Mohammed Yahya is a Mozambican born Rapper / Spoken Word Artist who was forced to flee his country of birth during the civil war. Having moved to Portugal, the young Mohammed Yahya began to show an interest in music, partly due to his father’s influence as a singer. Being surrounded by poverty, he used music and poetry to channel his thoughts, energy and emotion in a positive manner. Read on to find out what he had to say when Nikhil Sharma caught up with him.
How long have you been listening to Hip-Hop and how long have you been involved?
Mohammed Yahya: I have been listening to Hip Hop since the late eighties, originally started off writing poetry at a very early age whilst still living in Portugal, then gradually moved to Hip Hop in my early teens.
Does Mozambique (where Mohammed is originally from) have a big Hip-Hop following?
Mohammed Yahya: Because I left Mozambique at the age of one I haven’t been able to keep in touch with the Mozambican Hip Hop Scene as much as I would have liked to, but always make sure I purchase some Hip Hop when I go back home, currently I’m really feeling a Mozambican Rapper called Azagaia.
What are your views on Hip-Hop at this moment?
Mohammed Yahya: Like many things life there are negative and positive aspects in Hip Hop, unfortunately it’s sad to see so much negativity, violence, drugs, degradation of women in Hip Hop, and usually this is done by the most financially successful artists who have thousands of children dreaming of following their footsteps, but it’s refreshing to know Real Hip Hop still lives in the depths of ghettos, shanty towns and deprived areas, where many socially aware rappers are born in.
It’s great to see the voice of Hip Hop still representing and speaking out for people’s struggles all over the world.
Tell the people a bit about your style or swagger.
Mohammed Yahya: I’m a bilingual rapper who raps in both English and Portuguese, representing the voices of African, Refugees, Muslims and people who generally want to live in a better world free from corruption, war, tyranny and oppression.
Are there any artists that influence you and your music?
Mohammed Yahya: I’m influenced by various artists not just Hip Hop but other genres also, I listen to a lot of Traditional African Music, especially from West Africa.
As for Hip Hop, I like a variety of K’Naan to Immortal Technique.
Tell me a bit about Blind Alphabetz.
Mohammed Yahya: Blind Alphabetz was my old Hip Hop duo, which consisted of myself and Iron Braydz.
We put out a three videos, a single, one MixTape and CD called Luvolution as well which was released in 2007, we are no longer together and decided to pursue solo careers.
Does your music have a message? If so, what is that message?
Mohammed Yahya: Ultimately I’m trying to promote Peace and Justice, in order to do that I need to speak out against Anti-Peace and injustices worldwide.
Tell me about the monthly event that you hold with Poetic Pilgrimage (Shout-out to those sisters!)
Mohammed Yahya: Me and Poetic Pilgrimage have been running a monthly event called Rebel Muzik, initially we started the event to bring artists from different scenes together.
We wanted to create a positive conscious event that provided a platform for upcoming musicians and film makers.
Do you think that Hip-Hop is evolving or is it staying the same or stagnating. What can artists and fans do to help Hip-Hop to survive in the mainstream?
Mohammed Yahya: I think Hip Hop is definitely evolving especially when it comes to level of lyricism, production, swagger and creativity.
I think it’s important for artists to keep the creativity in Hip Hop alive and not feel scared to express themselves musically outside of the box, I also think it’s extremely important for fans to keep buying music and not only rely on free downloads.
How has the Muslim community reacted to a Hip-Hop artist such as yourself?
Mohammed Yahya: For most of my career they have been extremely supportive, but every now and then I get approached by someone who tells me that music is forbidden.
Can you give me your top ten dead or alive Hip-Hop artists and why?
Mohammed Yahya: There are too many artists too mention.
Are there any artists that you think are moving Hip-Hop forward in a positive direction?
Mohammed Yahya: I feel there are literally hundreds of artists moving Hip-Hop forward in a positive direction, from different countries, in UK artists such as: Poetic Pilgrimage, Mecca2Medina, Lowkey, FaithSFX are some of the people who are doing great work.
The same great work is reflected all over the world from Senegal to Portugal.
Can you tell me about the youth work that you do?
Mohammed Yahya: I run various educational workshops in schools, youth centres, Prisons, Synagogues etc.
My workshops tackle a wide variety of subjects from Teenage pregnancy to comparative religion, and they are mostly done through Hip Hop and spoken word poetry.
I try to educate them whilst providing some entertainment too, ultimately I want young people to get in touch with their creativity and express themselves in a platform when they don’t feel judged.
What have you been doing for the relief effort in Haiti?
Mohammed Yahya: I have been performing, helping organise various event and fundraisers for Haiti.
Can I get free VIP tickets to your next show?
Mohammed Yahya: Yes.
Finally, what does the future hold for Mohammed Yahya?
Mohammed Yahya: I have planned European and African Tours, more collaborative Projects, a podcast, some acting, but at the end of the day god knows best.