a man. Now. Yeah. And then we're like, Okay, what do we do now, because we're getting invited places, but we only had one saunter before, which was a cover of Forgive me by magazine. And the third lyric was swap swap dope for rap my dad wrote, which I could not wrap for my life. But you know, it's whatever. So your dad
was your ghostwriter
for a hot minute for a hot minute, right? And then,
and then we brought the name of Sikkim. Those are Andres on. Yeah. So at first, actually, we were during the whole risk competition. We were called. We're not a boy band. Just because I kept calling us the Muslim one direction or Muslims. And we're like, we're not a boy. backson Okay, great. So we were three of us. How are we the Jackson Five? black kids with more?
threes or threes? Right. So then we got Mr. Key, and then we entered the awakening talent contest on Harris. JK. Oh, okay. Yeah. Oh, so you're in that competition? Yeah.
In that time, sadly, here's what I missed. Here's what I'm gonna say though. Okay. It was it was not rigged, but they kind of knew going into the competition, what kind of person they were trying to get. So I feel like they would never have actually picked us but yeah, we didn't like you know, they wanted to do. Okay, so like, it was a certain thing that they wanted to do dark. Yeah. too short. Sadly, much. Ah, no. Yeah. So then we raised the top eight and there are 1616 big online so there's a lot of people's like, hundreds of people from around the world. You said Jaden was in it as well. Yeah. J Yeah.
Oh, yeah. House of hell. Ah, that's what I remember them. Okay. Don't Google those videos. I look stupid in those like I didn't know what in the old Mr. King video awakening records. Oh, yeah. There it was. credibly. cringy Oh, your dad was still ghost writing at that time? Yeah, no. So he was gonna get signed in as well. Yeah, probably. Wasn't that it was so dad, right? No, cuz the last time we performed was the first original song we ever made called only on the inside. Okay, song. Yeah, still slops today.
banger? Yeah, um, so we got top 16 there. And then from there, we just grew and generating more and more songs. Yeah, eventually our older brother left us stuff. So that Okay, so you know, we keep we keep like To this day, man. To this day. People like
Whereas the older brother, like five, it's been like three years roll, let it go. We've dropped two albums without
half years. What happened was that, you know, we never actually ever did an official announcement. He just kind of
stopped showing up. Yes, what happened is we performed a Muslim Fest, which is like August time, that was the last things we did as a group. And then he just kind of stopped performing. And then we came back at March. So it's like a whole half a year, right until we actually came back. So before we Yeah, I'm just asked to Yeah, because I remember actually, and I spoke to your mother about this, that I had contacted her about booking you guys for an event that we had. I was part of a community center at that time. And then she told me Oh, no, they're not performing right now. Yeah, I think that was literally in the middle of that break. Probably. Yeah. Yeah. So tell me more. I mean, let's
get the scoop on what I asked. Um, you know, it's funny, she says, like, multiple different narratives. I've been telling people. Okay, so give us the true one. So it's a mix. It's a mix of a bunch of different factors. So one, so he's two years older than me, and five years old and blah, right.
So at the time, let's say he was 17. Right? Well, I was 15. But I was 12. So he was like, growing, he was a little more mature. And if you look at like, some pictures back then it's literally like, blog and I ns seems like up here, because he was really tall. So the kind of I'm taller than him now. So yeah, so it always thought,
yeah, it always seemed like, you know, yeah, seen in his younger brothers. So then we were kind of like,
making the whole image seem a little more kitty than you would have liked. On top of that the kind of music you wanted to make was a lot more mature, subject matter wise, then what we could do just because we were still like kids, right. And then on top of that, he also had pretty bad stage anxiety and stuff. So you know, before performances, me and blah, would be fine. And
hyperventilating. Then he'd go up on stage and like, kill it, and then afterwards, he could never do it again. And then next week, you do but
it really is, I know, people that haven't performed or spoken in front of big crowds. I mean, it can really be a nerve, right? No, yeah, it's definitely it's not for everybody. And um, yeah, so eventually, it just got to a point where all all those factors kind of culminated to one big final like he's like, and also he was starting University at that time. Now he's starting he went to high school. Yeah, high school as well. I was trying to seriously focus on school and stuff. Yeah. School small, right. I'm saying like education. Oh, that's right. nerd out on the streets.
Okay, so so so he is cool. Okay, so he stayed in school. Definitely. So he definitely was a memorable member of the group. It wasn't like, he was a he was a head he was he was like, the the face of the group for a while, right. So it was it did seem a little bit awkward that the head was removed from the body. And another thing too, is that cuz he was like the lead singer, right. So when we eventually performed the whole time, I was the beatboxer. When he was like singing, right, I'd do some backup harmonies, and nobody knew I could say, like,
I would say, at the start, we could sing at the same level. It's nicer to be boxing, and he practices singing, so he got a lot a lot better than me.
So then it got to a point where me and Bella were like, We wanted to perform. So then Miss was coming up. And they were just like, yo, you know, we can form the award ceremony on this guy. I'll just yeah,
this guy next and then a sudden I decide I'm like, you know what, I'm gonna work on my vocals and I'm gonna sing. So then, you know, we went, we performed, it went off better than we thought it would, we thought was gonna be trashed.
And everyone was like, Oh my god, you really didn't know you could sing this whole time, or whatever and stuff. So I kind of got the validation I needed. And we thought, Okay, I guess we can kind of do it without him. The thing is, though, is that our image took a hit because number one,
people be racist. Okay, so unfortunately, our light skinned King wasn't there. Yeah.
You know, all the Arabs and the brown people and all that stuff. They they love they
made us a little more palatable for did they think that he was just like, oh, they thought he rockin or Morocco. They thought the whole time like they thought he was. I don't know him. He's much lighter than you guys. Yeah, he doesn't look like our sibling. Yeah, right. We don't even look related. That looks even less related than.
Uh, so yeah, so you know, and then when we when he was with us, his music style was a lot more
soul and like pop ish, right? We're, we're more hip hop leaning. Alright, so then the music that we made after he left, because I was as good as singers. I couldn't be like who and all that like hideout junk. So we would do a little more hip hop. So then we all of a sudden became a lot more black. Essentially.
Brothers Exactly. Welcome. So as people are probably aware in this community, it's a lot more difficult to be black, super black and get bookings and stuff like that. So places that used to get us
We're like, could you either perform your old songs or like tone it down a bit? Or really, you know, I would say tone it down, they still
like I say that
put someone on blast, don't expose them, actually go ahead and close them. I know people people are still saying, essentially it is like, you know, keep that down there.
And it really is just because because our lyrics never changed. We we never got any more waste or any any of that is just hip hop. And people get uncomfortable with that. Because before it used to be a pop r&b song, and then below would come in and rap, right. And now it's more of a hip hop, r&b song, and I'd come in and sing like a pop hook or something. So the balance kind of shifted a little bit. Yeah. So you know, it was a little bit difficult at first to kind of adjust and because we never put out an official announcement.
