With all the proceeds going to those in the world who are in need, as apposed to a new car or dozens of Nike Airs. Those included in the line of charity will be the innocent souls in Gaza, who remain in the line of fire after over sixty years of oppression.
Nino: A year ago I would have started by welcoming ‘Osiris’, as opposed to Tai... what changed that made you change as an artist?
Tai Mahmud: I wanted to become more ‘clean’ in my work, because even if the content of work sounds political I have still kept it clean. I also hope it will encourage others to do the same. I believe it is more of a skill to not swear in any you record. I think people are playing the easy card if they do that. If all swearing is taken out of all 2 Pac, Master P, 50 Cent, NWA - I wonder how much of the lyrics will be left - it won’t be an hour it will probably be 10 minutes!
Nino: Are you listening to different stuff than you used to also?
Tai Mahmud: Yes - completely. For instance, instead of listening to generic hip-hop I tend to listen to anything that’s on. If I hear anything with profanity in it I tend to switch it off.
Nino: What was the last track you bought / downloaded?
Tai Mahmud: Lyfe Jennings - “Must be Nice” it’s a feel-good track. I think he’s a good artist and one of the last one’s out there.
Nino: As a Muslim, do you find there are large areas of the hip hop scene you avoid dipping your fingers in?
Tai Mahmud: Yeah I do. I don’t go out in this scene anymore and tend to stay away from any music or videos that have profanity in it.
Nino: As a parent do you worry about the levels of ignorance, violence and misogyny that are so rife in mainstream culture?
Tai Mahmud: Definitely, especially as I have a daughter and wish her to grow up confident in who she is. It is also important that artists conduct themselves as if they are the parent of their fans.
Nino: How would you describe your verbal content?
Tai Mahmud: Tenacious.
Nino: What would you say you are trying to achieve as an artist?
Tai Mahmud: A noble sense of dignity within me and I also hope others will listen to what I have to say and change their perspective on current affairs. I don’t want to brainwash anyone, instead I hope to encourage them to keep an open mind to put the pieces together logically themselves.
Nino: Do you think it’s obvious, when listening to other artists’ work, whether they are ‘being themselves’ or trying to be somebody else?
Tai Mahmud: Yes, you can hear it straight away and sometimes it’s embarrassing to listen to them because I know it’s not them. No offence to anyone who may be reading this, but if you feel angry about what I say I would say it’s time to look into yourself.
Nino: Is it a phase that is vital to the creative process?
Tai Mahmud: I think it is imperative to be yourself because if you are not, you will struggle writing.
Nino: Is hip hop powerful any more, or just pretending to be?
Tai Mahmud: Just pretending to be, because if you flick on the TV hip hop has become an ecstasy junkyard filled with RnB testosterone. It is stuck and is not evolving. Nas is wrong, Hip Hop isn’t dead, but it is dying.
Nino: Does the British hip hop scene have one over the Americans when it comes to ‘realness’?
Tai Mahmud: At the moment it does because the Americans only want to make money. I hope the ‘realness’ of the British hip hop scene will not fall victim to this.
Nino: Have you written many poems / tracks that you would never really consider making public? If so, how many?
Tai Mahmud: Yes, probably about nine and these are personal ones which I read regularly.
Nino: Tell us a bit about some of the other artists you’ve worked with, and why you chose to work with them.
Tai Mahmud: I tend not to work or collaborate with many people on a track as I think it takes a little away from it being your own song. Sometimes when I listen to others’ tracks it seems they are just trying to fill in the gaps - cruise lining instead of life boating into stores. I’ve worked with producers such as Ill Thought Process and Vietnamese producer, DmG because they are open-minded and do not conform to the industry standard productions and always think outside the box. They also try not to sample and are successful in doing so. They work to the artist as opposed to the artist working to them. This is crucial in negotiating a successful track. I have also worked with F-Nik and also Terence Mas. Terence featured some vocals on my track “The Fire” and it was one way of ending it smoothly. Look out for Terence, he’s not your average RnB dude.
Nino: The countdown for Obama is almost reaching its end, how do you as a human being, a hip hop head, and a Muslim feel about him?
Tai Mahmud: I think he’s alright, but I think people are getting carried away too much. Give him a year and I will be able to answer properly on this.
Nino: The situation in Gaza is undeniably horrific. With death tolls rising way above 1000 and a complete ethnic cleansing massacre in full swing, is hip hop speaking out enough?
Tai Mahmud: No it is not! Even if they haven’t got tracks highlighting this they should dedicate them to this horrific situation. I think most are worried about sales and if they aren’t their record labels are. Like pop acts, Hip Hop artists are puppets on a string if they are signed to major labels. If I ever do sign from my current label to a major one it will be on my terms. I have been offered one major contract but they were not willing to donate to charity from the sale of my records, and it sums major labels up.
Nino: Why do you think so many people are hesitant to speak out?
Tai Mahmud: They are worried about sales or they are worried about getting in trouble. Major labels have a covert eye looking at them. People sometimes worry about putting themselves in a situation which they may not know how to deal with.
Nino: What’s your reaction to some of the clashes outside the Israeli embassy between protestors and the police over the past few weeks?
Tai Mahmud: I find it difficult to comprehend how something peaceful, involving children can descend into these clashes. I think it’s awful and those protesters who used violent force only incriminate the cause further and allow justification for Israeli views if the British public only see a snapshot of what happened outside the Israeli embassy.
Nino: Tell us about your track dedicated to the cause... where do we get it?!
