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Mecca2Medina is the UK's hottest Muslim rap and raggae group...hands down. They have been performing at many Islamic functions and nasheed events for years. They took some time out from their busy schedule to have an exclusive interview with MuslimHipHop.com.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Where did you guys grow up?
MECCA2MEDINA: We all grew up in London England. We lived in different parts of London we all came together because we study with the same Sheikh.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What was your inspiration to become MCs?
MECCA2MEDINA: I, Rakin, have been an MC since the early 80's I got into Hip Hop music as soon as it hit these shores. I was first involved in breaking and then later got into rapping. I loved tunes like Grand Master Flash, “white lines” and Run DMC "King of Rock". One of my all time favourite emcees has to be Rakim. Later on I loved MC's like intelligent hoodlum, Public Enemy, Poor righteous teachers, Kool G.Rap, Big Daddy Kane. I, Abdul-Karim, grew up influenced by Reggae, we were surrounded by ska, rocksteady, studio one, and the roots rock reggae of the Rastafarian movement, at the same time we also had Motown, and curtis Mayfield, this is what our parents and the people around us played…we just emulated them. I personally just emceed like Major worries from the king jammys crew.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What is the meaning behind your name, Mecca2Medina?
MECCA2MEDINA: Well in the history of the prophet we know that Mecca was the land of idol worship, then the prophet was sent to Medina to set up the first Islamic state. So the prophet traveled from a land of disbelief to a Land of Tawheed (Oneness of God). So mecca2medina is about that experience coming from ignorance into guidance in Islam.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What did you guys do before rapping?
MECCA2MEDINA: I work in a school as a student counselor, Abdul Karim is a social worker and Ishmael is a banker.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What is the Muslim hip-hop scene like in the UK?
MECCA2MEDINA: The scene here is in its early days, even though there
are many muslims that Rap, not all of them openly say that they are muslims. We are trying to create the Jamat which is a forum for all the muslim MCs to come together and work together. When we started doing this we
were the only group now there are probably about 20 to 30 muslim MCs. A lot of the problem was the whole idea about music being haram (forbidden). I think that now that is changing a great deal. There are now many scholars openly supporting what we and others are doing.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: How is this album different than your previous albums?
MECCA2MEDINA: Well at the moment we have two albums out one called "mecca experience" and the other called "Africian sounds". The first one is aimed at muslims and non-muslims who don't mind listening to music…on that album we talk about issues that are close to our heart like the love of materialism (Trust Me) or the importance of following the siratal mustaqueem (yellow brick road). "Africian sounds" is done completely on drums (percussion) this is done for any muslims who argue against music.On that album we praise the sisters for wearing the Hijab in the west, we also have a track called "mothers" which expresses the importance of loving your mother. We also have a track called "PEACE" which portrays the negativity shown in the media about Islam.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Who was your favorite artist to collaborate with?
MECCA2MEDINA: Well there is one of our brothers, called Idris, who is a tight MC. He is first on track 11 on the Mecca Experience album. AK (Abdul Karim): Sheikh Ahmed Tijani as a big man.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What are you goals with your Music?
MECCA2MEDINA: We would like to create a muslim youth movement with our music. We want to be the alternate to the mainstream hip hop. So young muslims can grow up and listen to Halal music that reminds them of the greatness of Allah. For me to insert Islam into the reggae arena is a major goal, nearly 70% of the slaves taken from Africa were Muslims, we need to acknowledge that within our different communities. Our music is also Dawa (delivering the message of Islam) to non-muslims there are many new muslims that have told us that they were influenced in Islam by listening to our music, we also want to instill pride in the young Muslims growing up in the west where Islam is demeaned daily.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Were you all born Muslim…if not, what made you come to Islam?
MECCA2MEDINA: My father was Muslim my mother was Christian. I grew up with my mother who took me to the church every Sunday. I once asked the priest to explain to me the trinity…he said it can't be explained you just have to believe. I left the church after that and seeing so much hypocrisy in the church I went to a few other churches before leaving religion completely and becoming a street hoodlum. Rap saved me because as a lyricist I had to read and I found out about the great Africian Muslim kings who had made a great contribution to world civilization. I also learned about the moors and Sankore University in Timbuktu (the first University). All of this made me proud and showed me that our people have a rich and in-depth history inside Islam. AK: I was brought up as a roman catholic. I followed Rastafari for a number of years, before becoming Muslim.
MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Finally, how has Islam shaped your life?
MECCA2MEDINA: Rakin: Before Islam I was a street hoodlum involved with a lot of low level Crime. I lived a dark life which was surrounded by instant gratification. If I didn't become a Muslim I could of ended up in prison or worst than that…dead. Islam has transformed my life completely it gave me a thirst for knowledge, it gave me self-discipline, it gave me direction. Islam instilled within me a completely different way to look at the world. AK: I don't know how bad things could have got, but all of my boys have had spells in jail, so I may have followed. I enjoyed thug life and all its accessories; girls and champagne, but I don't think I was an ignorant hooligan.