Q. 1. First off thank you for this interview. If possible could you give us your thoughts on our magazine “I Am Hip-Hop”?
I dig the site. It speaks to the Hip-Hop heads that aren’t selling out or buying in to the corporate mags and sites. It’s important to have unique voices across the culture and a place where revolutionary minds can build, get the word out and share dope music. I fucks with it!
Q. 2. As a rapper you seemed to have made a conscious choice to rap about issues that affect people on a daily basis, such as political, personal and historical, when so many “mainstream” rappers seem to rap about money, cars, clothes etc. Why and how did you get to this choice?
I’m just being me. I was raised that no matter what you do you have to give back to your community. The music I was raised on spoke to the people, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Stevie Wonder. I have nothing against other rappers, they rap about what’s important to them or their lives, all i can do is be the best me yah dig. I don’t think all musicians should do the same shit or rap about the same things, I like variety. People have a revisionist version of Hip-Hop history most of the time, there has always been materialism, it’s just hip-hop is pop music now so it’s more aligned with corporations and its force fed 24⁄7, but its always been that way cause people wanna be fly and look good. I write about what I know, what I do and what I’m into, I wanna talk to peoples souls and move them. I make Hip-Hop Soul music.
Q. 3. Who have been your main influences thought out your music career?
My music is a gumbo, I love all types of music so there are all types of influences in there. John Coltrane, Redman, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Rakim, Jimi Hendrix, Wu-Tang, Jay‑Z, Sam Cooke, Stax Records, Al Green, Chuck Berry, Guns N Roses, Snoop, The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Gil Scott Heron, Sade, I could go on. My iPod is heavy!
Q. 4. How much influence over you music does being Muslim have?
Islam has had an influence on my life and my music is a reflection of my existence. My Mother and Grandmother are Christian, I have Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu friends and family members. I studied philosophy in school and on my own. Learning about all faiths and philosophies, building with others, finding what i agree and disagree with, similarities and differences influence my outlook on the world, if that wasn’t all added into my lyrics I wouldn’t be me.
Q. 5. You work with troubled youth, and run a monthly food and clothing drive in Jersey City, New Jersey. Can you talk a little about this project?
It’s not just me, there is a group of dedicated brothers and sisters who have contributed for the past 7 years to keep this happening. Every 3rd Sunday of the month we do a food & clothing drive on MLK Drive & Grant Ave. in Jersey City NJ. No organization or agendas, just people who care about people and want to make the situation better. We set up a table or have even laid out blankets on the corner and given away clothes, toys, books, household appliances, pampers, non perishable food items and anything else people needed. We have been getting donations from people all over and thats what keeps it going.
Q. 6. You have also set up a project called “It Takes A Village” for the village in Djati, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. To people that may not have heard of it yet, could you explain the link between this project and your latest album “Music Is My Weapon” and the aims of the project”
All of the profits from Music Is My Weapon have gone to build a school & fresh water well in Djati a small village 3 hrs outside of the Capital of Bissau in Guinea Bissau, West Africa. We have just reached the next phase in our fund raising to build a medical facility there as well. Honestly it is the best thing I have been a part of musically. Not just the sound but the purpose. The album is amazing music with great features, Reef The Lost Cause, Eternia, Baron of Red Clay, Range, CF & Snowgoons. My brother Raj Flow did the videos, he also had traveled with me to Senegal & Guinea Bissau 2 years ago to conduct youth writing workshops at a S.O.S. Village and rock. I was the 1st American Hip-Hop artist to ever perform out there, it was an honor & i loved the people and the land. It started with Austin Dacey asking me to be a part of the Impossible Music Sessions where I interpreted the music of The Baloberos Crew from GB who made a song titled “7 Minutes of Truth” attacking their corrupt government and had gotten snatched up by the military police out there. A few months later Shivani & Hip-Hop Harmony worked on getting up out to West Africa and we got to build with Cobiana Records & Baloberos. Ms. Devon Austin reached out to us about being a part of the It Takes A Village initiative and it truly has been a blessing every step of the way.
Q. 7. Lastly what can we expect from Hasan Salaam in the near future?
My next album ‘Life In Black & White’ will be good to go soon, its my most personal work to date. Besides more shows I have also been traveling the country going to Universities & Colleges giving my lecture “From The Spirituals To Hip-Hop: Black Music’s Socio-Political Importance in America, and getting involved in all types of rachet behavior & wild shit so you can expect the unexpected. My life is art and the world is my canvas. I appreciate yall interviewing me for the site, peace to all the true supporters reading this! Walk On Water
@HasanSalaam on twitter & instagram
Interview by Arash Sharifi
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