People were still invited us being like, just please, please. Yes. And show up, please. Yeah, show the three like the three of you. Can you guys come out here? Whatever be like, there's just two of us now. And it's been like years and still people are in our comments. Yo, where's your third brother? Where's your older brother? Where's whatever I don't look we look completely different from that. Right like completely like I used to have a mini Afro bow was significantly shorter than me Everyone height taller than everyone out of that you went from the shortest to the tallest. Interesting and so like, you know, it's just and also ever present while he was still in the group
and now performing we haven't performed for like six months. So everyone just thought we stopped. Yeah, no one actually because people kept asking that we kept turning it down right for like a while, you know, everyone's just like, okay, they quit.
And it was kind of it was kind of like what the situation was that you know, that was like right after the awakening contest and stuff and we're actually getting like we toured with magazine. It was like not right after but like you have some bugs so we had we had bugs and stuff and then we just kind of killed it completely for like so it was Yes. You know, part of the awakening? Yeah. There was all there. We toured with magazine around Ontario for a bit of a growing growing growing that we've been Muslim fest performance. I like what 5pm Yeah, and stuff like that. On that same year. Zane Vika brought me up to do one of his raps for him. Oh, memorize that one. And yeah, that
would Warrens be and downwards be native Dean and then be called it their song. And I was like beatboxing for that and stuff like that. Right. So that was the peak. We were going up and then he left and we kind of went like below zero. When we started back up what is below zero look like? We were trying to like it's not like we just as new people coming up. It was like, No, we were trying to build back up a reputation, right? That people already expected from us. But we were like, not because we're so different. We are completely different. completely different. But people still expected. You're like the Toronto Raptors without kawhi. Kind of Yeah, but not to say actually not
you're not skilled. You are very skilled. You know, how Lowery
fair to be fair, actually, like, at the time, especially with our first album. Yeah, scene would do a lot of the lyric writing. Yeah. Melody creation, production, like all almost all the production, which was like mixing and stuff. So he was like, out of the three of us. He was like, 50% of the effort. You put in a VFD? Yeah. 65 like, yeah, a lot. Like he did a lot of it right. And so what ended up happening was that I had to step up, like big time and like, learn how to produce. So he didn't even want to help out. He didn't want to like he was doing his own music. Right and really, but he didn't he didn't even release anything. He did
things for years. Is he is incognito. Is it okay. Everything's unlisted on YouTube, or was he making him? He puts it Oh, and like puts it on streaming services and stuff like that. But he goes under? Yes. Now, why is he is it okay, I never heard of though. I never knew that. His stuff is really good. Okay, but he doesn't perform. Yeah, he doesn't advertise till the anxiety type of thing. So yeah, makes music puts it element just leaves it. weird guy. And then also too, you know, like, sibling rivalry. And it's like, he's making his stuff so I'm like, I'll need your help. I'll do it myself. I saw like, you know, that awkward at dinnertime when no, like he Screw you, but he just
left us hanging.
Because the thing is, like, at first it was
it was like, you know, like, come on, man. Like Come on. Right But then we got it right because a lot of people don't see like the behind the scenes of it. And it was better for him like you didn't and also in hindsight, like we our performances are a lot better. That is more like a lot better because we'd want to do things and he'd be like, I'm not doing that. Cuz he just couldn't had like me want to do like skits on stage like beatboxing skits and whatever. And he'd be like, No, just keep it simple. We're gonna stand here in a line and we're gonna perform Okay, and that's it right? To step Yeah, pretty much yeah. So now that you know you guys are at where you're at. You have this
album you've been you've released.
Do you see yourselves trying to enter more of the mainstream market is that the ambition or the goal is to become more established.
Mainstream artists, I don't think that's the goal. But like, if it happens, then let's say Yeah, um, I feel like for us
you know, quote unquote, Muslim artists and that whole, whatever you want to call it
what a lot of us in like the industry kind of lack is that the music quality, and like just the general artistry is kind of not up to par with a lot of the mainstream stuff, right? And because I kind of realized that I talked to like, a lot of my friends who are like Muslim and but don't listen to machines and like, even like some non Muslim friends, and they always say like, you know,
they're not against the lyrics being wholesome or meaningful, whatever, nobody's against that. It's just that the music isn't that great. Like, it's more the backing is more Yeah, cuz like, if you think about it, right, like, a lot of the songs that are popular, they sing complete nonsense, right? And it's popular because the song sounds good. So then you could apply the same logic and be like, you can say something meaningful. And if it sounds just as good, the people who wouldn't usually listen to that would still want to listen to that, right. So for me, like my goal is, and I'm glad we've kind of achieved that with this project is that when I go to my non Muslim friends on
campus, I like Ryerson itself, and I'd show them the songs. They'd be like, Yo, this laps, right. And that would be like, the ultimate validation for you, because they're listening to all the other artists as well, right? All the mainstream, like Billboard Hot 100, like whatever, right? And if they think is good, then and they'd actually like, choose, like, add it to their playlist and listen to it on repeat, whatever that means, like anybody would think is good. And then we have a way to just make our music so much more accessible to everybody else, right? Because, for me, like, you know,
I see a lot of machine artists kind of doing this thing where it's, it's the meaning first, right, and
that's commendable. But the thing is, is that they'll do that and then kind of complain that, you know, not a lot of people are respecting their art or aren't listening to their songs, right? Why are you listening to Drake, but you're not listening to me? Hmm. Cuz Jake, sounds good, man. Like you don't like what you know. So when people when people kind of do that, they're kind of missing out on the fact that music is an art form, where primarily it's about the sound, right? You have the sound, you have your your message and use the sound as like a packaging to get it somewhere. Right? If your packaging is off, it might as well be a clip, but just with the rhythm to it. Right. And if
people don't listen to whispers and listen to football, that'd be a sick look. But oh, yeah, definitely stay for that Friday. Yeah, but like, you know,
so if you're, there's any like, like a some like advice, like upcoming artists or something that she does in his
writing the she's, it's very easy to hit a bunch of buzzwords, and make something pseudo deep, where if you say, war is bad, and we need peace in the land, or else I'm gonna be sad, or whatever, then it's like, okay, cool tech that is meaningful. And it can, there's a lot, it can be very deep, they had a lot, a lot of context to it, whatever. But like, people see through that very, very easily. And then if you're like, backing instrumental, or your vocals or your flow, or whatever, it is all wack, then people don't care what you're saying. It's like you can have a song with a free Palestine and all that. And that's great. But you're still making music. And people forget that, right?
Because let's be honest, at the end of the day, how deep Can you really get being limited by trying to keep a rhythm and a flow by 16 bars, like, you can get pretty deep. Don't get me wrong, like you get like really deep. But at the end of the day, someone just giving a speech and just talking will always get below
the lecture would always be worse. I know. Like even for myself, like writing spoken word is very different than like, for example, I'll write in a sheet like I've written two sheets for any acid stuff, right? And for me, it's it's very difficult to have substance when you are trying to write to a song. Yeah. Because there's just not much to work with you. In fact, you can't even use words with more than like three syllables. Right? It has to be very limited even in the way you say it because it has to rhyme as the fit didn't fit within this very tiny structure. Yeah, so definitely I can relate to that. I think it's interesting though, that you guys have you know, taken this route and
obviously it's it's it's something that you've been doing for for many years. Let me ask you have you do you guys use instruments in your backings? Or what like, What is your opinion around that? So when we started off, we were a vocalist only group where I would just be box he would rap my older brother would sing. And it was never really out of like kind of like a religious thing as why would do it because we didn't have access to instruments. It turns out like I could be boxed so like we decided that because there was a cool like novelty to it. And so naturally, like what would happen is that we would do that and perform them like when we make songs. They would sing and then I'd have
like a beatbox accompany me.
