Native Deen
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Native Deen

Sterling, Virginia, United States

Sterling, Virginia, United States
Band Hip Hop R&B

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"The Beat Goes On"

Did the election tip control of Congress? Marie Cocco from Newsday and Joel Mowbray from the National Review report on results from across the country. Plus: Former mayor Ed Koch and former Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey give their analysis on how the elections will affect New York City. Also: Rap music is usually associated with conspicuous consumption, crude language, and flashy performance. But Muslim trio Native Deen stay away from bad words, dress conservatively, and regularly exhort listeners to prayer. The Washington-based trio eschew wind and string instruments because the Koran forbids them. It's all part of being black and Muslim in the United States, they say--and like Christian rock did a decade ago, they are finding their niche. - The Brian Lehrer Show


"Muslim Musicians Rap About Islam"

They rap about growing up, being teased by other kids, saying no to drugs, doing well in school and praying.

But one figure is mentioned over and over again in their songs ? Allah.

They are three young, black Muslim-Americans who are in a religious rap group called Native Deen, based in a suburb of Washington, D.C. -- and they're part of a growing trend of singing or rapping about Islam.

Mainstream musician/actor Mos Def, who is Muslim, incorporates Islamic principles and Arabic words into his raps. Even R&B star Lauryn Hill has been known to use Islamic terms in her music.

"Any rapper or singer sings about where they come from," said Native Deen group leader Joshua Salaam, 29, of Sterling, Va. "We rap about our experiences, what we know -- growing up Muslim in America."

Because Muslim youths aren't allowed to date until they marry, must pray five times a day and are expected to adhere to diet and dress requirements, Salaam said being a teenager wasn't easy.

"It was fun at times, challenging at times," he said. "Sometimes it's nice being different." But often he and his friends were the object of ridicule, an experience related in some of the group's songs like in this excerpt from "Busy Bees":

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LINKS
Nativedeen.com
Islamicmedia.com
BACKGROUND
Past Stories


"What's with the scarf girl, rapped up like a mummy./They all made jokes and they said that you look funny./You ran into the bathroom and your friends began to scoff./After that encounter you had planned to take it off./But then you thought how much Allah likes how your dressin'. /Pleasin' him was top priority to you no question."

Muslim rap album sales are hard to track -- many songs are swapped instead of bought -- but Salaam said Native Deen shows can draw several hundred to several thousand spectators. The group mostly performs at Muslim weddings, conventions and dinners.

The group has recorded five albums under the label Muslim Youth of North America Raps, which are sold by Astrolabe Islamic Media online and through its catalog.

Astrolabe President Taher Rasheed said the company -- which distributes Islamic videos, books, games and software -- sells about 3,500 copies of the MYNA Raps/Native Deen albums a year.

But the concept is likely to raise questions in the post-Sept. 11 era, making some wonder if any of the songs advocate terrorism or anti-women sentiments.

Rasheed said the music turns the notion that Islam promotes violence and hatred on its head. "It helps to reinforce the positive aspects of the culture," he said. "[Usually] all you hear about are the negative aspects of the religion."

Salaam and rappers like Mos Def say they leave reference to negative applications of Islam out of their music.

The Web site for Mos Def, who is married with children, says that "in his music videos, he doesn't portray women as objects, as many rappers do." He also doesn't "swear senselessly" or allow alcohol at his concerts.

"You'll never find anything in our lyrics that's degrading to women -- never," said Native Deen's Salaam, who is married with two small sons. "When there are references to women, they're either about praising our mothers or about how much we love our wives."

In one of the group's songs, "I-S-L-A-M, The Light Turns On," there is a phrase some might at first interpret as offensive: "Confess, yes detest the Western attitude's mess."

But the subsequent line condemns religious zeal like that which drove the Sept. 11 terrorists:

"Zest for doing righteousness is nil./Got to obey Allah and obey Allah's will!"

