Muslim hip hop is infiltrating the world, even in Australia. The Brothahood, is a young group of Muslims striving to motivate the Muslim youth of Australia to be proud of their faith and heritage. On the front line of battling stereotypes against Muslims in the west, the group also struggles with gaining acceptance from the immigrant community that shuns music as a tool to teach Islam.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Why do you go by "The Brothahood"?
THE BROTHAHOOD: Well originally we agreed to call ourselves "Boyz of Deen" and that's the name we went under for quite a while, even under our former label IMD productions we had that name. It wasn't until we started to get quite a lot of non-Muslim gigs that we realized that the name sounded a little 'homosexual'
after one gig to a crowd of non-Muslims, one bloke came up to us and said "I like your music guys, but I aint gay", a lot of non-Muslims thought our name was "Boys of Dean" (Dean a common western name). We then decided we really should change it, plus the whole boyz of this and sons of that was goin outta style
We've all been good friends since way back and we always considered ourselves to be a unit of friends that share the bond of Islam, we always encouraged each other to pray, fast and practice our deen, and we truly believe that we are friends for the sake of Allah, so we thought the best name would be "The Brothahood", because that's what we are. We shouldn't be mistaken for the "Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen" movement in Egypt we simply call ourselves The Brothahood because we love eachother for the sake of Allah.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Where exactly are you from? Where did you grow up?
THE BROTHAHOOD: Moustafa & Jehad (G) Mozzy and G were born in Melbourne, Australia and they are blood brothers and come from a Lebanese background. They grew up in the ethnically diverse northeastern suburbs, comprising of mainly Greeks, Italians, Arabs and Asians.
Ahmed Ahmed (Double A) Ahmed was born in Egypt, but came to Australia at a young age. Ahmed is from the southeastern suburbs, growing up around the areas of Keysbourgh and Noble Park.
Hesham (Hesh) Hesh was born in New Zealand but also came to Australia at a young age, and like Ahmed was brought up in the southeastern suburbs. Hesh's background is a mix of everything; he speaks Burmese at home but has African, Scottish, Turkish and Burmese blood.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What are your main musical influences?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We have all have different musical influences in our lives, Ahmed used to be in an alternative garage band before The Brothahood, but also listening to Ice Cube and many slow R&B songs by Babyface and Boyz II men. Jehad is more influenced by the smooth Warren G and the G-Funk era but more recently has been influenced by the likes of Brother Ali and Mos Def. Moustafa, being the oldest of the group grew up on NWA, Eazy E, Ice Cube and many other hardcore gangsta rap styles. Hesh was heavily influenced by Tupac Shakur but in more recently has been influenced by classic rock groups such as ACDC and Metallica.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What inspired you to do Muslim/Islamic music?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We all met at a Muslim Youth camp, and one night the organizers were running short of entertainment, so they asked us participants if any of us wanted to do a little skit or performance for everyone. On the camp we all discovered that we shared a love for hip-hop. Being on a Muslim camp had us all Islamically charged and motivated so we sat together and wrote a track called 'Bow Down' we performed it in front of everyone with no music or beat box or anything, and everyone loved it. So after the camp we kept doing it and soon realized there were quite a few Muslim artists out there. We noticed our music was attracting a lot of Muslim youth so we decided to use it as a tool for the sake of Allah to remind people, especially youth, but more importantly ourselves about this beautiful deen and way of life. We hope we are able to perfect it so that it eventually becomes an alternative to the negative, material based hip-hop on the airwaves today.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What are some of the key issues you are tackling in your songs?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We have a few tracks that basically try to break-down stereotypes and barriers that we face as Muslims in Australia . Some of our tracks are aimed at a general audience, Muslim and non-Muslim, these tracks talk about racism, discrimination, and politics with an Islamic flavour. We have many other tracks that are intended for a Muslim audience, talking about Jummah, Ramadan and Nafs.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Do you feel that you are making a difference with your music?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We feel that our music is making a difference, and if its not then we hope that Allah judges us on our intentions which we hope and pray are pure. In Australia like many western countries I'm sure there is a huge gap between Muslims and everyone else. Muslims stick with each-other and non-Muslims are scared of us because of what they see and read in the media. We hope that our music is helping to bridge that gap so that non-Muslims aren't so scared of us and can see us as regular people then they may see Islam in a positive light insha'Allah.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What can we expect from you in the future?
THE BROTHAHOOD: Alhamdulilah it's exciting times for us man we have just finished filming a documentary with a production company who will be airing the half-hour program on mainstream television here in Australia. We have also finished making a film-clip to our popular track, 'The Silent Truth' the music clip is in its post production stages at the moment. We have registered our official webpage name ( www.thebrothahood.com.au) which is under construction, and we are in and out of the studio each week trying desperately to finish our long anticipated album before the documentary is released. In the mean-time we will be doing regular gigs around Melbourne, things are very exciting for us at the moment.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Without giving away any secrets, how do you produce your songs? What software do you use?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We've advanced a long way alhamdulilah haha .we used to just use instrumentals off the net and rap our stuff to that at gigs, but once we got enough money from gigs we started searching for a DJ or producer to help us make music and record. So now we have found a few people who are willing to help us, they mainly use Protools, Fruityloops as far as we know. Before that we were just using either instrumentals or our friend/manager Timur as a beatbox.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: How would you say you are different from the other 100 or so Muslim hip hop artists?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We are the first Islamic hip-hop group from Australia, so we touch on topics that no other Muslim artist really could because they are exclusive to Australia, and gives our international listeners some insight to what its like growing up as a Muslim all the way down here at the bottom of the earth so far from everyone
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: The Muslim community has been ailing for quite some time now (external oppression, internal division) what do you think can combat this?
THE BROTHAHOOD: We just need to look out for each other and look at the good side of things, be optimistic. I know it's easier said than done, but think about all the good Allah has done for us. Once we realize that we gotta stop complaining and be proactive. Take charge in our own communities, and learn about our deen. We can't change the world unless we change ourselves.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: How has Islam influenced your life?
THE BROTHAHOOD: Alhamdulilah Islam has influenced all our lives so much. We have all seen many friends come and go, but Islam has bonded us and we have been friends for so many years because we all share this love for Islam. We aren't all from highly religious families, so we find that we learn a lot from each other and we have an enormous influence on each other. Anytime any of us step outta line or we start slipping, we help that brother with whatever difficulty he is going through. Islam has taught all of us so much, we try our best to live our lives according to the Quran and the Sunnah.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What would you like to say to your fans?
THE BROTHAHOOD: Thank you so much for your support and your patience, we have been promising an album for a long time, insha'Allah it will be coming very very soon along with a music clip and a documentary. For more information and updates visit www.myspace.com/thebruthaz or www.thebrothahood.com.au
SBS Radio recently interviewed the group and unearthed what the these brothers are really about.
Listen to the interview below: