|Rakin Interview Part 2 :: Mecca 2 Medina
Have you experienced many problems or antagonistic attitudes towards you because of your faith in what appears to be an overtly anti-Islamic state? What techniques do you have to over come this?
I haven't personally had any problems with people because of my Islam. But I have recognised some poor perceptions and stereotypes of Muslims especially leading up to this Iraq crisis. Images of all Muslims being terrorists are splashed over the newspapers and TV. The best technique to utilise to overcome this is just to be a nice person and show people that Muslims are beautiful people that love God.
Do you have any difficulties reconciling what could be construed as hypocrisies portrayed by Rappers that claim to be Muslims? I'm thinking of blatant displays of drinking, drug taking and womanising?
Yes I definitely have a problem with rappers claiming to be Muslims, while they're drinking and drug taking. These people are usually not Orthodox Muslims. They are from an off-shoot of Islam called Five Percent. Some of their teachings go against Islam.
Do you have a view on Farrakhan, considering the recent decision by the Government to let him into the country, only to change their minds later? Do you think that he has been portrayed badly in the press and that they are not focussing on what he is currently saying?
I think Farrakhan has a lot to offer the people politically and socially but not religiously. He has done a lot of good in America. He has helped prostitutes and drug addicts by making them clean. Changing them into becoming law-abiding citizens and giving them power to rid themselves of their addictions. I think it's a crime of the British government not to allow him to come into Britain. They should let the people make up their own minds. The media are dealing with character assassination and I urge people to listen to him first before passing judgement.
What do you think he can offer to the UK which has very different societal circumstances to the US?
Farrakhan could be very useful in this country by reaching out to the drug gangsters we have in this country. He may have an affect in reducing black on black murders.
In 1996 you put out the 'Life After Death' EP as Mecca 2 Medina along with the other members, Ishmael and Imran. Were you happy with the way that turned out? It certainly received a fair bit of airplay in London.
The Life After Death EP was good at the time it came out because it stressed our beliefs as Muslims. We were happy with the response of it. After that EP in 1997 we released a twelve-inch called Where We Came From / Paradise. This got extensive play on the radio stations and the video for Where We Came From was shown on MTV. After this we released another twelve inch record Trust Me. This was produced by DJ Frankenstein and the remix produced by DJ Wiz.
Then who was it that left?
At this stage Imran left to form the crew The Planets.
Yeah, with with Son Rize and DJ Kam. What happened to Mecca 2 Medina then?
At this stage we went quiet and started to get involve with propagation work, we started performing in the Muslim community we also did a few shows in local Universities.
Are the two crews close? Do you work together?
Mecca 2 Medina and Planets are close and we will be doing some work together. At the moment we are in the process of creating "the Jamat", which will be a clan of conscious rappers and DJ's.
Right, so Mecca 2 Medina have been working on an LP. What can we expect from it and when will it be dropping? Who have you been working with? Basically do your sales pitch here:
We are hoping to release the album later on this year before that we will drop another single and then the album. We are working with different producers at the moment including Jazak and DJ Loose who also goes under the name Grain. On the album you can expect to here knowledge being kicked with Phat beats. You'll also hear stories from our daily lives. The album will definitely be entertaining, but more importantly thought provoking we aim to rock your ears and mind.
What sort of equipment are you using both to make beats and to record?
At the moment we are making beats using a Akai S2000 and sequencing them in Logic Audio.
What are your thoughts about the state of UK hip hop?
The UK hip hop scene is moving forward, but there needs to be more Unity and organisation. There are cats working hard for UK Hip HOP like my man Disorda big up and there are many good record labels. But I feel it is important for people to bend backwards to help each other. People are starting to get signed again because the majors can see that there is something happening on the underground, which is a good thing.
Who are the UK artists you listen to and think are at the top of their game?
I like Roots Manuva, Black Twang and Richotect Klashneckoff and there are many others that I have heard but I can't even recall their names. But because I'm into uplifting lyrics there are many that I can't really listen to. My favourite emcee is Idris AKA MC Howie he has appeared on a few of our tracks, he is hot and has some tight and original flows. You will definitely hear more from him on the album.
Having been in the business for so long, do you have any advice or tips for up and coming artists hoping to progress and make a career out of Hip Hop in the UK? Is that actually possible?
For up and coming artists would say, learn your craft and work hard on it. But also make sure you have skills in a different field to make money. It is truly import ant because there are too many emcees on the dole struggling, the hip hop scene here is not all Bling like in US. Also if you are lucky enough to get signed to a major, take your advance and invest it in a studio, because that might be the only large sum you see from your company.
Where can people hear and pick up your stuff?
You can pick up the Seeing Through The Smoke EP from Cargo distributors and West End shops like Mr. Bongo, alternatively you can go straight to the website Mecca2m.com and order it from there.
With your background, what in your opinion is one of the most important challenges facing our society?
Because I work in education I feel it is important to educate the next generation, especially the rude boys that find themselves being permanently excluded from school.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
Right about now I'm just putting the finishing touches on the album. And also working on the "Jamat" project.
What are your longer-term plans and objectives?
My longer term plans are to create a conscious movement where poets, rappers and intellectuals can meet together and work on uplifting the next generation.
Is there anyone else you would like to mention?
I would just like to big up BritishHipHop.co.uk for giving us the opportunity to represent.
Thank you for your time. Check out the Seeing Through The Smoke Review and check the mecca2m.com website.
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2000 & Beyond