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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Hasan Salaam
Monday, October 06, 2008

An up and coming emcee with some buzz is oftentimes described as being “hot in the streets,” so maybe it was a sign that during this interview with New Jersey emcee Hasan Salaam not one but two fire trucks interrupted us. Salaam recently released his second album, Children of God, and when one combines that with the work he’s been doing in his community Salaam truly embodies the phrase “hot in the streets.” During our fire truck interrupted sit down Salaam spoke about his work, both musically and within the community, as well as his thoughts on how people treat each other in America, and getting Poison Pen on the basketball court. Yes, you read that right, getting Poison Pen on the basketball court.

Adam Bernard: With a name like Hasan Salaam I’m guessing you get a lot of “random” airport checks. I know there’s a political lilt to much of your work, so hit me with your thoughts on the way people are treating each other in America today.
Hasan Salaam: It’s funny because within the Black community Islam has always been prevalent, since the days of Elijah Muhammad, so within the community it’s all good, but on a larger scale it seems like more of America is in fear of Islam. Sometimes I get it from random spots when they check my ID, or at the airport, stuff like that, but to me it’s just ignorance. Being Black in America you kind of already deal with it anyway, so I guess I already got the tough skin for it. It just bothers me that people don’t really look into most faiths, whether it be Islam, Christianity, Judaism, most people don’t know anything about it even if they’re a part of it. They don’t know what it’s really about, where it comes from, the history of it, the science about it, or anything like that, so their ideas of things that they’re not a part of are even more ignorant, or closed minded, because they just have never experienced it before.

Adam Bernard: Your latest album is titled Children of God. What’s the meaning behind this title?
Hasan Salaam: We are all part of the human family, and Five Percenters are supposed to deliver the message to all families of the planet earth. We all come from the same place. We all come from the same source. Also, I work with kids and I got tired of always hearing my kids calling each other nigga, calling each other bitch, all the time and it’s just like you need to recognize yourself for who you really are. That’s really where it comes from. It’s not that we’re all a child in the physical sense, but we’re children in a spiritual sense. We’re young in this world. No matter how old you are there’s still shit you’re gonna learn and that’s really where it’s coming from. We all have the essence of The Almighty in us and that’s really what it’s about for me.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned you work with kids. Do you teach, or do after school programs?
Hasan Salaam: I work with the Urban League of Hudson County in Jersey City. I work with kids that would be considered at risk youth, kids that are coming out of the youth house, or got court probation, or things like that. I work with them helping them get life skills, like helping them get a job, helping them get back into school, and giving em as much knowledge of self as I possibly can.

Adam Bernard: I hear you also do a lot of other community work, as well.
Hasan Salaam: We do food and clothing drives with Rugged N Raw and the rest of the cats in the 5th Column; HiCoup, Impaq and BadSportt. The drives are every third Sunday of the month and we try to gather food and clothes for the community. There are a whole lot of people who help us, actually. Also, in everyday life I try to address and greet everybody with peace and try to be the best man I can be.

Adam Bernard: Tell me about some of the other sides of Hasan Salaam.
Hasan Salaam: I like to laugh. For me that’s like medicine, so I crack a lot of jokes. One of these days I’m gonna take my shot at stand up comedy. I think that’s the hardest form of show business. Musically someone can come to your show and even if they don’t like the whole thing they can find a little piece that they like, but with stand up comedy it’s make me laugh or you suck. Besides that I like to play ball. I try to play basketball whenever I can.

Adam Bernard: You know they have the NBA Entertainment League.
Hasan Salaam: Yo, they need to have an underground Hip-Hop tournament, or some shit. That’s what I want to do one day, a benefit, or something like that. We can have a benefit basketball game with all the cats in the underground.

Adam Bernard: I’m choosing whatever team has Homeboy Sandman on it.
Hasan Salaam: Yeah, he’s like six-nine or something (ed’s note - he’s really 6’5’’). I want to get Poison Pen on my team because I think he’d be able to clear everybody out the box.

Adam Bernard:
We don’t have a lot of athletic folks in underground Hip-Hop, unfortunately.
Hasan Salaam: It could be like one of those softball teams, like the beer leagues. We could have one of those. The game moves a little bit slower, the final score would be like 25-23, or something like that.

Adam Bernard: Finally, other than potential basketball beer leagues with other underground Hip-Hop artists, what inspires you?
Hasan Salaam: Everyday life. There’s so much material out there right now no matter what your expression is, whether it’s Hip-Hop, comedy, whatever it is there’s so much shit going on in this world that needs to get better, or just be pointed out, whether it’s good or bad. People are starving, the economy is shot to shit, and gentrification is splitting up a lot of our communities. My mother was supposed to retire but she can’t because they’re not gonna give her her medical benefits and her pension is fucked up and it’s just like that shit is really hittin home right now. Last year, when they had the stimulus check, I didn’t make enough money to receive one, and if anything I’m the person who needs that shit the most!

Related Links

Website: hasansalaammusic.com
MySpace: myspace.com/hasansalaam
CdBaby: cdbaby.com/hasansalaam


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:38 AM  
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