Behind the Music… There were Muslims (Hamza Pérez and Napoleon of Tupac Shakur’s Outlawz)

Everyone’s been talking about the film New Muslim Cool (by P.O.V.) and while the directing and editing seems impressive, and the storyline seems engaging– What really got me was the music. Close your eyes and play the trailer again.

(For those who don’t know what I am talking about):

“See more at Coming to national PBS this June, NEW MUSLIM COOL follows three years in the lives of Puerto Rican American Muslim hip-hop artist Hamza Pérez, his family, and community. Taking viewers on a ride through the streets, projects, and jail cells of urban America, the film follows Hamza’s spiritual journey as he finds new discoveries and friends in some surprising places — where we can all see ourselves reflected in a world that never stops changing.”

Epic, right? Hamza Pérez sounds awesome and apparently the soundtrack for this is coming out in July. I’m looking forward to more details.

But it seems like Hamza Pérez isn’t the only Muslim rapper that might get some lime light in the near future.

Napoleon and Tupac

Napoleon and Tupac

Just recently it’s been announced that there will be a feature length Documentary was in the works about the life of Mutah Beale, tentatively titled “The NapoleonProject” ( featuring Mutah Beale a.k.a Napoleon of Tupac Shakur’s Outlawz.

Seeing the website, honestly, I was first unimpressed but reading the synopsis stopped cold in my tracks:

‘What is you’re earliest memory?’

If you ask Mutah Beale this question, he’ll tell you that his earliest memory involves his mother. He remembers biting on her skin trying to wake her up after she (and his father) were brutally shot to death in front of him and his siblings. With no parents left to care for them, Mutah and his siblings move to live with their grandmother. Surrounded by the poverty and corruption of the ghetto, Mutah turns to rap as an outlet for his frustrations and as hope for a way out.

After years of rapping, Mutah is introduced to a very well known rapper and is given the opportunity to rap for him. The well known rapper is Tupac Shakur. Tupac invites Mutah to join his crew, the Outlawz, and Mutah is instantly propelled into fame; but the high point of his life is soon followed by the lowest. Mutah’s grandmother, who took him in as an orphan, passes away. He learns first hand that money can’t buy happiness as he struggles to cope with this tragic loss.

But if money can’t give you happiness, what can? To distract himself from this question and from the pain of his grandmother’s death, Mutah continues rapping. But this question soon reemerges when his friend and leader Tupac is murdered; followed by the murder of his childhood friend Yufea.

Is this really THE life? Is violence and pain all that there is? The only answer Mutah can come up with devastates and depresses him. He takes refuge in drugs and alcohol as a distraction from the sad reality he believes to be life.

One day Mutah gets into a violent fight with his youngest brother. After they’re pulled apart, a stranger tries to calm Mutah down and asks him the question that would change his life forever.

‘Are you a muslim?’

Something inside Mutah inclined him to say ‘Yes’ even though he knew little to nothing about the religion.

Now curious about the religion he instinctively said he belonged to, Mutah begins to research Islam. He quickly comes to realized that this was the way he wants to live his life and takes the Shahada (Muslim declaration of faith). He makes Hajj (the pilgrimage to Makkah) and for the first time in his life, feels at peace.

After having all the materialistic things that so many long for, Mutah left it all to pursue the humble life of a Muslim. He now spends his days, warning youth of the deceptions of fame and encourages them all to seek the truth of Islam.”

Wow… what a powerful story. However, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see which productions company will pick this up.

P.O.V.? Unity Productions Foundation? The list could go on…


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