Kumasi Simmons: Illuminating Inpiration

My earliest memory of  Kumasi was an MSA potluck at Aztec Park in San Diego. I distinctively remember watching this dude with bow legs run a football through a crowd of brothers with a quickness that was definitely entertaining. Later he and few others free-styled over some beats rocking from a car parked in the grass. All the years that I’ve known Kumasi ‘Sincere’ is a word that describes him best.  His ability to live Islam so organically is a reminder to me as to why I fell in love with Islam.
In light of the release of his new “Gospel” album free to download on http://www.reverbnation.com/kumasisimmons I felt it would be a great time for an interview.

 Najiyya: Many of us have this picture of Compton from the images conveyed in movies such as ‘Boyz in the Hood’ and through lyrical expressions from artists such as NWA, Game, and Snoop.   In all reality, how was life growing up in Compton?

Kumasi: Compton is a place where you don’t have to many jobs. It’s called a hub city, it’s in the middle of everywhere but it feels like the middle of nowhere.  If you don’t  have a way to get there whether downtown, South central , Carson, if you don’t have a way together there you are just in that hub East side or west side Compton. You feel trapped and you try to find a way out of there, maybe through sports or gang banging or selling intoxicants and things. With that being the case Compton is a lot like other places but there is a big sense of family and a sense of if you don’t bother anybody then nobody will bother you but if you r looking for trouble then you’re  going to find it . It’s hard to escape trouble. Compton is an example of what people are going through around the world. I’ve been to many places and everywhere I go people know about Compton. Some places try to prove they’re as hard as Compton. Piru, Bloods were birthed out of Compton and now there are Bloods in New York. I think there are bloods in the Bay and the Bay prided themselves on not having that. I see people who are trying to be something where I come from and I’m trying to better their situation and mind by saying, ‘be positive, be an example, don’t be a follower, you should preserve life while others are trying to waste it.’ I wasn’t a follower. I’m a follower of God. My plot is to emerge from a source of darkness but be a light, if God gives me success. If people have one positive example it will be good because they see there is an alternative. If you have only seen darkness and have never seen a little bit of light it will be very difficult for you to choose. 

Najiyya: What motivated you to stay away from all the negative. Were you apart of a religious family?

Kumasi: My family was really strong. Religion was the foundation like a lot of other people. Religion as a black person you normally had the church that you went to and prayed over those who were baptized but what made it different for me was that Allah gave me the heart to be a servant. When you have the heart of a servant there is nothing that you can do to be able to fuel yourself to feel good because it’s not about me it’s about finding resources to help people. It’s not about me. I don’t know how successful I’ve been or how successful I will be but I know that Allah doesn’t need me and He will get done what he needs to get done without me.

Najiyya: How did you come into Islam?  

Kumasi: It was just written for me to be Muslim, to worship the oness of Allah and to be a servant of Allah. I’m thankful for that because no matter how I came around, I look around and He has made Muslims beautiful and He allows Muslims to have a lot of information about Him that I didn’t have in other paths of life. Everything was preparing me to become Muslim. My cousin is Muslim. My father is Muslim. I was attracted to the strength in Islam. I was attracted to black history. I was attracted to the Nation of Islam but then I realized the Nation believed that God had human attributes. I couldn’t roll with that. So I went along with my Christianity until I went to State.I came across some orthodox Muslims; Omar Ditona and Muhammad Yahya, I asked them to show me how to pray. They took me to Masjid Nur and I became Muslim that night.When I found out that Muslims worshiped God, the source and believed in the same Prophets I believed in, coming to Islam was easy.

Najiyya: When did you decide music was what you wanted to do?

Kumasi I never wanted to do music, I wanted to play football. I prayed to Allah and He made it clear to me that through music you can write your own script and benefit others. I can raise money or do a benefit concert for the poor. Music is just a vehicle to help people.

Najiyya: I know you have been all around the world, other than L.A. and San Diego, what other place has a special place with you?

Kumasi: Tunisia felt like home. People are going there on vacation in Tunisia while everyone is thinking Africa has nothing. Those tourists were from Europe. But Tunisia made me feel like home. Tunisia just had their revolution against injustice. It was beautiful to see young people ready to die for justice, not afraid of police, only afraid of Allah.  It touched home in that manner as well.

Najiyya:  Do you have any jewels for the young people?

Kumasi:  Whatever you do have a good heart and whatever your vices focus on getting grounded and getting in tuned with obtaining a good heart. Be aware of your patience and pride because they come in so many forms. Be patient, have patience. Know that God is with the patient.  You can remind yourself that God is with you because you’re being patient. 

