In this week’s podcast, The Muslim Vibe’s Director and Co-founder Haseeb Rizvi spoke to Malik Elarbi, a rapper and creative musician based in Seattle, Washington. Malik spoke of his 8-year journey up until now with the release of his new album, the joys and struggles of being Muslim while rapping, and finally how as a community we should help promote and respect the creative arts.
Listen to the full discussion here:
Malik Elarbi, whose family hails from Libya but was born and raised in Phillidalphia, is now based in Seattle, where he eventually moved to and now calls home. His new album, Eight Years Later My Bad, is a collection of songs that took years to finally bring together into one single album. When asked why it did take eight years to finally produce, Malik laughs and explains that it would not have happened any other way.
I wasn’t going to put this album out until I felt good about it, my parents felt good about it, and the people closest to me felt good about it.”
It took a while to convince his parents as well, explains Malik. While he was always interested in acting and music, Malik was constantly told to keep these as hobbies and instead pursue a degree and career in engineering or medicine. He eventually did do this, and after graduating university and landing a good job, began to slowly reach back to his passion in music. When Malik’s music began to gain traction within his own community, with people coming up his parents and praising them for his music, Malik began to see a small change in his parents. They too were beginning to see how powerful his music really was.
There is a huge different between being a rapper who is Muslim and a Muslim rapper. There are things you can talk about without even saying you’re a Muslim. I wanted to stay as open-minded as possible so other people could relate too.”
With a renewed focus on music, Malik was determined to balance his rap with his faith. He admits however, to going through a period of a few years where he absolutely refused to listen to music, believing it was haraam. His journey with music is something that we all balance as Muslims, and while Malik believes in the power of creative art, he stresses the need for each Muslim to understand if music is halal or haraam for them individually.
My goal was to never mix religion and music. I look at them as two different, very seperate things. If you think its haraam, then don’t listen to music. But if you think its halal, then of course you can. We shouldn’t ever feel the need to change our religion.”
As a musician, Malik strongly believes in the power of the creative arts, and staying true to one’s own creative expressions. He also hopes that other Muslims as well will recognize the power in the creative arts in expressing one’s own unique place in the world. By simply being true to oneself, and being a good person, this will automatically make you a better Muslim, Malik states. For Malik, the power of rap and music has made him better connect with himself, his community, and his faith, and believes that by doing what you love you’ll end up being someone who loves the world and God better.