Interview with Hasan Salaam
Six years have gone by since Hasan Salaam won an award for his song "Blaxploitation". Currently he has a great collabo album out with Rugged N Raw as Mohammad Dangerfield. He is in the studio working on his soon to be released "Music Is My Weapon" EP and a full length album to be released in 2012. I had the chance to talk to him, during Ramadan, about his career so far and what is yet to come as an intelligent religious/political-minded rapper. Respect!
Artist: Hasan Salaam
Title: Music Is My Weapon EP
Release date: Unknown
Buy at: Amazon
[Q]: First off, how is Ramadan moving along? Are you (ever) planning on going to Mecca?
Ramadan has been ok. I was sick so I cant fast fully fast. I have been practicing since I was 14 and have only missed 2 or 3 so far due to either sickness or traveling, I will have to make up the days soon.
[Q]: Have you read the latest biography of "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” by Manning Marable? In what way has he affected your life and music?
No, I have not had the chance to read it but I have heard some not so good things about it. Reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X is what made 1st start studying Islam. My faith has inspired my everyday life and art in ways I could not even begin to explain. If you listen to the music I hope you will hear that shining through the sound. Also just on the basic principles of standing up for what I believe in no matter what whether it be to live for it or to die for El Hajj Malik Shabazz(Malcolm X) was an outstanding example of true dedication.
[Q]: Naturally, we have to discuss the current economic and political instability - what does it mean to you?
Capitalism is competition and unfortunately there is more respect for corporations than there is for human beings, unless you ask Mitt Romney and he tells you corporations are people too. The budget is increasing not due to spending on programs like unemployment and health care but to the billions daily spent on war. The base of the Republican party are primarily poor or working class Caucasian Christians and they have been tricked by the republican party to think along race, religious and class lines instead of what is best for everyone in the country. Mexicans are not stealing jobs here in the USA and half of these politicians are employing some type of "illegal" worker everyday. The job problem in America is due to the fact that nothing is made over here because these corporations they care so much about would rather pay someone 14 cents a week with no health care somewhere else in the world so they could make more money.
Not all Muslims in the world hate America, there are many hard working Muslim families that have been contributing to this society for years, and people overseas wouldn't hate this country if this country didn't exploit them, drop bombs on them and meddle in their foreign affairs. The people who benefit most from the so-called socialist initiatives live welfare, or social security are Caucasian Americans, not African or Latino Americans, check the numbers.
The instability shows peoples ignorance, you can yell post racial America till your red, white and blue in the face but the disparities and over racism prove otherwise daily. The economy faltering is a culmination of 8 years of Bush bullshit and Obama sticking to that script for the most part. There was a surplus after Clinton, follow the trail of the Bush legislature and you will find an answer to most of the economic problems in this country.
[Q]: In what way has it affected your own family, friends and/or business?
All this is fuckin with my peoples retirement. I was under the impression there wouldn't be social security for my generation anyway, but to see my family members who have worked so hard for 50+ years and there nest egg is depleted because of stubborn politicians and greedy business executives. When these Enron executives steal from our Parents and Grandparents with no justice to follow and people just sit back like nothing happened it just showed how complacent the American public is. All of this is affecting everyone of us whether we would like to admit it or not.
[Q]: One of your songs is entitled "15 minutes". When are your 15 minutes over?
This isn't a gimmick for me. That 15 minutes applies to those who sell out or buy into that bullshit. The real is always here.
[Q]: If your rap-career does not earn you the amount of money your family needs, how will you provide (your back-up plan)?
I will do whatever it takes to feed my family except destroying someone else's family. No matter what I do music will always be part of my life, I need it as much as air or blood flowin thru my veins. I have been doing lectures at Universities across the country and in Europe called "From The Spirituals To Hip-Hop" on the history of Black Music and it's relation to our struggle for freedom here in America. Teaching is definitely on that list, writing for other artists, voice overs, working on a book and film scripts so I have many outlets. If not there's always stripping!
[Q]: You are part of the group 5th Column. Now you formed a group with Rugged N Raw as Mohammad Dangerfield. What exactly is the difference and are the plans?
5th Column is still rocking. We do monthly food and clothing drives on MLK and Grant Ave. in Jersey City NJ every 3rd Sunday of the month. MoDanger/Mohammad Dangerfield is a collab album with Rugged N Raw. There are more members of 5th Column who don't rock they are just part of the community events and just family, it's all part of the same movement.
[Q]: When can we expect a new album?
I have a FREE EP entitled "Music Is My Weapon". The next album "Life In Black & White" will be out in 2012. Music Is My Weapon is like a re introduction, it's been a minute since my last solo project and I have so much music and so much to say I just gotta get it out there.
[Q]: Most artists tend to change their style due to personal 'growth' or other changes in their live. Over the years what has changed your music? What are the negative sides of this change?
Change is inevitable. All artists should grow and evolve, an artist doesn't it becomes redundant. I'd be mad if I still sounded like I did when I 1st started or still spittin on the same exact topics the same way, that would mean not only in music but in life in general I haven't expanded my horizons. I think my flows, my delivery and my clarity have gotten better. I use my voice as an instrument and don't have the same tone on every song.
On some life shit I have been thru a lot so its all gonna be reflected in the music. As for negative, there is no negative to growth unless we forget who we are. Some artists allow themselves to get boxed in and fight their own development, because people want their favorite artists to make similar joints sometimes cause music can be nostalgic, and it takes them back to a time and place.
[Q]: Any tour-event, or fan-moment, you like to share with your fans?
Every time someone builds with me after a show, in the street, or I receive a email/twitter or Facebook post its means something to me. When supporters tell me that my music speaks to their struggle and their soul I'm re-energized to do what I do. That means the most to me for real. I wanna let them know I appreciate the support and put this pen to the paper to not only speak for my pain and triumphs but the worlds you dig.
[Q]: What collaborations could your fans look out for in the future?
Immortal Technique, Reef The Lost Cause, Steele of Smiff n Wesson, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Chase Infinite of Self Scientific, Eternia, Snowgoons, and thats just to name a few. I'm putting in work out here.
[Q]: What is your main goal to reach as an artist?
Honesty, I am true to myself, my family, my people and the world. Each song captures a moment in time, a thought, a vibe. If that moment is brought to life for the listener I am doing what I was put here to do. I want people to see the good, bad and ugly of this world so that Insha'Allah we can better it together. I'm not here to be preachy I just paint the picture, we all get to interpret it how we choose.
A couple of 'simple' questions:
[Q]: What is your favorite movie?
'Do the Right Thing' hands down.
[Q]: What is your favorite music?
Any kind that I feel in soul. Genre's are invented to sell music. I think Louis Armstrong said it best "there are two types of music, Good & Bad". If it doesn't move me it's bad.
[Q]: What is your favorite YouTube clip?
Drinking With Cups is the most random funny shit too me. Every time I see it I'm rolling.
[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?
Writing, recording, mixing and spending time with family. I have been focused on getting this Music Is My Weapon project finished and ready to go.
[Q]: Final words?
Check out @HasanSalaam on twitter, facebook.com/hasansalaammusic and HasanSalaamMusic.com Walk on Water Peace.