Play Yusuf Abdul-Mateen
Muslim MC Yusuf Abdul-Mateen is one-half of the elite Boston unit Blak Madeen.Born in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts to an Irish-American family in the late 70s, Yusuf's passion for hip hop culture was developed while attending a Catholic high school in Lawrence, MA. His interest in music was only superseded by his interest in Islam, which he started reading about as a child. He finally converted to Islam in 2003. By then his recording career had already begun but now his lyrics would take on a spiritual and political edge. His calm, dead-pan delivery consists of powerful words and contain a message with every song.
Yusuf and his partner Al-J deliver much-needed positivity and realism in a time when negative stereotypes ruin hip-hop culture. In a few short years, Yusuf and Al-J have recorded songs with members of legendary groups such as Wu-Tang Clan, Brand Nubian and Sunz of Man. They have also shared the stage with the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Brother Ali and Cormega, to name a few. In January 2008, the duo released their debut mixtape "The Opening", and are set to release their debut full-length album "The Sacred Defense" in early 2009. The album, completely free of cursing and negative references to sex, drugs and violence, features guest appearances from Lord Jamar, Hell Razah, Reef the Lost Cauze, REKS and more. Yusuf has already begun work on a solo project, tentatively titled "Fear of a White Muslim", which will feature multiple collaborations with fellow Muslim lyricists.
"The media today paints a negative picture of Muslims, but hip hop and Islam have always had a good marriage," said Yusuf, who currently works as youth counselor for emotionally troubled teens. "This is music that gives a platform for ideas which might otherwise go unheard. Hip-hop gets a lot of credit for bringing cultures together, but Islam has been doing that for 1,400 years".