Find it. And then it's like, oh, let me just add some harmony vocals and then it kind of naturally evolved into being like an acapella song, right? And then what was interesting was that you know, because there are other acapella initiated artists around like this, like alias and stuff. And so when we started, we kept like pushing the envelope of what the human voice was, like, capable of in terms of making it sound as much like music as possible, right? Because we were kind of in this thing where, you know, when we performed, you wanted it to bang, but then our brand was linked with being vocals only. Right? And it was really only until like, later that we realize how much people
cared about things being vocals only, like you actually didn't know that was a thing really like. And then it's when like, we're when we put out a song and people be like, Oh, thank you for making you focus only it's good thing. You're not doing her arm instruments, or whatever. It's not like a good day, you're not being that harami like Sammy, you said for like stuff like that, and willing wait.
You didn't even realize there was a different option? No, no, no. Um, and so we just kept progressing with like, the vocals only stuff and it kind of got to a point on our last project where we would do like, we would take a sound like a like that and just break it down, add a bunch of effects to it, remould it, and it would sound like a drum, something when you go like, it sounds like a drum, hi hat, right? But all this different stuff we'd like do like heavy vocal processing on like, the vocal loops and stuff. And then we started getting comments from people being like, brother, that sounds like music. And then we'd be like, well, it isn't. And they're like, well, I
don't care because it's it has the same effect as music. So then we were kind of like, you know, well, what do you want, because we're trying to make the music as good as possible, with still trying to do vocals only. And it takes like, 10 times as long to make a beat, doing vocals only as it does, oh, you say like instruments. So we were kind of doing, it was kind of a lost cause basically, that we kind of ran into because we were doing all that it was a lot more expensive.
Only for people to turn around and be like, Well, it sounds like music anyway. Right? And then the people, a lot of our databases, well, we realized actually didn't care. Because
like we were we perform places. And we'd be like, Oh, just so you know, the songs are focus only. And then you'd hear people in that audience be like, so. Like, whatever. or they'd be like, wow, I actually didn't know all this entire time, right? So then it turns out kind of a situation where we were kind of doing a lot to kind of cater to a minority that was giving us a really hard time on our thing. And I used the analogy of like, you know, you have a
you have a vegan restaurant, right? And you have a burger, right? That's not made out of meat. But you try your very hardest to make it taste like meat, because you want to provide the best possible alternative, right? And then you have vegans coming into the store and being like, Okay, this tastes exactly like me. I don't believe you that it's like, don't believe it's not meat. So then they asked, well, what's in it? And then you explain and like so if you're using like arm for our music, they'd be like, what's in the beat? And I'd be like, well, we use vocal processing, use this plugin, we use that sound effect. We use reverb, blah, blah, whatever. And then they're like, well, I don't
know what that means. So I don't I don't care. Yeah, right. They're not they're not music producers. Exactly. So it's like if the sudden if like for like the vegan analogy, where they'll come in, and you'll say, well, the patties made out of like quinoa and beans and whatever. And they'd be like, I don't know what gene wise. Hmm. Right? So then how are you trying to do all of this and cater to somebody who's not even educated and the thing they believe so passionately about that, they'll do hate comments and all this stuff until you're going to hell, but they don't really know the details of it in the first place. Right. So it was this whole thing where it was stressing us out a lot. And
we talked to our grandfather, and he was just like,
to stop them, you know? So then we did the switch, you know, there was like, a lot of the times artists will do like a announcement video of like, oh, why I'm switching over to instruments and then they'll get like spare hate comments and all this stuff. And we decided like we're not going to do that we're just going to take vocals only out of the title and just kind of you know, put it out and we got some you know, backlash whatever it wasn't anything like spiteful or anything like that. I was just like, why and then whenever I read explained it and stuff, and now what's happening is that we're getting comments of people saying Oh, can you make a focus only version? And the thing is
that I always think when people ask that is like, if it was a vocals only version of let's say our song to face it wouldn't sound this good. Like, it probably wouldn't because especially a lot of people do vocals only like
magazine does vocals only he'll do like a vocal on the cover of another song. Yeah, but like vocal only songs don't sound the same as you don't think the sound is good. It's different and especially with hip hop, like, you know, we'd like to phase like a trap song right like sounding so you have a two weeks you have all that stuff. You just can't recreate that vocally and it's
Gonna turn into a different thing, right, it's gonna turn to different things, things like let's say, with like ilias.
He's able to kind of do that where his songs are a lot more melodic. So it's easier like that, right. But if you're trying to do like a 808, kind of like just speaker knocking kind of thing, then it's just not humanly possible to be able to do that, as you said, You spoke with your grandfather. And we didn't mention him yet. But he's the O g. So we got it, we got to show respect to him. And I think this is very important to also equate the fact that you did have some scholarly input, it wasn't just a decision, like a brass decision you guys made on your own. So your grandfather is Chef, Abdullah Hakim quick, correct. Okay. Who is, if you're watching this, you don't know who the
lucky and quick as you probably shouldn't be watching, you'd probably just go do something else. Because he's, he's, he's like our chef. He's like, you know, one of the founding fathers of Tao in the West is one of the first graduates of Islamic University of Medina, from the west and a wealth of knowledge in massive wealth of knowledge. So and he believes and is for what he follows the opinion that music is his musical instruments are permissible. Right. So that's interesting, because I think for a lot of people, this discussion is very black and white. Yeah, right. For some people, it's like, you know, it's either this or it's either that, but there are I mean, there are big shoe
big scholars who, you know, don't see any problem with it, especially in the context of what you guys are doing, which is still, you know, faith inspired music. And, and as an artist, myself, who's always, I've always stayed away from instruments, just because
personally, I disagree. And I do see the other side of the argument. And for me, it's just one of those things. I'd rather just be on the safe side. Yeah, I never really made a fuss. It's not one of those things I'll ever argue with people about, you know what I mean? It's like, people eat xebia meat versus non xebia. You know, I'm one of those homies, right. I eat anakie tab, I go to McDonald's. Right. And I know there are a lot of people watching who be like, no way, brother, there's no way it's permissible. And it's one of the things I've just grown up. And I've been mature enough to realize, like, Look, I have my evidence, you have your evidence, you know, I have my
belief you have your belief. It's okay. Like, we can still coexist. Yeah, right. And I think that's one of the things that even as a community, we need to kind of become more mature about understanding that there are differences. And I also think that what you guys do, although you may not see it this way, is a great transition for a lot of people. Which is it's like a backhanded compliment, because I used to get that myself. But I'll give you an example. Like, for myself, I used to listen to music when I was young, but it used to be like really grimy music. Yeah. Like, I'm like a 90s hip hop head like Mobb Deep NAS, like, that's where my head was. Right. That's what I
grew up listening to. And I remember when I tried to make the transition away from that, it wasn't just overnight. Yeah, it was like, you know, first I started listening to a lot of more kind of like old school soul music. I used to love Kanye West. I used to love the samples that he that he used. Yeah, so I used to go back and listen to the actual songs that he was sampling. And then from there, I got more inspired. I used to listen to a lot a lot of Afro beat. I used to listen to a lot of kind of world music. And then I stumbled upon
people like Sam Youssef, and a lot of different sheets that were like, surely instrument based. Yeah. But it was a great introduction for me to kind of feel like hey, connected, like, you know, this is they're talking about something that I would love to get closer to and think more about. And then from there, it ended up becoming like, okay, you know, I ended up not really needing the sheet at all, or needing music at all, even to this day. I don't, I don't listen to music. I don't listen to anything, right.