Tai Mahmud: Yes. ‘The Night Listener’ is about a girl I met in London who sought asylum from Afghanistan. She saw her family killed in front of her in clashes between UK and Taliban forces. She and her sister ran away and she then saw her shot after being hassled and handled by soldiers. She wanted her sister’s story heard and after I met her I tried to emphasise this through my track - what it might have been like for her sister in her final hours. I don’t know where this girl (Asiya) has gone now, but the track will have proceeds go towards humanitarian aid in Gaza. I am sure she will understand because her situation is reflected in Gaza. There will be another track soon which will be dedicated to Afghan Aid. It will be available everywhere in the next month and the release date will be announced on my website. (http://www.taimahmud.com)
Nino: What would your advice be to anyone who wants to do their bit for the innocent civilians of Gaza?
Tai Mahmud: Donate as much as you can and talk to people about the situation, making sure of the facts first. Just talk, talk, talk. Use your talents for it - if you are a filmmaker make a film, if you are a singer, sing about it, if you are a runner, run for it, if you are a footballer, play football. Make sure whatever you do, make sure it is dedicated to them.
Nino: If Hamas were democratically elected, what makes them different to the Israeli government?
Tai Mahmud: The Israeli Government are acting as brutes. Hamas spoke out about Israel because Israeli soldiers were crossing the border into Gaza during the ceasefire period (prior to the current attacks) and shooting, beating, raping and providing a presence which made civilians nervous and anxious. That is the only reason Hamas fired the rockets. It is sad to see any life taken, but the amount of people Hamas injured is miniscule in comparison to that which Israel has accomplished and can only be likened to genocide.
What is going on in Gaza must strike a chord with Israel - what about the Warsaw Ghetto they experienced? What the Nazis did to them they are repeating in Gaza. Israel is funded by the US and people need to realise the US Government is not condemning their actions but encouraging them by saying Hamas are terrorists. What is also forgotten is that the founders of Israel (formed by taking away land that was Palestinian) were considered terrorists by the British.
When I switched on the news this morning, I heard that Israel had stopped their assaults on Gaza stating that they had accomplished everything they needed to but Hamas was still firing rockets when they were leaving. This just indicates that their supposed ‘strategic attacks’ are malicious and were intended to try and extinguish the Palestinian people and claim back Gaza despite their assertion to the contrary. After this, Palestine will have no leg to stand on economically and Israel will jump in and say they will help in the same way US did with Iraq. One thing people need to realise is it is the Israeli Government and not the Israeli people.
Nino: Is there ever going to be a two state solution?
Tai Mahmud: At this point in time, I don’t think so.
Nino: Are the Foreign Commonwealth Office doing enough?
Tai Mahmud: Not at all. They are only doing what the US government wants them to do. There had been spokespeople for the UK, but their exposure has been minimal.
Nino: What’s the point of the UN if they make laws, break laws, and then stand back and frown without going into to help at times of humanitarian crisis?
Tai Mahmud: That is because the United Nations IS the United States being found by them after the Second World War. Their HQ is in New York and pretty much under the influence of the United States. The point of them being there is to be the mask of the United States, a disguise for people, a holographic light at the end of the tunnel. This is why the UN didn’t punish them for Iraq. The US and UK funded and trained Al-Queda but no one speaks out about this. EVERYTHING is planned and this is facilitated by the UN.
Nino: Obama has promised to close down Guantanamo Bay, how do you feel about the idea of the US taking none of the detainees, and handing them all over to the British?
Tai Mahmud: It would be a very good idea to hand them over to the British - as there is a greater understanding over here, but the only thing that worries me is the ‘detention without charge’ and they will be exchanging one indefinite imprisonment for another.
Nino: Do you think you’ll keep on dropping lines forever?
Tai Mahmud: I think it will be humorous to see me spitting lines with my dentures in and holding onto a walking frame! I would like to see that to make myself laugh.
Nino: Tell us about the company you run.
Tai Mahmud: The company is basically a conduit for musicians / actors / filmmakers to receive everything they need from promotion and marketing to music videos and graphic design. Sometimes people need some guidance to get to where they want to be and with the massive team we operate with we will surely give them that platform to step up onto.
Nino: Could you drop us a few lines now? (could be off the top of your head / from an existing track...)
Tai Mahmud: Lyrical energies and synergies are incredibly typical, my mental entity is readily able to spit at you// using a deadly melody to dispatch the lethal density effortlessly to ridicule// opening doors to exit your electricity and detaching your pedestal, I verbally get at you// a tendency of lucrative lexical executable ludicrous oral chemicals is a vocal particular to an extracurricular incredible//
Nino: What plans have you got for the rest of this year?
Tai Mahmud: To continue working and getting my music out to the people necessary to make those crucial decisions. Also help my daughter to attain her full potential; I believe I can do this through my work and my business by letting her see I am helping people and how important it is to do this.
Nino: Have you got any final shout outs, words of advice or public statements you want to make?
Tai Mahmud: Yeah, first to my boy Sheldon aka Ill Thought Process for being there as much a he can, even when he doesn’t have to be. Terence Mas for just being that funny guy who lightens the mood singing in the most weirdest of places (everywhere). Blue Collar for being a great friend and being part of the production team, and also my daughter Shaya and her mother for lightening my life. I want people to realise that we are conditioned through life through school, college, university and although they are great places to improve your knowledge on subject matter, it is only a platform. Make sure that you contribute as much as you can to releasing the truth that not all is what it seems and we are ignorant to be tabloid junkies and eat the fruit as it is handed to us.