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Crosscurrents

Primordial and poetic: Hip hop according to Baraka Blue

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Baraka Blue (Facebook Mobile Upload)
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Baraka Blue

The religion of Islam has been showing up in hip hop and rap music for decades.  Artists like MosDef are open about their Muslim faith, and how it influences their music. And there are many others too -- Big Daddy Kane, Lupe Fiasco, and some members of the iconic 90s hi hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Similarly, hip hop artist Baraka Blue draws inspiration for his music from Sufi Islam. But unlike these artists who are African American -- he’s white.

“I found out very early that as long as you be you and you keep it real and you’re honest and you’re sincere, then you’ll be respected,” he explains. 

And Baraka Blue has been keeping it real in the West Coast hip hop scene since he was 13 -- writing poetry, free-styling with his friends, and performing at clubs. But he was also getting high, stealing, and getting in trouble. Then, he came across the poetry of Jalal-uldeen Rumi, the 13th Century Sufi poet Muslim theologian and mystic. It was a life-changing moment.

Click the audio player above to hear Baraka Blue's story and music.

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.