Just because I'm not really like, I'm just I listened to other stuff. Like I listened to a lot of podcasts, I listened to a lot of different things. But all that to say that
and again, it might sound like a backhanded compliment. But your your music can also be a major source of inspiration for people. Exactly. Especially for young kids and people who are, you know, they're already listening to everything. Yeah, you know, I think a lot of us sometimes we're in this naive bubble where we think we think our you know, our kids are, Mashallah my child doesn't listen to CDs and have a fee and they just go between the two, right? Yeah, it's like, no, let's be real, you know, you can't really hide from music. It's in the world around us constantly.
So I think there has to be, you know, outlets for people who are into that type of thing. Yeah, to at least bring them in, in a way that inshallah is going to be, you know, spiritually inclined. And like,
our goal kind of,
is never to because I know like with a lot of kids and stuff, when when the sheet artists kind of come on, they say like, you know, we want to replace your other music, right? So the first thing that they think is,
well, is your music as good as other music, right? They could start comparing, and the problem with comparisons is that then you start to see the faults.
The other thing, right, so then they start picking apart, the sheet songs and whatever. And even though it's like,
it's a super well intentioned kind of thing, but then they kind of pick it apart and compare and whatever. So like, for us, our main thing that we just want to do is that we want to show especially when it comes to like hip hop, it's possible to make good music, in terms of sound. And also not have to talk about the usual subject matter this there, like, that's not necessary, right? Because a lot of people, especially like, you know, in the religious community and stuff, they link the music style with the subject matter. And it's one in the same, right, so if it has an eight away, and whatever behind it, you're talking about some kind of grotesque whatever. Yeah, like, you know, I'm
saying, and that's not necessarily the case. Um, so, you know, yeah, we just kind of want to show people that, you know, like, it's possible and separate the art from the kind of like, circumstance, I guess you can say, of like, where the individual is from, right, almost like, you know, and it comes back to like, the whole focus only thing where people get so upset about them, right, they get so upset about that. I remember that would once we said, like, one time at a concert, where he was like, he had his guitar, and
people, some people were complaining to him before his show started that, like, you know, like, he had a guitar and stuff. And he was like, it's kind of sad that, you know, people will speak up this much about
a guitar and stuff, but then, when their kids want to play with guns to do all this stuff, like that was something that's a lot more has like an effect on like, the real world and stuff. they're okay with that, right. And it's coming from like, a really like, especially with like, the whole, like, black styles of music. So for that it's really cultural thing, where any anything like the whole, like, let's say, like, open drum, closed drum Wallah, stuff like that, like anything that has to do with black kind of thing. It's all automatically seen as like, degenerate and like grotesque and stuff like that. And I feel like
the whole debate, like you said, where you wouldn't argue with somebody about this, right? A lot of people don't have that answer for me. If somebody said, Brother, I don't listen to music, I don't listen to instruments or whatever. I'm like, okay, like, I completely, I understand why, like, I get it, right. It's definitely not something where I would like, oh, shame somebody, like, oh, like, loser, you don't use it, you know, say like, that's not it at all. It's just kind of like,
it's such a, I'm not trying to, like minimize the senior group situation or whatever. But it's not serious enough of a topic to warrant that much hate to be shown. It's almost like selective outrage. Yeah. Here's the thing, though. It's because it's a very easy thing to go after. Exactly. So they're thinking, Okay, what is it that I need to spread Tao about or whatever? Like, what is it? Like, I want to attack something or something like that, right? And it's just, you just say the same thing, musics wrong, this this than that, this reason. And if you say anything against it, then they just don't say anything back. Because that's all they it's such an easy thing to go after. But they don't
want to go after issues that take actual thought to solve and try to think it's just so it's such an easy target. Yeah. And I think that, you know, it is a very, it's almost like a scapegoat. Yeah, for a lot of social ills, right? We blame everything on the fact that kids are listening to music. Yeah. Well, I mean, the majority of Muslims don't pray
like that. That, to me is a major issue. Yeah, I know, that's like an epidemic, that we don't have anyone on street corners, you know, shouting about, you know, our crazy friends in the UK, you know, they go into their parks, and they yell at each other. Nobody talks about that. It's not one of those things that, you know, we get that worked up about, I think music and definitely when we talk about rap and hip hop, and it's linked to black culture, that is a trigger enough for people to say, well, 100% must be hot off. Exactly right. And really, people don't know the history of hip hop, either. They don't even understand like what hip hop originally was. And the fact that it was really
it was it was always political. It was always protesting music, it always came from a place of, of, you know, bringing people together to avoid conflict and harm, right? If you really look at where it comes from, and this is, you know, for the real hits the real heads, they would know this, that it comes from the same tradition you find in Jamaica, you know, when they have like, did they have these big sound system, big soundclash. And they bring out the big systems and, and they used to do that, so people would stay away from violence. So people wouldn't be you know, people are dancing or whatever, they're not killing each other. Right. So that same tradition was brought into the US and
you know, a lot of where hip hop began in New York. A lot of them were just Jamaican immigrants. Yeah. And they took the same culture and tradition and it was meant to be something that was you know, positive and uplifting. It didn't have the same connotations it has today. But, you know, again, that's a different discussion. But back to you guys. So being young black artists, do you find that there is a lot of that connotation within just you I mean, like, for
Get your music isn't like as soon as they see you, there's no way you got like this half Bob. Like, I'm saying, you got all this, you know, is it is it automatically like, well, there's no way this can even be Islamic to begin with. I mean, like for me, let's say with my hair, I decided I want to just lean into it, where I want to be like I'm while you're here. Yeah, it's like unapologetically, unapologetically black, where it's very true where like, like this one time this thing happened where we performed an event, okay, this is when our music was even more explicitly, the CDs I'm playing with the Mike Ross are explicitly in the CD. And
we came offstage and some brother comes up to me. And he's like, so are you Muslim? Wow. I was like, I was just say, our song is called Muslim in the city. Like, I was just like, Whoa, okay. There's no way if I was another race, that he would ask me that. It's incredible.
That's really brave of him.
