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Last week when I opened Facebook, I saw a video that I just couldn’t stop watching. At first I thought it was a joke, and then I wasn’t so sure.
Karter Zaher and Jae Deen are part of a rap collective called Deen Squad. As of publishing time, their video for the track, ‘Muslim Queen’ had over three million views on Facebook. In it, Karter and Jae rap eloquently about their longing for a girl in a hijab. In another track dubbed, “Friday” the two are seen driving to the mosque while singing about weekly prayers.
This goes out to all the righteous lovers! #MuslimQueen With my main brother Jae Deen ✌#DeenSquad Forever! “Share” and Tag Your Friends If You Enjoyed! <3
Posted by Karter Zaher on Sunday, June 7, 2015
At first I thought it was a parody, but then realized that if this whole thing is some kind of a joke, these guys are seriously committed to it. They have done interviews with sites like Hijabi Trendz, discussing their passion for making wholesome music. I also found out that Karter is actually Lebanese, although he now lives in Canada.
So I did the good Beirut.com contributor thing and sent them an email. Their manager replied quickly. (Yes, they have a manager.)
And so here folks, is the lowdown on these wholesome Muslim rappers.
Karter actually lived in Lebanon for a few years. He completed grades 6-8 here before leaving in 2006 due to the war. Spending much of his time in Jnoub, he credits his cultural background with influencing his music.
“I like to incorporate Arabic words and Arabian melodies into my music. I am a big fan of the Arabic sound!” Karter told Beirut.com.
As for Karter’s sidekick, Jae, he was born and raised in Canada but has Ghanaian heritage, actually hailing from a “Christian tribe.”
The bros met each other at university in Ottawa in one of their English classes. According to Karter, the two connected one day through a freestyle rap session following the class.
“I saw sincere potential in Jae Deen and I knew he had so much passion for making a difference in the world. We were both on the same page in terms of our style of music and complimented each other quite well when we collaborated and so everything just flourished from then on,” said Karter.
He continued to explain that their style, “is to make positivity, spirituality, and being a good person the coolest thing for the youth. We are perhaps going against the odds since most successful artists preach the materialistic life and life of fantasies but we are dedicated to uniting the people, no matter what race, religion or culture they are.”
And so then I asked, are you guys actually serious? I just had to ask.
“The ultimate objective of inspiring the young people and guiding them on the right path is completely serious, but we just have fun doing it. We laugh, we joke and express happiness when doing it, because we actually love performing together.”
Regardless of what I think, Karter has nearly 700,000 followers on Facebook and thousands of comments, both positive and negative. Speaking about the criticism, Karter said, “The criticism is never really about the art but rather how the message is being conveyed. Many Muslims find it irrational to preach a positive message using musical instruments and so there are always debates and negative comments about that.”
For now, I’m just hoping I can find a way to see these guys perform live or at least meet them in person. Karter said he plans to head to Lebanon for the summer with his manager. So, maybe we can meet up for a drink in… oh wait, he raps about that. He definitely doesn’t drink.
See more from Karter on Facebook/a> and YouTube.