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America Has Left the Struggle

I entered the world of Twitter to have an ear to what was going on in the world of hip hop. I used twitter as a tool to access information that would be impossible to gather by merely surfing the web, Facebook, or MySpace.  Naively I began to follow back anyone who followed me.  Bad idea. There was chaos streaming through my timeline from racist Towelhead radio to butt profiles. I slowly began to unfollow people as I saw fit.

As I sifted carefully through my timeline to remove all the riffraff, I came across a tweet that stated:  “America is comfortable and left the struggle, so hip hop made its home in the Middle East." As I gave this tweet the gas face I soon realized that this person does not know the hip hop I know. The person who tweeted this has no clue about those operating on the front line of grassroots organizations. This person does not understand that when it is said THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED, these words have meaning.Words have meaning and definition; to help us express and understand, to communicate and to be understood.  

We have brothers like Hasan Salaam and Immortal Technique who not only spit fire on a mic but leave Timberland tracks in the gravel of cities and countries that most would never bother to tread. The Remarkable Current family tells the stories and struggles of the American Muslim to audiences around the world. Mark Gonzalez, is a spoken word poet but also a teacher, who appears to seamlessly bring together struggles of the world harmoniously, allowing you to walk away with a song of unity in your heart. Although I've named very few, it's a start in the right direction.

The hip hop that I know is not about favoritism. The hip hop I know has ample love. The hip hop that I know is embraced all around the world. Hip hop is beyond racism, class-ism, ageism, or any other -ism. She is beautiful and unique in that way. Hip hop is an expression of the people; whoever those people are that embrace her. Some people utilize hip hop to document social changes while others utilize hip hop to tell a story. Some have taken hip hop as an opportunity to exploit others as a modern-day minstrel.  To find the hip hop that documents the struggles of the American people you would have to travel outside Pandora's box .com.  Hip hop and all her loyalty has never left the American struggle as I’m sure she’ll never leave yours. 

Serve the People

For a list of more artist in the struggle inbox me at muslimhiphop@live.com

Muslim Hip Hop on iTunes

Syrianamericana Omar Offendum

The R.E.B.I.R.T.H.     One Be Lo

Game Face      Kumasi

Recollect      The Reminders

Black Magic Woman    Maimouna Youssef

True Theory     Luck-One

W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) Pharoahe Monch

Children of God     Hasan Salaam

The Narcicyst    The Narcicyst

Long Live Palestine Parts 1 & 2 - EP  Lowkey

....more to come, inshaAllah

Ramadan Mubarak from my family to yours!!! 
Pray Hard - Du'as up
Please include our brothers and sisters suffering all over the world in your du'as. Allah has power over all things. Nothing happens but by His permission.

Best of the Beyond*Creme De La Ultra- Remarkable Current

A Complicated Relationship with Music

From the time the sweet words of the shahada had escaped my lips I have had a complicated relationship with music.  I too was the new Muslimah that handed over my stereo and tossed out my CD’s so that “I didn’t participate in the spreading of its evil.” I later discovered the world of qasidas and nasheeds. It was such a daunting task trying to find qasidas and nasheeds that I could vibe with, especially in the years prior to my limitless access to the internet.
                As a person who enjoys writing, music has a history of luring words out of me and rhythm has had the ability to move my pen. I can hear music and emotions that had not yet been given a word had a lyrical composition. Tribe Called Quest came out with Love Movement (1998) I could not fight the desire to pick it up.  I began to write again. I wrote for every tear that fell on the face of that young single mother who had no support and was forced to face the reality that her child’s father was sentenced to life without.  
                Once married with a growing family my music selection had to change. Having my three year old sing I Don’t Want No Scrubs (TLC, 1999) from the top of her lungs was no longer cute.  Busy keeping up with the responsibilities of maintaining a family spiritually, emotionally, and financially, music again took a back seat in my life.
                One day I was awakened by a fellow hip hop junkie who played for me Immortal Technique. I was enraptured by the arrangement of lyrics, the intense delivery, and production. He was my best kept and favorite secret. Online, I dabbled into music like a married man sneaking a peak at porn sites. I rested in the company of Remarkable Current by day and Poison Pen (Chino XL, 2006) at night.
                As a student and traveler on the path towards our Creator, I had arrived to a place within myself that demanded a rectification and purification of my heart and soul. I realized that the path to Allah (AWJ) was a pure one. Great attention had to be given to the influences on my heart. Honestly, some of the music I had dabbled into gave me road rage.  I had to consciously remove myself from the music that did not benefit me in my deen or encourage me towards good.
                Ramadan 2009 was a very difficult time for me. I dove deep into qasidas, nasheeds, and a lot of dhikr. I did dhikr until I felt high, literally. I needed Allah’s help so passionately that I stopped listening to music period because I feared that if Allah were to answer my request for guidance I would miss the call. One day in 2010 I needed a Mary J. Blige moment.  The song, Take Me As I Am (The Break Through, 2005). Again, this single mother of 7 wrote to this song for every tear, to the palpitation of every fear and insecurity, and exhaled a whisper, “Bismillah” as I was inspired to unleash any apprehensions stepping out on my own, again.