Group member Abdul-Malik Ahmad, who wrote the song years ago, said the "mess" he was referring to is what he sees as a lack of "religiousity" in Western culture.

And Salaam, a former security police officer in the U.S. Air Force, said he hopes the music of Native Deen and other Muslim rappers and singers will unite people, not divide them.

"People who like music will like most of our songs," he said. "Music is universal." - FOX News


"TV Special Showcases Arts Within Religion"

(CBS) Whether it's Muslim hip-hop, classical dances of India, or a drumming program at a church soup kitchen, the arts have been a form of religious expression worldwide for centuries.

"The Arts Within Religion," an interfaith special to be broadcast Sunday, April 22 on CBS, profiles rappers Native Deen, South Indian classical dancer Swati Gupte Bhise, and the ArtSpirit program at The Church of Holy Apostles in New York City.

The members of Native Deen say their rap music promotes a message of tolerance and understanding while maintaining their religious and cultural identity.

The members, Joshua Salaam, Naeem Muhammad, and Abdul-Malik Ahmad call themselves "Native Deen" drawing from the Arabic word "deen" meaning "religion."

"I think what they (listeners) will see is that this music is something that they can relate to. But we're talking from a different perspective," Naeem said.

The program also looks at "Bharatanatyam" the classical dance of South India. This art form originated 5,000 years ago in the temples of ancient India. Bhise is one of this tradition's foremost performers.

The Church of Holy Apostles is an Episcopal church that serves 1,000 hot meals a day, five days a week, making it the largest emergency food program in New York. Since 2005, the church has offered an arts program to guests of the soup kitchen.

"It's God working through the person, through their own creative energy," says the program's founder, Marion Williams. "Despite the external circumstances, they still have that spiritual core. And art can help to open the door to that and channel it into something constructive for their lives."

"The Arts Within Religion" is produced with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Islamic Society of North America and a consortium of Jewish organizations. - CBS


Discography

All of Native Deen songs, lyrics and samples can be viewed at: http://www.nativedeen.com/ns/ndstore_music.php

But some of the fan favorites are:

- Intentions
- Deen You Know
- Small Deeds
- For The Prophets
- Drug Free
- Life's Worth
- Not Afraid to Stand Alone
- Still Strong
- MUSLIM
- Zamilooni

Photos

Bio

THE BAND

The story of Native Deen is an inspiring one that began with three Muslim youth possessing unique talents and a passion to spread an uplifting message. Originally solo artists and active participants of their communities searching for creative ways to educate and inspire Muslim youth, today Native Deen has become a fusion of Hip-hop and R&B flavors, thrilling fans with their eclectic lyrics, rhythms and sounds. The trio made up of Joshua Salaam, Abdul-Malik Ahmad and Naeem Muhammad came together in 2000 and has embarked upon a professional career in the music industry together in order to highlight issues confronting Muslims living in America.

These three young African-American men who were raised as Muslims in America have emerged as one of the leading Islamic music groups and have inspired an international fan base.

The group's musical creativity has resulted in evocative audio efforts that are a fusion of street rap, Hip-hop & R&B. The music of Native Deen resonates with fans all over the world. Their music and positive message have been embraced by people of all ages and all faiths.

The group has played to rave reviews throughout North America as well as Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Together, they have played some of the world's most distinguished auditoriums and performed alongside artists such as Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Sami Yusuf, Zain Bhika, Raihan, Dawud Wharnsby, Seven8Six, Outlandish and much more. Native Deen has performed in over 60 cities around the world inspiring Muslims and non-Muslims alike and were ranked as one of the Top Five bands in its genre on MySpace. Native Deen's music has provided a cultural bridge by presenting Islam in a positive light to Western audiences and promoting tolerance in Muslim countries by demonstrating that there are devout, practicing Muslims in Western countries. In 2006 the group won the Mahabba Award in Dubai at an Artists' event showcasing musicians, artists and filmmakers inspired to spread Islam through their art.