by Haris Yar Khan - Jalya Writer
Tell us about yourself.
I am 25 years old, of Canadian & Egyptian heritage, with a background in linguistics and semiotics. I am a member of the Society of Spoken Art, & currently working on my BCOM Undergrad at MacEwan University.
What started your interest in becoming a Rap Artist?
From the 5th grade, I knew I wanted to rap, but to what capacity wasn’t really on my mind. Just the concept of being able to put words together in such a way was fascinating. It wasn’t until sometime in junior high that I started approaching poetry in a rap fashion, rhyming words in class etc. but nothing serious. The first time I recorded something was in the 11th grade; at the time, my friend Imran [who went by “skip”] was rapping and releasing songs; this gave me the push to be like, “I could do it better” [honestly I couldn't lol] but that gave me the confidence I needed to pursue it.
Who are some of your favourite Rap Artists, and what did you learn listening to them?
There are a lot of great emcees, but nowadays, it’s a little hard for me to listen to rap as almost all of its messaging directly conflicts with my faith. The two rappers I’d mention are Yasiin Bey [a.k.a Mos Def] and Lupe Fiasco IT. You can always learn something by listening to their work, from incorporating certain Islamic elements into their songs to introspective takes on different subjects. It showed me that rap can provide value to the listener. I pray that Allah rewards them for their efforts and forgives them for any shortcomings.
You joined the Society of Spoken Art, founded by Lupe Fiasco; what has your experience been with that group, and what was your experience rapping with Lupe Fiasco?
Becoming a member of the Society of Spoken Art really expanded my scope of this thing we call “Rap” and allowed me to explore elements that I wouldn’t have even realized existed in this art form, approaching it from an educational standpoint and really breaking down exactly what it is that we do as rappers. Bringing a sort of “awareness” to the micro and macro processes that are occurring in real-time. Rapping with Lupe IT was really a dream come true; even before joining SOSA, I used to pen every verse with the intention that if Lu IT heard it, he’d appreciate it; it was to the point that my friend Skip used to tell me not every bar had to be a double entendre and that folks wouldn’t get it, and that I was “wasting bars.”. However, I knew somehow it would pan out, and alhamdulillah Allah allowed it to happen.
What or Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration in rap isn’t even a rapper, alhamdulillah that I can say that I’m striving to be like the Prophet Muhammad PBUH and his companions to the best of my abilities; I understand that rap is a powerful tool that can be used for good or evil and god allowed me to possess a certain skill level in this art form so I have to make the best possible use with it to combat the ills of society that are constantly targeting our youth. God willingly.
Where can people find you and your music online?
The best way to connect with me is via Instagram @cool.otr; just say Jalya sent you, and I’ll hit you back a peace!