Najiyya Alim, 2011

That Beatrock Music

Two San Diego brothers, Off Balance and Archetype, also known as Digital Martyrs, have taken 16 selections of Beatrock Music and martyred it. 

The enticingly sweet remix of Rocky Rivera’s  MRSHMLO accentuates the power punches in Rocky’s flow. Track #5, Slow Down feat. Prometheus Brown of Blue Scholars and Bambu is straight rebel music. The guitar loop reminiscent to 80’s rebellious rock mixed with some head banging hip hop and Bambu on the mic is fire! Enough said. Blood of My Heart remix feat. Archetype of #Skynet and Power Struggle has the classic sounds of romantic Spain over a dope drum line and nothing less than lovely rhymes. 

Digital Marytrs Remix Betraock is the poetic stories of the people laid out over a California spin. I usually don't do reviews but this remix is a must have.

Luck- One

@strictlyBizz hits me up on twitter and says that I, @muslimhiphop1, should get hip to luckoneconscious.com. “What’s this madness,” I ask myself after receiving an inbox full of wackness. I go to the website and I’m completely caught off guard. I exhale with a smile. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this brother. I graciously tweet his web address for those who follow me to check him out. No more than a minute later I get a reply.

@muslimhiphop1 uh uh. Ur not getting off that easy ukhti. Lol. Let’s hear ur thoughts. Ha ha’

Then I let him have it! No, just kidding. His music comes together so smooth and his lyrics flow together effortlessly. He spits a powerful message without demanding attention. Some artists, to me,appear to throw a mantrum (no typo) on stage. His style has a sense of maturity.

Najiyya: Where are you from?

LuckOne: I’m from Portland but I live in Seattle. I do a lot shows in Portland

Najiyya: Were you born Muslim?

LuckOne: I was born Hanif Mustafa Khan. My parents converted in the 70’s. My mom converted in L.A. She started in the Ansar Community but then she changed and my dad also converted.

Najiyya: How was life growing up?

LuckOne: We used to climb trees. We lived on the nicest block in the ghetto. Growing up in New York climbing trees, my parents were very pleasant. We were poor but when you’re kids you don’t realize it. Then we moved to Organ and then we moved to North East Portland. When I got old enough to know what going on around me I got into crime but my childhood was pretty good. My mom is a nutritionist, my dad is an actor.

Najiyya: I know your dad was an on again off again musician and I can imagine that it had a significant influence on your music, did you take on any instruments yourself outside of Hip Hop?

LuckOne: I used to play the saxophone and now I got a guitar and I kind of mess around with that. I do the clarinet a little bit. I was in the Metropolitan Music Symphony for 7 years. I did pretty well. I regularly used sheet music. When I began to live with my mom I really started rapping.

Najiyya: Do you contribute to the production of your beats?

LuckOne: I don’t make beats but because I have a music background I do a lot of arranging.

Najiyya: Your last EP went to Haiti?

LuckOne: Yes the first one did

Najiyya: Who were your musical influences?

LuckOne: Rakim, Nas, Yuckmouth, so many, I get inspired by many new rappers all the time. Musically I am really inspired by the classical music that I used to play. For example how there are different movements and the horns, how there’s a dark side. I’m really picky about beats. Dudes will send me beats and he told me I was the biggest beat critic in the whole free world. He will send me 20 beats and I won’t like any of them or I’ll like the first one and won’t write a whole song to it. I want the music to sound like a song in itself before I rap on it. I demand a lot from the producers I work with. True Theory took a look time to put together, a long time. You know how the Prophet Muhammad (saws) says things three times to emphasize it? Let me say it again, it took a long time to put this together.

Najiyya: How long did True Theory take to write?

LuckOne: 2 years

Najiyya: Do you think your time incarcerated had an influence on your music?

LuckOne: It’s one of things where the experience of being incarcerated taught me a lot. Prison says that you can have a T.V. in your room but experience makes life vibrant. I like to make my music an experience. I didn’t like Tupac until I got locked up. And one day I was like ‘yo did he just say huggin’ on my mama from a jail cell? This dude is a genius!’ The most impactful art is the art that gives you an emotion. Tupac gives me an emotion. When you listen to it you feel a certain way because he is giving you an experience. It really influenced me. So I tried to make each song more than just a song but an experience. It’s not just me rapping. I want it to be something greater than that. I hope that answers your question.

