Big HasS: How did your bond with Hip-Hop surface in your life?
Mona Haydar: I was in Syria this one summer with my older sister and we were staying with our grandmother. It was back in the cd-player days and my sister had brought a few cds with her and one of them was Mos Def's Black on Both sides. I just remember being so shook by that album and feeling so connected to it and him through that music. In some ways, I even ended up doing my Masters graduate work as a result of that album too.
BH: The conflict of being from both worlds: how do you balance the scale?
MH: I'm Barbarican. Not totally this and not totally that and yet I am whole and good because this is how God made me and where God put me. Just have to trust in the Divine plan and keep it moving. Barbarican is about balancing-- loving all the parts of myself and learning to heal the colonial wounds within me so that I can emerge fully realized in the path of my ancestors.
BH: Some argue that feminism is borderline unacceptable in Islam, what are your thoughts on that statement and how do you encourage women to break out from the shells and voice out their rights?
MH: Feminism is the sunnah. Muhammad, Alayhisalaam (PBUH), was a feminist. He abolished patriarchal practices and advocated for women's rights. Muslims love them some Jahiliyyah though. It's so sad. Women are the strongest creatures in the world. I admire and love women so much. We create humans inside of our bodies from nothing and then birth them into existence. God gave women the ability to physically witness creation. Women need to own their power as beings in society whether or not men are willing to recognize.
BH: Barbarican, starting from the title, we are already drawn into an explicit attack towards social norms. Do you think that its crucial nowadays to say things unapologetically and more bluntly - and skip diplomacy?
MH: I believe in eloquence- beauty- elegance but I also believe in reality and Truth telling. There is a balance that can be struck where you tell the truth in such a way that it doesn't break anything-- even when it is a difficult truth. I use humor in the EP- I use rhythm and rhyme- I use melodies and harmonies- I use fun hooks and catchy grooves to bring people in gently to some of the difficult truths I'm trying to share.
BH: Who are women leaders who inspire you?
MH: I'm inspired by women and men alike. I'm inspired by amazing trees and bears and lions too. Do you often ask male rappers about which males they look up to? Just curious?
My answer is "Yes, I do."
BH: In what way has motherhood strengthened your convictions and pursuit for a more just and human world?
MH: Motherhood is cool and really hard. I love my kids and I want the best world possible for them and so I'm going to do everything in my power to try and make that better world a reality.
BH:Tell us about the collaboration with Offendum ?
MH: I've known Omar a long time and really love his artistry. We've shared stages before and it's always good vibes. I hit him up and shared the hook I'd written to 'Miss Me.' He loved it and wanted to feature on the song. I was recording with my producers JB and Corron in LA and he came to the studio and laid down his verse. It was super fun. I hope we get to do a video.
BH: Would you be interested to visit Dubai, UAE for a speaking/performance opportunity?
MH: Of course! I hope to be able to bring the music to a worldwide audience on a tour inshaAllah. In the process of figuring all that out right now.
BH: Any last words for Re-Volt Readers
MH: Go stream the EP! 3>