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2005 ignites a brand new generation in revolutionary hip-hop. Straight from New Jersey, Hasan Salamm is a deeply spiritual Muslim emcee who wants his music to spark change in every listener. As a man, he feels that he was born to create music. As an emcee, he has the powerful delivery of Chuck D, the racial love of Mos Def, the instructional attitude of Krs-One, and the anger of Immortal Technique. He just released his debut LP ('Paradise Lost') on Day By Day Entertainment. 'Paradise Lost' was produced by DJ Static of Stronghold, Rugged N Raw, Mike Marvel, & Shy Money from the Dream Team, and Salaam., The album features somewhat unknown guests like Baron of Red Clay, and Hicoup & Sundiata. These somewhat unknown contributors give the album a refreshing vibe. A true activist who loves his people, Salamm has opened the door for his musician friends by putting them on the album. The album's diversity comes from the variety of topics. Regardless of variety, every single track on 'Paradise Lost' is deeply rooted in the spirit of revolution. Some songs have an intense spirituality ('Eternal Life', 'Hezbollah') while some are political ('Blaxploitation'). 'The Drinking Gourd' is an honest look at alcohol addiction and 'Boom Bap' is a hard look at hip-hop. The revolution may not be televised, the movement will be musical in nature. Creating the revolution's soundtrack, Hasan Salamm has joined the hip-hop people's army and is looking to recruit you!
T.JONES: "What goes on?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Peace.'
T.JONES: "You just released a new album, 'Paradise Lost' on Day By Day Records. Tell us about it."
HASAN SALAMM: 'It's my first album and it's an introduction to my life, knowledge, experiences, and ideas.'
T.JONES: "Do you have a favorite song on 'Paradise Lost'?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Right now, it's 'Prayer Of A Sinner'. It was the last song I wrote for the album. It is where I am right now in my life. But, it changes due to the zone I'm in at a particular time. 'Fountain of Youth' always puts a smile on my face.'
T.JONES: "Can you explain the title 'Paradise Lost'?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'The title, 'Paradise Lost' is about the journey of a man who is evicted from the garden, in religious theory. I always looked at that story as a lesson. Whether it was true or not, it tells us about all of our lives, as a whole and as individuals. Who doesn't have to deal with temptation, pain, loss, and struggle? Our ancestors were stolen from their homeland. Generation upon generation has been brainwashed to think of us as less than a human beings. We are the lost tribe, in the wilderness, on a journey to find the Promised Land, our sense of Paradise, both individually and as a people.'
T.JONES: "Describe the overall recording process of the 'Paradise Lost' LP."
HASAN SALAMM: 'All of it was recorded at Mike Marvel Studios in Jersey City except for 'One Life to Give', which was recorded at T.M.E. in the Bronx. It took about a year and a half to 2 years to complete."
T.JONES: "What song took the longest to complete? Why?"
HASAN SALAMM: ''Diaspora' because I was reading a couple books that inspired it. So, I had to finish the books first. I also wanted the info to be on point, so I scrutinized it the most.'
T.JONES: "What is the meaning behind your name?"
HASAN SALAMM: '''Diaspora' is the African Diaspora. 'Def' is any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland.'
T.JONES: "How did you get involved with Day By Day Entertainment?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I played some music for Ravage, a member of M.I.C. (Monsta Island Czars) and A&R Promoter for Day by Day. Ravage took the music to MF Grimm.'
T.JONES: "When creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Or, do you write to the beat?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'All of the above. It just depends on the situation. I'm always writing, so sometimes, I don't have any tracks with me. Other times, I take a beat everywhere I go.'
T.JONES: "Favorite sampler or drum machine?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I use the MPC 2000 XL.'
T.JONES: "The song, 'Blaxploitation' is very powerful. What inspired this track?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Hip-Hop has become a multi million-dollar industry. It gets used and abused by outside forces to the point of absurdity. Since we've been here, everything we have built or invented has been exploited with America making the profit while our people live as second-class citizens. The topic of reparations is something that politicians and lawmakers avoid. Reparations are not about money. They are about control over our own land, property, creations, communities, and ultimately, our own destiny.'
T.JONES: "What do you think of films labeled as 'Blaxploitation'?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Some of the films were classics on an aesthetic and social level. Some were just exploitative. These films saved the movie industry due to low cost and high returns, similar to Hip-Hop now.'
T.JONES: "What is the favorite part of your live show?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Interacting with the crowd. It's a natural high.'
T.JONES: "You are from New Jersey? Where are you living now? What is it like?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I was born in Manhattan NYC, but lived most of my life in Teaneck, NJ. I moved to Bayonne, NJ. Now, I'm in Jersey City, NJ'
T.JONES: "What are some songs that made you fall in love with hip-hop?"
HASAN SALAMM: ''Follow the Leader' by Rakim, 'The Headbanger' by EPMD, 'The Choice is Yours' by Black Sheep, 'The World is Yours' by Nas, 'Distortion to Static' by The Roots, 'Buck Em Down' by Blackmoon, 'Superman Lover' by Redman, 'Chief Rocka' by Lords Of The Underground, 'Hip-Hop Hooray' by Naughty By Nature, 'I Get Around' by 2Pac, 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik' by Outkast, 'Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothing To Fuck Wit' by Wu-Tang Clan, '93 Till Infinity' by Hieroglyphics, 'Nothin But A G Thang' by Dr. Dre, and the list goes on.'
T.JONES: "Who are some emcees you would like to collaborate with in the future?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I am in the process of working with a lot of the emcees I respect and have wanted to work with. Who knows what the future holds? I will have to keep building and meeting folks.'
T.JONES: "Who are some producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'DJ Premier, The Rza, KayDee, Prince Paul, Pete Rock, Salaam Remi, Ski, The Heatmakers, The Neptunes, 45 King, Just Blaze, and Kanye West.'
T.JONES: "Tell us about the song, 'Hezbollah'."
HASAN SALAMM: 'It's about fighting against oppression. People in power stay in power because they divide and conquer. By separating oppressed people and our struggles, it is easier for America and its allies to control a region. All of our struggles are the same. When we unite, Babylon will fall.'
T.JONES: "Where were you during the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I was asleep when the first plane hit, but I watched the second one out of my window.'
T.JONES: "What was the last incident of racism you experienced?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Racism is an everyday thing in the country, but what stands out the most was a couple of months ago. I was driving a cab for Yellow Taxi in Bayonne, NJ. I was the only Black night driver at the time in a racist town. The Caucasian dispatcher referred to a customer on the phone as a 'nigger', after she hung up with him, not realizing I heard her. I confronted her and we got into an argument about it. She explained how the customer was a friend of her husband, who happens to be a Black man, which makes the word 'nigga' okay, as long as there's an 'a' instead of an 'er' at the end. She proceeded to say she has 'mutt' kids and that we should all get together to go after the 'Arabs and dot heads' taking all our jobs. It was some ironic shit. The icing on the cake was after I quit. I saw the other cabbies sheets and I was like $200 to 300 behind all of them. Go figure.'
T.JONES: "Death penalty ' for or against?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I don't think that the court system is fair. The death penalty in this country is bias so I say Allah is the only judge.'
T.JONES: "Abortion ' pro-choice or pro-life?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Ultimately, a woman's decision, but it should never be used as a form of birth control.'
T.JONES: "Out of the myriad of problems we face in contemporary society (racism, poverty, war, hatred, dysfunctional families, lack of funding, etc.), which ones do you feel need the most attention?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'All of them deserve attention. White supremacy and colonialism are behind a lot of the issues we face today. Freedom, justice, and equality defiantly have to take a precedent.'
T.JONES: "Where do you see the United States in 10 years from now?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Babylon will continue to decay and corrupt all it touches until its demise.'
T.JONES: "How do you feel about the term 'consciousness rap'?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Music is music. Labels and terms are for critics.'
T.JONES: "What was your childhood like? What kind of kid were you?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'It was what it was. Some good, some bad. I was imaginative, interested in learning, sports, and all kinds of things.'
T.JONES: "What part of New Jersey did you grow up in? What was it like?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Mostly in Teaneck, with my Mother. It's a suburb with a mix of all kinds of different ethnicities. I spent time in Jersey City with my Father. The two different places gave me a different kind of perspective growing up.'
T.JONES: "What has been in your CD player or on your tape deck recently?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Charlie Parker 'With Strings', Hi-Coup's 'Ghetto Factory Mix-tape', Rugged N Raw 'Train Of Thought', Al Green 'I'm Still In Love With You', Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, & Max Roach 'Monkey Jungle', Majesty's 'Heir to the Throne' Mix-tape, Outkast, Jay-Z, and Nas.'
T.JONES: "What do you think of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'They should get the fuck out, plain and simple. England fucked it up after the World War I and America has just carried on the tradition.'
T.JONES: "If you could re-make any classic hip-hop song, what would it be?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'I would rather pen a new classic to add on to the list.'
T.JONES: "How did you get started in making music?"
HASAN SALAMM: ' My mother gave birth to me. It's part of what I'm here for.'
T.JONES: "Who was the biggest influence in your life?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'My mother.'
T.JONES: "What was your last dream you remember?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Had to do with death.'
T.JONES: "What is hip-hop lacking these days?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Hip-Hop is not lacking to what the mass media presents to the world, as Hip-Hop is lacking. The deficiency is in that the full spectrum of life is not presented. Not all Africans in America are drug dealers or pimps. We are everything, just like anyone else.'
T.JONES: "What are some major misconceptions that people have of you?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'That I am a racist. People confuse some of my lyrics. I think that Caucasians are so used to not being questioned or confronted on their evils, that they take it as reverse racism. It's not about Black and White. It's about wrong and right.'
T.JONES: "What is next for Hasan Salamm?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Tomorrow, Insha Allah, God Willing, more music, more shows, more ideas, and a greater understanding on how to be a better person and a better Muslim.'
T.JONES: "Any final words?"
HASAN SALAMM: 'Peace.'
Thank you Hasan Salamm !
Interview by Todd E. Jones (aka The New Jeru Poet)
NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.