Najiyya: From your pieces what song touches you the most?

LuckOne: I would say “The real me” because the second verse is the true story of me and my celly. The “I believe” remix because that was all very personal. Songs like Palestine and Monotheism are dubbed to me, but as far as songs that are meaningful to me those are the ones that are most personal. Whenever I do “I believe” today, I get chills because it’s exactly how I feel. It’s one of those songs that people can relate to it no matter what their background is. Some criticize my music saying that I shout too much but I feel that the message and the subject matter is very urgent. If I was to do the song “Resistance” and say, “Hey, this is resistance” (in a surfer voice) it would be unbelievable. I was reading Ghandi when I wrote that. They were very urgent ideas that I felt people needed to hear.

You can hear some these ideas at http://www.luckoneconscious.com/ . This album will not disappoint.

Beatrock Music and Digital Martyrs Present:

March 29th, 2011
Beatrock Music and Digital Martyrs Present:

More Free Beatrock Music Downloads: http://beatrockmusic.com/?page_id=1954

Power Struggle - "ArtOfficialFreedom Digital Martyrs Remix" Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFSkWyBRNLw

Beatrock Music and Digital Martyrs proudly present Digital Martyrs Remix Beatrock, a free album available at beatrockmusic.com.

From Boom-Bap to Dubstep, using dusty samples to digital pulses, Digital Martyrs breathe new life into the songs of BambuPower StruggleRocky RiveraOtayo DubbKiwi and The CounterParts. Hear Beatrock Music like you've never heard before on this 16 track remix compilation which also features a few emcees from the Digital Martyrs/#Skynet camp. Mikial (#Skynet), Task1ne (#Skynet), and Digital Martyrs' own Archetype all go in on this project to make it one of the most dynamic releases from Beatrock Music to date. Artwork by Mark Canto (markcanto.com).

Crème De La ULTRA

- Crème De La ULTRA -

'The Best of the Beyond'

“I don't care much about music. What I like are sounds." -Dizzy Gillespie

Producer Anas Canon, founder & artistic director of Remarkable Current, and Azeem,

one of America's celebrated wordsmiths have united forces to create the super group

known as...

Crème De La ULTRA

'The Best of the Beyond'



New Performance Video Release from CDLU!

A rooftop performance from the new Super Duo,
'Strange Love'
... from their highly anticipated debut album 'The Best of the Beyond'...




What's Next For Remarkable Current . . .


Creme De La Ultra Web Resources:

Click Here To Join CDLU on FaceBook




 Friday, April 1 at 1:00pm - April 3 at 5:00pm


Boston Marriot Cambridge

Two Cambridge Center, 50 Broadway

Cambridge, MA

Wisam Sharieff (Confirmed)

Altaf Husain (Confirmed)

Khalid Latif (Confirmed)

Taha Abdul-Basser (Confirmed)

Faisal Matadar (Confirmed)

Omer Bajwa (Confirmed)

Boonaa Mohammed



Preacher Moss

Digital Martyrs

I am always receiving new music in my inbox and email, but when I downloaded Digital Martyrs I was immediately hooked. Their beats are reminiscent of B-boy battle grounds and lyrics that demand freedom, not less oppression. I appreciate the clean delivery of their message permitting my tribe to enjoy their music as well.

Najiyya: Where are you from, and where do you reside now?
Digital Martyrs: We are originally from San Diego California. Today, we reside in the Bay Area

Najiyya: How did Digital Martyrs come together?
Digital Martyrs: Digital Martyrs came together naturally. See we’re brothers and we both had an interested in music in general. Off Balance produces and the Archetype does all the talking. Back in the day, though, both of us were into all the facets of music production, from vocals to production. We just picked our spots and knew each other’s role. And thus, came the Digital Martyrs

Najiyya: How long has the group been together?
Digital Martyrs: The group has been active since 2001. However, we’ve been making music since the mid nineties.

Najiyya: Who were some of your musical influences?
Digital Martyrs: Our musical influences are so vast that it would literally take a whole other separate interview listing down who inspires us. Sounds pretty cliché, right? To give you the short version, we’re influenced by musicians of all types, from Max Romeo and the Upsetters to Sage Francis, Brother Ali, Mos Def, Portishead, Stylistics, Gil Scott Heron, Theloneous Monk, and a slew of others.

