Musab (formerly known as Beyond) has had a remarkable rap career integral to the surprising rise of Minneapolis Hip-Hop. His album entitled Comparison was the first release of indie hip-hop label giant, Rhymesayers Entertainment. He was part of the super-group The Dynospectrum. Check out what he had to say to Alex Humphrey when we caught up with him.
You have said in many interviews that you had a harsh upbringing could you elaborate further?
Musab: My childhood was most difficult from an emotional and mental standpoint. I'll explain, my mother became pregnant with me at the age of 14 and bore me at the age of 15, by the time she was 17 years old my first sister was born so my mother was basically a child herself with two children to raise on her own.
Me and my sister have different fathers, I have never met the man who is my biological father. Up until I was about 11 or 12 me and my sister were told we had the same father until one day while my mother was making dinner I asked her how come me and my sister don’t resemble one another, she looks like her father and I don't. She then, sat us down and told us we have different fathers, it was very hard to hear at that age for me, I was not prepared emotionally or mentally to deal with that information at the time.
It had an effect in my trust towards people and finding my identity. Being that my mom was so young and herself had a very difficult upbringing she was not prepared or mature enough to be raising two kids on her own so therefore I was cast into an environment not suited for a child many times, I've witnessed many things most kids don’t see which I will keep between me and family, but it most definitely made things confusing and stressful for me. Also we were dirt poor, to put it simple I grew up a bastard kid on welfare. My childhood was not that fun at times but I got by.
You grew up in Minnesota what was the hip hop scene there like?
Musab: There was not really a hiphop scene back in the day, Hiphop was just something that we took to naturally being young black kids in the hood, there was nothing organized on a citywide scale. There were a few b-boy crews and a few rap groups. The scene wasn't really organized until the mid 90's when Headshots began and that’s when other kids followed suit. It’s good to see what kicked off back then still striving.
Your bio says you where a hustler and a pimp before you where a rapper how did that influence your rhymes?
Musab: Hustling and pimpin is a part of my background and family upbringing so therefore its influence in my music is inevitable. My biggest thing is originality though so that’s why listeners will hear me coming from different angles. A lot of rappers you hear only cover one area of the hustlin and pimpin topic, I try to give the listeners a taste of the emotions I'm feeling inside about my lifestyle.
The pimp lifestyle is glamourised in pop culture especially in rap as a desirable lifestyle what is your take on it?
Musab: I don’t think the pimp's lifestyle is glamourised by the mainstream, I think they glamourise being a stud, the cool guy with a lot of women, money and vehicles, which is indeed things that a good pimp acquires throughout their career. As far as the hood goes, the pimp has always had fans. Back in the days the pimp was almost a character of folklore in the ghettos, he was a mysterious smooth dark figure that no one knew much about, whom also had a captivating magnetic attraction, he was sorta like Dracula.
That mystique is gone today because of the mainstream exposure, which in turn has influenced a lot of people to put the title of Pimp on themselves and over saturate the name. As far as it being a desirable lifestyle… um? I don’t judge people so I say if the shoe fits, wear it. At the same time I wouldn't recommend it for just anyone. Like in the sense I wouldn't recommend a kid with one arm to try and become a starting quarterback in the NFL. You have to have the right combination of physical and emotional endurance to execute the job correctly.
What forced you out of the street game and towards taking music seriously?
Musab: The murder of my friend and cousin Donald Glasgow. He was shot twice in the back of the head in the apartment we shared one night while I was out partying with other cousins. We were dealing dope then and this tragedy helped me come to a cross roads in my life. I knew if I didn't turn the coin I would probably share my friend's fate so I asked myself what it is I'm good at, and right away my answer was music. I met Ant about a year later and the rest is history.
You have been a member of several groups including The Headshots and The Dynospectrum how did that come about and do you prefer rapping with a collective or solo?
Musab: Those groups developed from being around other talented ambitious artist and recording non-stop for a couple of winters. Those were good times but I’m down to leave them where they're at, in the past.
What prompted your name change from Beyond to Musab?
Musab: I out grew the name Beyond. I knew with that name I could not go to the level of artistry I'm at right now and be taken seriously. I knew back then I wanted to make the music I'm making today but I was not capable, I had to grow as an artist, and as a man to make the songs I've made on the Slick's Box and Beyond was not capable. So therefore I go by my real name, Musab.
I was surprised to see you list such diverse figures as Bruce Lee, Steve Jobs, Brad Pitt, Albert Einstein and Hulk Hogan as your influences, what did you take from these people in relation to your music?
Musab: As you know I didn't have a father or a male role model growing up, so I learned to adapt and almost mimic very successful men. Each of the people mentioned are very different but each have a very significant contribution of some form to the world we live in. That is why I make music, to contribute to hiphop and somehow the world. Maybe my songs will influence a kid who grew up in my predicament to achieve success.
In the UK Prince is the most famous artist to come from Minnesota. Have you ever had the chance to work with him and if not would you like to?
Musab: I've never met him but I'd love to work with him. He's one the greatest music artist of all time.
Tell us about your latest album The Slick Box?
Musab: Slick's Box is a musical documentary that encompasses everything I am as a human. The father, the Muslim, the mack, the rapper, the genius, the business man, and most of all the bastard welfare kid screaming out "I wanna be somebody"! It also represents the strength and stubbornness I got from my mom. Many obstacles were set in front of me during the creation of this album and I persevered. I love it.
Your new sound and direction draw controversy amongst underground rap fans mainly due to your provocative pimp slur, what do you say to those critics?
Musab: I say thanks for listening 🙂 I don’t make music for critics so I don't pay any mind to them. Anyhow I haven't heard that much negative criticism, I've only seen like two reviews trying to beat me up and the rest have been outstanding, no less than 4's homie. And as far as the pimp slur goes, a lot of people that listen to underground rap aren't from the environment that I'm from so I don’t expect them to relate to it, but I got some heat for them too. It's called versatility people! Plus they gotta admit, I'm so good at that shit 🙂
You have a track which samples the Led Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love do you think rock and rap have a place together and if so which rock bands would you like to collaborate with?
Musab: I say they must because every time the two are meshed together magic happens. Ever since RUN DMC and Aerosmith did "Walk this way" the public has responded hysterically. I grew up in the 80's so classic rock is my era just as much as hiphop, I love rock. Matter fact, if I could sing, the hell with rap, I'd be a real rock star banging my head on the monitors letting supermodels do lines off my stomach… hahaha 🙂 Yeah! Oh, I'd love to collab with The Killers, they're the shiznit.
You’ve been in the rap game 11 years what are the major changes you‘ve seen and do you think it was better way back then?
Musab: Many things have changed, some are good, some are bad. I'm not like some of these bitter old hiphoppers hating on everything new that comes, let the kids have their fun, hiphop is meant to party to. What concerns me though is there isn't much originality or versatility, back in the days the biggest taboo in rap was biting but I guess that’s not the case anymore. I'm not to concerned with other rappers music though, thats just more reason the people should go buy Slick's Box. In other words I don't expect nobody to be better than.
Have you heard any U.K artists and if so what did you think of the U.K hip hop scene?
Musab: I haven't heard much out the UK, you gotta put me up on some things.
What can we expect next from you?
Musab: More dope music, I'm on a mission to be heard.
By: Alex Humphrey