I mean, granted, his other friend was very embarrassed. So like, you know, whatever. I'm not gonna judge but like, and what was the context of that? He just thought that because of your hair, you couldn't be Muslim or thought that like, he probably wasn't paying attention to the lyrics. So we came on, we did our rap music and did our thing and we're black and Lola, whatever. And he's just like, sorry, guys. What's up? Like, that's random. You know, it's it's so like, they I've heard of sisters like black African American sisters in the masjid. wearing hijab. People walk up to me, like, are you guys Muslim? Yeah. So what the hell else would I be doing here? Yeah, why would I be
wearing this? Yeah, you know, and so like, you know, with a lot of the places that we perform my, they'd be like, Can you guys not perform this style of music? Can you do this level of energy? Can this whatever, can you do a knot? Yeah. Do you know not? Do any not even know what a knot is? No. Okay. It's not the brightest tool.
And not as like, those ought to do like machines that are based on like,
yeah, like, I'm gonna pretend to, like, imitate one because it'll just sound rude. disrespectful, if I do it. They sound mad funny, though. Like, it's like, if you're not used to them, the way people like our love with them, though. Like it's a it's like spiritual music for them. They're like, poems, songs, you've heard it. You heard it, you didn't know what it was, you thought it was like a bollywood song. And they sound like that to me to my layman ear, right, cuz I don't know what they're about. And even, like, the thing that kind of triggers me the most is when they'll be like, you know, no hip hop or whatever. But then they'll bustle some kind of like always magazine or
whatever. And he'll have like, a full on beat, like belly dancing beat almost. And I'm like, Listen, like it was kind of crude or whatever, but you CAN bus it down to any type of rhythm. Okay, it doesn't matter what culture it is. So all it is, is that like, with magazines, like, let's say his stuff, where like, what's his What's his wedding song that he has. There's one that they love to play it all these events and even a wedding song is literally just flat out just a love song. Yeah, it's like and it's in Arabic. So you know, it's a little bit more it's Hillel, you know, whatever that we want to call it. Here. We want to do r&b, you want to do a hip hop, it's the same subject
matter if not more Islamic. But it's making people uncomfortable. And it's a whole if you want to know what's even worse is that what happens is when non black people
Muslims come and make black music like what non black Muslims rap. No one finds a problem with it. No One No one cares.
Except them to someone replaces because, like, the image is so unique. Wow. Yeah. Why did you pick that up?
So Western, it's like, you know, and so we've kind of gotten to a point where we do not care in the slightest. So that usually what happens is when we start seeing that people aren't our kind of having an issue with our blackness, we just go double time. And
we're gonna prove like, we're gonna prove a point to you, right? You go routes, you go all the way. Yeah, you know, and
cuz it's really something where, like, a lot of people will be like, oh, but can you just try to be a little more palatable, right? And my whole thing is, is that? No, no,
no, like, you know, if you're gonna ask me to come like you've seen our performances, you know what our music is. Don't ask me to come to an event, and then switch it up. Because, right, and we have a pretty diverse discography in terms of sound. So we're savvy enough to know, if you're performing at a wedding, you're not going to perform your trap bangers, they're gonna do something a little more light, right? But the fact that they think that they need to ask us to tone it down a bit like we won't know to do that, because we're just some uncontrollable negros whatever, you know, some runaway slaves who got a microphone and yeah, boxing their way home. There's always like, super like
backhanded compliments passive aggression, where they'll be like, Oh, you know, we'll real
cuz sometimes, like, what we used to do is we perform songs and like, Oh, do an Arabic? And then you guys have to feed into that thing? Oh, yeah, we definitely, we definitely got a little, you know, pandering.
And they'd come up after and be like, National Law, like, I didn't expect that from you guys or whatever, even though our grandfather's a chef. So like, we should be able to know how to pronounce some Arabic words properly, you know, and then even stuff like,
will speak in between songs. And there'll be like, Oh, I didn't expect you to be so articulate or something. And it's just, what did you What did you think this was like, I don't know, if all you guys are from the public school system, they don't, they don't know.
And there's a whole thing where, like, you know,
and it's very true, where I didn't really get it the first way, the whole thing, like, you know, black people kind of have to work two times as hard to kind of prove themselves. So when we're performing, we have to be extra good. Because, you know, it's my constant sound kind of strange to some people, but especially when it comes to like hip hop, stuff like that, if a brown person or our person comes up and does it, even remotely, as well as us, they're going to be praised more, because it's something unique, right? When we do it, it's not unique. When they do it, it is unique, right? And then, you know, we have to be on like best behavior, right? Because we're a reflection of an
entire race, right, everybody else is a reflection of the individual, right? We need to make sure that, you know, when we're on stage or not acting to biggity, or whatever and stuff, you need to make sure that you know, when you talk, you sound, civil, okay? And all these things where you need to be in like, pristine condition, just because you know, that whatever you do, reflects upon the majority, right. And it's this extra kind of weight that you need to carry, where it's like that thing, black excellence, where you need to make sure that when the next artist comes up, they'll be like, like native Dean, okay. And native Dean did wonders for us, because they trailblaze a whole
path through when we were coming up and doing our hip hop and stuff. They'd be like, Oh, well, they kind of like the native Dean guy. So I guess it's okay. Right? Even though we were a little bit more modern with our sound, the more like chat bass and stuff like that. They could still draw it back to that, so that, you know, there was a path for us but also need a dean is very palatable. Yeah, exactly. Like they had they had to do their own thing to kind of trailblaze whatever and then we're kind of doing it a little bit higher and that kind of thing. And then maybe the next person will go up next person they'll just be if they're after you.
I don't know what's left rather. Yeah, just be like yelling straight trap music, you know, be a punk band.
That's it. And they've had those in the past by the way. Muslim punk man, I wouldn't say how la punk bands or they've had like, Muslim rock and roll you ever heard about that? The enema? Like it's not it's not while a while ago? Like, isn't it in the US? Yeah, it's kind of wild.
No, but it's funny, because the whole Oh, black people have to work twice as hard thing. We were kind of sheltered from that being homeschooled. Yeah. You didn't know that black people have to work twice as hard. to just be normal. We know about racism and all that stuff, obviously, right? Like our grandfather, obviously, schooled us about the whole history and stuff like that. Right. But like,
a part of the reason we were homeschooled because our mom wanted to protect us from that, basically, like black youth self esteem issues. You know, we all have Yeah, exactly. But I'm still struggling with. Yeah, pretty much. Ah, she didn't want that to happen to us. So she homeschooled us, right. So like, obviously, we still knew about racism, we still knew about prejudice. We still knew about all this stuff. Right? But like, it hasn't yet affected us, and has ruined your core. Yes. Until we started. You know what, it's it's so real. Like,
there's nothing worse than I think being I mean, there's many things worse, I wouldn't say anything worse. But being a young black man in public school, I'll tell you just one quick story and just sums up my experience in school.
I was put in, like, remedial, like, I forget what they call it now. But like lower learning, you know, like they have academics. What's the lower one called again?
You're still in high school. Right? Cool. Is it? No, no, no, I forget. But it's like, you know, you have the basic academic and then there's like a step lower. Which is like for people that don't want to pursue it at a university level. Yeah, whatever you want to call it, the college level.
I was put into college levels. I never even had a choice. They would just see me and they would see my friends. And they'd be like, Okay, well, like let's be real, like, I mean, yeah, we know where he's gonna end up. Right? Yeah. So and that does a lot to you mentally, like a young guy, you just figure Oh, well, they think I'm stupid. They think I'm like this. So let me just be like that. Right. Exactly. So and that that self esteem thing. It's, it's real and it carries on into into the rest of your life and you there's a lot of like, internal like digging you need to do to give yourself worth, you know, to really make yourself feel like you belong in certain spaces.
Even from what I could remember, like my parents are immigrants, and I don't even speak their language. Yeah, at all like my language, my language skills and their tongue is very weak. So English was always my first language. And I spoke very good. And it was just a shock to people to be like, wow, you speak well. It's almost like the like, Planet of the Apes like when the
Like what? You can talk? Yeah. So and I think that your experience is, you know, being sheltered, quote, unquote, or being homeschooled, did maybe allow you guys to have a bit more confidence. Yeah, you know, then a lot of kids typically would have had and I see that in a lot of students actually who go to like Islamic school, my kids go to Islamic school, I have nothing against Islamic schools. But I know that we do a lot to kind of damper kids.
Especially, you know, black kids, I feel like we do a lot to really take away from those ambitions and those hopes and dreams by you know, especially in Islamic school, you know, there's certain rules expectations for so Walk This Way talk that way, not even Islamic things. Were just, you know, just cultural things that kind of baggage onto people. And it does a lot to your own self esteem. So, do you think being homeschooled has really kind of helped shape your personalities? For sure, like unbridled confidence? Yeah, if we didn't have that we probably would have quit a long time ago. Like, yeah, it's a, it's a strange kind of thing where, you know,
a lot of people kind of will, like, ask us certain questions in a way where it's like, you know, when we do a certain sound of, let's say, back back then when our older brother was there, when we do a lot of new songs, and like Arabic songs, whatever. It's almost like, how did you have the audacity to do that, like, you actually think that you're able to come up, saying, oh, what was the song? It was? Um,
Yeah, we heard that one already.
Anyway, yeah, he performed that.
Bear brown people and all that. And they'd be like,
wow, like, three vote like, Whoa, like, you're actually like, okay, like, cool. Whatever. The thing is with us, is that what we were doing it? We didn't think anything of it. You didn't know you weren't allowed to do? Yeah, we didn't know. Like, it would be weird if we decided to say in another language, like, Who cares? Like, you know, and, yeah, it's this thing where, like, you know, like, we just yeah, we don't have a lot of kids. A lot of black kids growing up in public school and like, in like, proper social settings and stuff like that are always forced to see themselves as black. Hmm. So they're there, their race and their skin colors always forced upon them, right. So it's
always like, you're black, you're black. So I guess what I'm trying to say is growing up sheltered, we didn't see ourselves as I want to say we didn't see ourselves as black, but like, it wasn't our identity. Like, essentially, if we were to describe ourselves, black wouldn't be one of the things that we put in there first, like three or four words, right? It would be different things, different things. And you find that a lot with a lot of other races who have a strong like, identity identity within themselves, right. But a lot of black youth out there, their identity is that they're black to you. You guys are like black privileged, pretty much. Yeah.
Like, you know, it also reflects in our music where we are, we make it we have hip hop songs, right? But the thing is, is when we perform and when we how we act and stuff, we don't act, like we're thugs, or like a gangster, like, all right, so nerd alive. He has a Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda t shirt right now. You're a big nerd. Yeah. That's official.
Like, you know, a lot of people. Like there's one thing that people do to just
the wrong way all the time is when they come up, and they greet me, and they intentionally do like a whistle big, cuz I don't speak like that. Okay, like, you know, and especially if you don't even you don't know me, and you're just assuming that that's how I talk, right? Just because they are they'll try to act extra, like, that will real swag. Yeah, we'll perform a little bit a bit thicker. Yeah. Like and then just like, everybody does, Matt. It'll be like a four year old, our man will do that to me call me bro. You don't call people bro found we know this. Okay, just like, stop. Right? And it's that kind of thing where, like, you know, you can just tell that they had preconceived notions
about you. And the thing is with us is like you were saying, We're like, you know, you get conditioned to the point where you decide to just lean into it. And like, accept that. And for us. We're just we'll go the exact opposite way, right? Where it's whatever you don't want us to do. Okay, we're gonna do that. Right. So it's like, let's say when we were making a lot of hip hop songs consecutively. And people were starting to call us a hip hop Act, which we are not, we're not we would if we would have call us just hip hop, right. So now on this new album, we have songs that are like
pop rock, pop r&b, just a bunch like dancehall, just a bunch Afro beat a bunch of different stuff just to make sure that people can pin us down, write us on like one kind of like, basically, our mom hated labels and show she'd never label us and then growing up now we don't like labels either. We don't want to be pinned down to one thing, right? So like, we don't like being labeled. Yeah, so we just do whatever. So I mean, when you were young, though, like, how did you guys identify? Obviously, you know, you had a very strong Islamic upbringing. Did you see yourselves differently from you know, brown friends? Yeah. Right out like we had. We had a couple of Somali friends that we
knew, but we didn't see them often. And besides them, it was just pure like Arabs and brown people from were like, just in the masjid or lasted the homeschooling community. Oh, yeah. So you so yeah, right. So you guys are part of like the Muslim homeschoolers network? And that's like, its own like secret mafia. All these moms and minivans. Yep. Just meeting together.
Yeah, I only had one. Pretty much black friend that I grew up with who see your brother
though, like another one, another one. Okay. One of my mom's friend's son. Oh, so I grew up with him. All right. move to America now. So now you have no friends. Yeah.
Just your brother. Yep. So what it kind of would be was that like, you know, we would always
in our home where we would spend most of our time, it would be this reinforced kind of like nurturing confidence, all that stuff. And then as soon as you step out into the real world,
doesn't matter who you with, like, I, like we've grown up being the token black person, in every single situation, okay. And then, you know, like, there's like, sometimes there'll be like Somalis, right. But then there's some Somalis who don't like being called Black. Okay. They'll be like, I'm not like you. They think they're Arab. I'm dark Arab. Okay.