Najiyya: For me, your music reflects many different aspects of the struggles in living life, as a Muslim, as a Filipino, as an American. What is/are the message(s) that you want your audience to wake up to when listening to your music?
Digital Martyrs: The ultimate message is to fight back what is oppressing you. As Filipino Muslim Americans, we know all too well what is front of us and what we have to do to move forward. We take a never say die attitude with our music.

Najiyya: Are active in your community?
Digital Martyrs: We have done rallies, workshops, and held an open stage, open mic setup for the youth to get what they need to get off of their chests. Most recently, we did an Egyptian rally at Napa Valley College. We spoke about the situation in Northern Africa, to the situation in the Middle East.
Najiyya: Where can the people get a copy of your album?
Digital Martyrs: We’re always posting new music on our website, www.digitalmartyrs.com. Look for us on sound cloud and band, too. Currently we’re putting together an album that will be released later this year.

Najiyya: What is your contact/booking information?
Digital Martyrs: digitalmartyrs@gmail.com facebook.com/digitalmartyrs @digitalmartyrs on twitter.

Click to listen:
J Dilla Tribute
Sweetest Fruit- Mos Def, Baraka Blue, Digital Martyrs
"F*ck You, Pay Me"

Hasan Salaam 2011

It has been a few years since I last contacted Hasan Salaam. Just a few weeks after posting my blog entry, “Hasan Salaam: 2009,” he began “Hasan Salam: Life in Black and White,” a video blog which you can find on youtube, simplyflow.com, and hasansalaammusic.com. In these webisodes you are able to see a few aspects of his life outside of being an artist and performing. Also in 2009 ‘Mohammad  Dangerfield’ was a project in progress. February 22, 2011 that project is a reality.

It’s not hard to get in contact with my brother Hasan. I simply tweeted @Hasansalaam letting him know I wanted to put him on my menu. He then replied, “Of course!”  Between both of our busy schedules it took about a week to schedule a good time to talk. Meanwhile my mind buzzed with questions to ask and questions to keep to myself.  Finally it was time. I got the text from the man. Five minutes later I received the call. I greeted him with ‘salams’ and when he returned the greeting in his big voice all 5 feet of me became nervous like never before, but hey, the show must go on…

Najiyya: What made you start doing the video blog?
Hasan Salaam: Basically the video blog “Hasan Salaam: Life in Black and White” was to keep people informed as to what I was doing, not just music stuff all the time, but life in general. Sometimes people want to put me in a box. I can’t live in a box. Music and all that is who I am, but there are also a lot of aspects to me and that’s what I want people to see.

Najiyya: You say that you don’t want to be painted into a box. What box did you perceive yourself being painted into?
Hasan Salaam: That "conscious" rapper no fun, holier than thou box. I’m an MC. I deal with all aspects of life. I'm far from holy. I’m a man.  I do good things and bad, inshAllah the good outweighs the bad. I'm striving for the best. It’s like people build artists up on pedestals they themselves know is an impossible place to maintain so then they can destroy the pedestal on some “I told you so,” shit.

Najiyya: In your video the audience sees an immediate response to your experience of Goree Island and West Africa, after digesting this trip and looking back on it now what are your thoughts and feelings?
Hasan Salaam: Goree Island still affects me the same way. I think our generation has dropped the ball in regards to African American progress for the most part. We kill ourselves and promote self hatred as if we agree with our enemies now. The sacrifices of our ancestors were not for us to destroy all they built for us.

Najiyya: Arrogance is a serious illness of the heart and I've seen it on those with less press than you. How do you stay grounded? What advice would you give younger artist that are coming up to avoid that nonsense?
Hasan Salaam: All of my ups and downs, trials and tribulations have only proven to me that Allah, God, The Universe is one. You can make a billion dollars but what we all do affects one another. You might not see it now, but what goes around defiantly comes back around. Treat others how you would want to be treated.

Najiyya: Mohammad Dangerfield and Rugged N Raw.  Rugged N Raw is hilarious, where did you two meet?
Hasan Salaam: Rugged N Raw and I had worked with a bunch of mutual people 6 or 7 years ago. We were on a record together before we even met each other.  We did so many shows together we were like we should do a whole album together and that’s how Mohammad Dangerfield came together.

Najiyya: If each album is a story, what is the story of Mohammad Dangerfield?
Hasan Salaam: The Mohammad Dangerfield album is the story of two different artists/brothers dealing with the struggles of life. It’s like a barbershop conversation or one of those days sitting on the park bench shootin’ the shit.

Najiyya: Another solo album soon?
Hasan Salaam: “Life in Black and White” is the next album, an EP, and some free material will be out also.

To purchase your copy of Mo’Dangerfield go to: