Readers and lovers of music, I apologize for how long it took to get this interview out. This is what happens when you forget your Youtube password…but I digress.
Last summer, I met two amazing young men, Karter Zaher and Jae Deen. Together, they make the rap duo Deen Squad. And together, they’re changing the way people think of Islam and Muslims through their music.
When I think of Islam, of being a Muslim, I think of my mother. Growing up, she taught my brothers and me stories from the Qur’an, like she was reading us religious bedtime stories. That was her entire approach to the religion; Islam was about stories to be told and lessons to be learned. To her, one’s relationship to the religion was deeply personal, not to be forced upon anyone or judged in any way. Despite living while Arab in a post 9/11 world, and all the baggage and bad press that came with that, I’ll always have that positive association with the religion, because of my mom. When I listened to Deen Squad’s music, I felt that familiar positivity, and it endeared me to them immediately.
Deen Squad is a Canadian-Muslim hip-hop group from Ottawa. Karter and Jae started making music together in 2014. With their huge social media following and a knack for racking up the YouTube views, Deen Squad are spreading a message of peace and positivity. And because that message is deeply rooted in their faith, they are more than doing their part to change the way the world views Muslims and Islam as well. Check out their video for “Covergirl”. The song was released for International Women’s Day last year and features more than 50 influential women from 17 different countries, who all rock the hijab.
Man I love that video. So you can see why I had to meet the young men behind the music. I got the chance to chat with Deen Squad, nearly a year ago now, and since then they’ve been putting out more amazing music and thought-provoking content. They’ve headlined shows here in Canada, and even opened for Justin Bieber in the Middle East. They’ve got tons of new music out there, including a mixtape curated for Ramandan. Learn more about the boys on their website and socials below, and enjoy the interview that was almost forgotten (but how could it be?).
*shot and edited by Matthew Haskill