We run into a few of those. Yeah. So, yeah, you're always a token black person, a situation. And then what kind of happens is that you,
you would start to become conscious of the fact that you're different, right? And it'd be this weird sensation where like, I would leave
a function with like, my friends or whatever. And when it had home, I'd be like, all the first thing that they always talk about is your race. And the first thing that they address about you is your race or this, that that little low, whatever, right. And then after, you know, you'd go home, and you'd hang on your family, whatever. And then, you know, you'd be deprogrammed. And then you'd go back, oh, and then the more you spent out in the real world, the more this is kind of like dawn upon you, right? where it would get to a point where, like, you know,
I had like, image issues, where I'd be like, you know, Oh, I wish I had like straight hair or this or that or whatever. Yeah. Right. You had straight hair. I wish I had straight hair. I wish I was later skin lotions, whatever, and all that stuff. And it's only come to like a point now where like, I'm completely secure, and all that stuff. And all of that just comes from the fact that we had representation growing up in certain things. Like, you know, our dad is a pretty successful businessman like computer programming and all that stuff where it wasn't anywhere near that he's pretty whitewashed, so it wasn't anyway, the
stereotypical black kind of person, right? So our first ever like role model of a black man wasn't what a lot of people have, right? where it's like, oh, athlete, rapper, this one. And what's funny with us is that we technically fall under the stereotypical black person where like, where music artists, right, that's a typical kind of like thing or whatever. But we really try to tell people that like, you know, first of all, we're in school, okay. I'm in third year university, okay, just so everybody knows this. All the sisters out there know he's capable of providing in a year and a half and he's in marketing, it doesn't count.
But not so like, you know, when people try to people always try to tell, especially like, you know, like the black innocent without, like, you know, this goes two ways. Either they're completely into the stereotypes, or they're like completely against it, where it's like, you're not gonna do anything remotely black. Okay. Our parents were like that a little bit where like, we weren't allowed to wear hats for like, I was like, 16. what's what's the issue with baseball? Baseball, baseball cap? Yeah. Why does it look real? Well, people who play baseball wear them, but they're white. No, everyone plays baseball. Puerto Ricans.
Here's the thing. Here's the thing. It wasn't just baseball. It was like just caps, right? Like, my mom didn't like us wearing them because, again, the homeschool group. She was a part of that she created us to like that. All of them are brown.
So when we go places like, my mom just didn't want us to be. Yeah, she was trying to shelter us from she didn't want you to feel the wrath feel the wrath of racism. Yeah. You know, it's weird in a way. But my son and my son has very long hair. Yeah. And my wife joke my wife said, Oh, why don't I braid your hair? And I told my wife, I'm like, I have I had absolutely zero issues with getting his hair braided. But I thought I told my wife, I'm like, man, I just don't want him to have to go through it. Yeah, like he goes to an Islamic school. You know, he little black kid with braids. Like, that's what happened to look you right? Well, yeah, my friend. Right. So, my best friend, right? Okay, one
black friend. Oh, you went it okay? for school for a bit, right? And he got a foe Hawk, a very small foe Hawk. He goes there one day. The teachers like that's wrong. He's like, that's wrong. You have to shave and tell your mom to shave it. He goes back home to his mom. And he's like, Mom, I have to shave it. At his mom's like, why? And then he's just like, just cuz he's like, I need to cut my hair. And did he cut it? No. His mom flipped out on the teacher. My mom was playing games. I wasn't playing any games. I left the school. Oh, he went to public school. Yeah, just like even like with me with like, dreads. There are not a lot of people out here, especially like these certain
communities with dreads. Are those really dreads though? Because there's some something else going on? There's like the weekend.
Kind of on the side? Yeah. It's so style. Okay. Michael B. Jordan from Florida. Oh, that's what it is. Yeah. representation matters. Oh, yeah. But yeah, so it's kind of a thing where, again,
it's like, oh, like racism, whatever. It's this cultural differences. So people will be like,
ah, but it is anti black racism that is specifically targeting black culture. Yeah, it's not like they have a prejudice against even any other if any other person. You know, and if, for example, we all adopted like Irish culture. Yeah, you know, we all just started drinking Guinness and you know, being hooligans, I don't know.
What it is.
Yeah, whatever they do. Yeah, we're gonna start copying that. I don't think there would be as much problem. Yeah, here's the thing. I don't like this. I don't like to. Like when stuff happens. I don't like to say like, Oh, that one person is racist. It's just this is how they were grew up. And this is how the system and all that stuff made them think of us Hmm. So it's subconsciously taught to them that when you see this, you react this way? Mm hmm. And I feel like that's what happens with a lot of the the police shootings right like Yeah, that one officer might have been racist, but the system made him think one way so when he sees a black man, then danger Have you have you guys ever
been in bad situations with police? No, not yet. A police officer? Oh, so are you good? Are you really are black privilege?
Yeah, let me tell you my first time interacting with the police I was in middle school I was on it was in the summer break between elementary school and middle schools from grade six to seven. I was riding my bike near my house and a group of police officers swarmed me okay I'm talking about like cruisers they all came around me and they surrounded me get on the ground through my I was riding a bike through my bike on the ground. They said we need some identification. I was like yo I'm 12 years old I don't have any idea like I had a library card that said even have like a blockbuster card I don't even have an ID right and and they and they told me that you know after they told me
that oh you know some some someone did something in the area and you look like the person you fit the description right that's the line they always throw at you and and from then on I was just I just terrified to police my whole life even though this day I'd be driving with my wife and I'll see if I'm doing nothing wrong I'm driving my car and I'll see a cop and I'm Dr. Slow down this is this parking here this is the weekly goes by right
so that that you know that that trauma because it really is a form of trauma that we experience you know growing up as black people in North America and not just North America and in all over the world. It's something that doesn't go away very easily. But I think you know you guys you know I really commend your family and your obviously I think it started with your grandfather really who's still that you know, that that feeling of dignity within you guys that you don't have to kind of feel
the same kind of you know, self doubt and lack of self worth that many of us felt but here's the thing though, it does spill over so like you're saying your childhood police like it's trauma right and like now when you see a police you get like frightened I still get like that as well. I've never had a bad police my uncle's a police officer when I see police I'm like, just in case just in case Yes. I have stories I've heard friends that had the same kind of interaction so it does spill over the trauma of course no no and it's it's you know part of the culture and yeah, we live in right and i think that hopefully inshallah you know your generation and and above and beyond, you know, just
like you guys are, you know, seeing yourselves now kind of leading a path for younger
And younger Muslims, I hope that our children and you know, especially those who grew up in this part of the world, you know, they'll be more confident and who they are and pursue that in in different capacities. It doesn't have to necessarily be music, it can be, you know, you know, math or science or whatever the case might be. But, you know, hopefully, inshallah they can do with this and still not forgetting ultimately that there are Muslims that yes, that's like one thing where we're really trying to work on with the whole, like, Jomsom thing where they just love to express myself, where, like,
a lot of people kind of struggle with the whole Muslim identity thing, right? where, you know, especially with guys were like, you know, like a lot of sisters. You're visibly Muslim, right?
