Together Al-J and Yusuf are Blak Madeen, an Islam-inspired duo that evokes the “conscious era” of hip hop of the late 80s and early 90s. Al-J tells it best: "I met Yusuf in 2005, I had cut a CD called Blak Ambitition and I was doing this show at the Western Front in Cambridge, MA. I bumped into this white kid wearing a kufi. He didn’t know me. I didn’t know him, but I gave him a CD. First thing he said to me, ‘Are you dropping knowledge on this?’ I was like, ‘Yeah,’ and I guess he liked it. We’ve been working with each other ever since.”
Boston hip hop promoter Ned Wellbery (Leedz Edutainment) nudged the two to work together. They discovered a shared passion for the music of Gang Starr, Public Enemy and Divine Styler. Al-J said their aim was to “carry the torch of the people who’ve gone before.” The group began releasing music in 2009 and their catalogue includes Supreme Aftermath (2016), as well as two EPs, Miltant Minds (a collaboration with Tragedy) in 2012, and One Second To Pray in 2018. Their latest offering is the album Dangerous Artform, released thru Chuck D's SpitSLAM Record Label Group.
Yusuf believes the timing is perfect for the project, considering the current geo-political climate. "Right now, a lot of the themes that we have always addressed are part of the public discussion, especially Islamophobia" he says. "I think these days people will be more interested to hear what we have to say. We are not claiming to be experts or saints or scholars, but we definitely have something to add to the dialogue."