Sk: When did you become an activist?
Hasan Salaam: I became an activist IDK if I have a particular date for it. I guess I was always encouraged to be active. My mother always encouraged me to be active in the community. I was on the kind of vibe if you are not doing something for your people your are doing something for your neighborhood then you weren’t really doing nothing at all. So my mother is an activist I just grew up with it.
Sk: How long have you been doing this? Forever?
Hasan Salaam: I guess. I’m 32 so…
Sk: Your not 32…lies…
HasanSalaam: what you talking about?
Sk: You don’t look 32…
HS: I’m 32. I was born in 1981
Sk: What drove you to speak up for social change instead of what other rappers usually speak up for?
HS: I’m just being myself you know like I said when I was a kid my mother she worked for Patterson healthy heart which is an organization in Patterson NJ that works on getting people of color and poor people in Patterson access to getting tested for blood and heart disease and things like that. And she did the asthma projects you know black and brown people get a lot of asthma because we live in the city. That’s how I grew up. She dragged me everywhere anything that had to do with the community she was there. You know…
I mean Also through Islam…. I mean for me I’m not ever going to l lie Like I say you hung out with me I’m not even a religious person you know. I believe in Allah and I believe in the Day of Judgment. I don’t believe in people get so caught up in cultural morays and things that are not in the Quran and will argue about Hadith all day. To me the only thing I know is in my heart is the 5 pillars of Islam. And if you look in the Quran Zakat is mentioned with Salat a lot… alot… that rhythm….. They are mentioned together a lot. To me it’s one thing to go and be amongst other Muslims and pray and obviously the way we pray is prescribed. There is something that humility about putting our foreheads to the ground. It humbles you but at the same time. All you do is pray you’re not going to make this world a better place. Like prayer is to make you deal with the internal relationship with Allah and the internal struggle, this, that and any other, but Zakat is how you engage in the world and its important to me. It’s very important to me. I can pray all day that is not going to make my situation better. There is this quote I always see people using lately “If you wake up tomorrow with all the things you thanked Allah for today.” A lot of times when people pray they are like I want a car and this isn’t just Muslims but its people in general we are always asking God for things that we don’t have. Things we want instead of thanking God for all the things that we’ve been blessed with we like breathing right now you know what I’m saying it’s that same kind of thing. To be able to work towards bettering where we are.
And another thing. Other people rap about what they rap about to me that’s their business. You don’t know what is in the other mans heart or mind. I don’t think I’m at odds with them I ain’t got no beef with them. Like I Rap my life with my struggles and what I think is important. Other people go to do theirs.
Sk: Where have you been doing this at?
HS: Jersey. We do a food and clothing drive every month. Every third Sunday of the month in Jersey Corner of MLK and Grant Ave. We do a food and clothing drive. We been doing it for 7 years it’s not connected to an organization or like that its people from the community. I was like what do we need food, clothing and shelter. We can’t get everyone homes, but didn’t have a place to house anyone so we are doing the food and clothing part.
Sk: Outside of the country?
HS: Currently we’ve built a water well in Guinea-Bissau. I think we just reached our goal to raise enough money to build a medical facilities and to also equip that medical facilities with solar panels in a small village called Djati Guinea-Bissau. West Africa. That’s the main thing I’m doing outside of the country. I’m working with It takes a village, flow for the love of words, Hiphop harmony, Cobyanna Records. A whole of great people.
Sk: Where does your inspiration of music come from?
HS: Life. Good. Bad. Ugly. Triumphs. Tribulations. You know our people my people have been struggling in this country for 500 years. There is a whole lot of inspiration to draw from that and just the beauty of the universe.
HS: Everyone. I’m inspired by everybody.
Sk: What advice would you give people to empower themselves to be involved in determining their future?
HS: Don’t expect anyone or anything outside of yourself to do it for you. I’m a firm believer that Allah exists in every and all things. It’s not.. God is not something sits up in the clouds points fingers and throws thunderbolts. God is in all of us and we have to recognize that in ourselves. You know… if you are praying to God to do something for you. You can do it for yourself.
Sk: What do you think about the ideas of creating a rest area or tent cities like r2dtoo?
HS: I think its genius.
Sk: Is it?
HS: Absolutely, I think its genius because just like we were saying earlier we don’t have and we wanted to do food, clothing & shelter, but we don’t have the shelter… ya’ll figured out the shelter… and there are shelters out there but a lot of the like you guys said they push people out at 5:30 in the morning… and what if that person works at night then they have no where to stay… You have a kitchen set up everything about it I feel is a genius idea.
Sk: We try… Have you visited other places? Idk if there is any in Jersey…
HS: There was one in Florida. It was pulled down in clear water before I got there, but I’ve been told about what was going on and I think you guys are standing up against zoning laws and everything. It’s very brave. I’ve been to and work with shelters back home, but not tent cities.
Sk: You travel a lot what do you see in other cities that we can bring to Portland to combat this issue of homelessness?
HS: Outreach to the community. I’m not saying you haven’t done it. I’ve only been around you guys for a day so I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but definitely working to garnish support from different like I seen, I’ve seen you guys have been working with some of the unions, I’ve seen they’ve contributed to the doors. The artist community or different activist community in the city. I see Portland as you know a whole lot of different pockets of people. You might have the black movement, the Latino movement or the lesbian and gay movement or like bring people together on the level of people who are homeless fall into all these different boxes. And trying to use it as something to unify people. That’s why I said next time I’m out here I will love to help organize a show to raise awareness or pull some resources.
Sk: We will figure out something. I’m taking your word on this.
HS: My word is my bond. I don’t break that for nobody.
Sk: and I’ll make sure it happens. How does your music address these issues?
HS: I have a song on my album Children of God called Someplace. It deals with gentrification and homelessness of course.
“I’m looking for somewhere to go. Someplace that feels like home. Something I could call my own. I need some Peace of mind”
And the whole song is that way. I think everyone can relate to wanting to feel home someplace.
Sk: What are your advice for those who are experiencing homelessness?
HS: I would say they survived this long. It’s already a testament of how strong they are now it’s just about trying to take the next step or go over the next hurdle. So no matter what anyone says, no matter how anybody looks at you. Know that people in this world cannot survive how they’ve been surviving they are not as strong so the strength they have within them proves that they succeed at anything they put their mind to.
Sk: If people want to pick up your cd’s, know where you are figure out where you are where’s your info?
HS: Well the government has this….satellite that follows me everywhere called sprint…..Nah Im just joking… It true.. but.. hasansalaammusic.com, itunes, amazon, Pandora, spotify , and my next album will be out on ViperRecords. So you can go to ViperRecords.com, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. HasanSalaam.
Sk: Anything else you want to add?
HS: We all Children of God. Walk on Water. Peace.