Yeah, a job. So 99% of time. You're Muslim right away with guys. Like, I could walk down the street, and nobody would guess, right? So that's the kind of thing where, you know, because you can blend in so easily. You have a lot of choices to make mine where your goal what you'll do whatever, right. And we're we're trying to, we're basically trying to do is that a lot of people have an issue with lack of representation from Muslims, especially in the arts, which is something like with music, it's so visible, and it's so present in our like, daily lives, right. And
people will complain often saying, oh, why is there any Muslim representation? Why isn't do this? Why is it that but then,
also, at the same time, be gatekeepers for what is permissible? and what isn't? With under like, the Muslim better for the arts, right? So then it's this kind of thing, where there's such a clear, yearning for that. But then, everybody makes it so difficult for someone to do that in the first place, like whole thing like, oh, supporting local artists and stuff. Nobody wants to pay for anything, right? Well, then, how am I supposed to make an album money doesn't grow on trees? Yeah. Okay. Like, I want to do that if you're not going to pay the appropriate amount of money for performance or anything, right. And
what we basically kind of want to do is show people that, you know, within the music industry, within the arts, there is viable careers, you just need to work on your craft a little bit more and have higher goals than just wanting to be a community, the sheet artists, or anything like that, really, really try to like, you know, aim a little bit higher. And, you know, kind of take it seriously because I remember, like,
let's say with soccer players, were one of the things that would always kind of make me so happy and filled with so much like pride and stuff was when I'd find out that a certain soccer player was Muslim. Right? So let's say, what's the example? Yeah, it's
pretty big, like soccer player and stuff. But I found out he was Muslim. I'm like, oh, like really in that they'd like make do out before, like, the match was starting whatever. And it would make you feel good. So then the next time somebody would like, ask you, oh, so what's your religion? Or are you Muslim, whatever, then you want to feel anyways about telling them that because well, he's a Muslim, and people love him, right? So like Muhammad Ali? Did that was such a huge sale, right? Like a huge scale. And I would like to do that. And we would like to do that for like music, right? There are examples and some examples and stuff, but
it's very, like limited, let's say like, you know, how like Lupe Fiasco.
But DJ Khaled.
But then like, there's always some other thing that would kind of make people is he really Muslim stuff like that, right? And, yeah, we just kind of want to do that we want to allow, we want to, like kind of create a space where Muslims feel okay to kind of express themselves through arts because it's this weird thing where, like, you're almost not allowed honesty,
especially with music, where like, you will talk about if you want to talk about Oh, like depression or drugs or whatever. Like I say, let's use the drugs example, right? Where
I remember that native Dean song about like, the anti drug thing. I remember when we were open with with friends or whatever and stuff like that certain parents are whatever wouldn't want even our mom wouldn't want them. We weren't allowed to listen to that song. You weren't allowed to listen to that song. A longest time anti drug, sorry, you're allowed to listen to the fancy drugs. I'm like, what, like years later when I heard the song, and
they were telling us, I don't need to get high. That was like one of the cores of the thing. Right? So like, that's something that you probably kind of want to like here, right? And then, but our mom was just so sheltered. She didn't even want drugs in our mind. What's the drug? Nothing, nothing.
People will be like, what did I learn that like a bogey was a cigar cigarette or something? Yeah. I mean, I don't know. I
didn't know what that was until, like a couple of months ago.
But no, yeah. So it's, it's kind of it's kind of weird thing where, like, there's no room for honesty. And it's you can be real, like, like, let's say, for talking about politics, especially like Middle Eastern countries, right? You can be so real. You can be so explicit. You can be like, the children are being bombed and whatever. And that's acceptable, right? But then if you want to talk about let's say like,
issues with like, pre marital relationships and stuff, right? All of a sudden it's like, but that's something so much more pervasive in the community is actually would want to talk. It's taboo. It's just that yes, it's taboos, right. Like you're not allowed to talk about struggling with your faith in any kind of way. Anything that will be slightly anti religious, right? Well, not even that saying you're promoting acknowledge that you're struggling with that thing within yourself. Right. Like, and a lot of times depression and anxiety and mental health issues are very stigmatized in the Muslim community, right? Like, if you have depression, you are not a believer. That's literally what
I say. That was a very popular statement to make. Yeah, like, you know, a few years ago, like they would say, you know, you can't be depressed if you're a woman. Yeah. Right. So, and then what would happen is that these kids growing up, the youth would
like music and artists to strong, like, thing for humans growing up and like connecting with people through the arts, to find relatability. And to find, like, a connection with something, right. So what would happen is, they would be struggling with these things. And then they'd hear the songs, and all the other arts and the people in the songs would be like, be a good Muslim. You're perfect. I'm perfect. Everyone's perfect. And the kid will be like, Well, I'm not perfect. So does that mean I'm just hopeless?
Yeah, you don't really fall off? Like, what do you listen to some of these, like the sheet? I am not afraid to stand alone. What if I am afraid to stand alone?
And where does that leave me? Yeah. And like this, there's times where like, cuz I asked a lot of my friends on like, Do you listen to sheet music? If not, why? And one of the main answers was that they didn't feel good listening to it. And you don't want to people don't like doing things that doesn't make them feel good, right. And I was thinking like, why don't you like that? Why don't you feel good? Listen to the artist, because why? Because it makes them feel like, you know, sad and almost like a, what's the word?
Like? Yeah, like they're not good enough. guilty? Yes. Guilty makes me feel very guilty. And so like, with our music, we never do like a whole thing of like I am. It's always I'm trying to be, right. So instead of guilty, it's a feeling of motivation. Instead, we're like, it's something to strive towards. And I'm telling you the listener, I'm just like you and I'm also trying to strive towards it. I'm not there yet. You're a waste, man. I'm a waste, man. So let's, let's be less waste together. Let's be waste together.
But let's be honest, like,
every almost every adolescent struggles with their face Oh, even in high school. Yeah, like course in teenage years, right. And even even beyond that, it gets even worse if you're in public school and in places where everyone else isn't Muslim. You're just like, even in Catholic school. Yeah. I mean, the Muslims and Catholics. Yeah, obviously. There's a lot of them by the way. I know. Yeah. I know. I have a lot of friends who aren't the Catholics. Yeah, surprisingly, that's like the the lesser of the two evils in some parents minds. It's like it's
just as bad if not worse, because you know, your child has to go to Catholic school and like, you know, like, learn the Lord's Prayer. Yeah, all that kind of stuff. But I want to wrap up inshallah we've been we you guys give me a lot of things to think about a lot of good insight. If people want to find you guys online. What's the best way to do so? Where you guys at? Facebook? Monster team m ust aq em on Instagram is Mr. keema. Official on Twitter Muslim official knows who Twitter real unlisted.
We're trying to it's not that we're trying to YouTube Mr. Kim official as well. We just released our album jam term two months ago now. month, month and a half. Yeah, I don't
know. Again. You're getting old. Okay. Yes. Oh my god. 21 years.
So crazy yet. Gray dreads.
So available on all streaming services.
We have a couple music videos out you can watch that. Everything's on YouTube. Everything's on YouTube. And yeah, you know, we also have merge jobs jam shirts and all that we're trying to start a little team so you know, go for that
and final message support local artists so that wouldn't be what if they live in another place then you're not local support all artists that support us so yeah, just see what you want to see your money don't don't don't worry about them. Yeah, give me your money. Yeah, cuz I want it so they can find you online and they can download your album and they can purchase it all that good stuff. So it's like I'm not kidding guys for joining and I think this was much better than last time. So I'm happy that we screwed up the first time now we the other guy, the guy. His name is una. I knew his name is
very bad, bro.
Everyone repenting, he's coming. He's going he went to public school so probably the reason why, anyways, everyone's not gonna lock him in for paying attention and staying tuned in this episode. Hopefully we'll see you next time. Zack Lochhead Salaam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh