Kumasi Simmons is changing the world one tune at a time because music is too serious to be taken lightly.
Kumasi Simmons is one of those rare artists who believe and changing the world and making it a better place. Idealistic perhaps, but he sees music as a way to praise God, and to help God's creation with the money and fame that comes from it. For a young black American who grew up in Compton, this may be a very uncommon path. While his close buddies like Kanye West and The Game do their own thing, Kumasi combines rap with soul and R&B to portray the teachings of Islam. He first came into the limelight at a young age when he punched a white referee for making racist remarks about him, during a high school football game. Most people would have fallen on such a publicity to pursue a career in football but not Kumasi. Instead, he followed the call to perform music, a gift he discovered during a high school talent show.
Kumasi's current album, 'Let's Talk about It and Change the World' is doing very well on ITunes particularly for his brand of positive music. According to him, “Some people cry and some people reflect on God's greatness when they listen to my music.” He talked to Jamati about life, music, Islam, racism and violence in America, the future for black youths among many other topical issues.
Jamati: When did you discover your talent as a musician?
I began freestyling when I was in high school, and playing football. I began rapping because my mother said I was too serious and life is too short. I decided to become a musician when Allah gave me Islam, and I realized that music was made for the purpose of praising God.
Jamati: Who are your musical influences?
Starving children and the youth who gang-bang are the people who influence the music I do. I do real good feel-good music that is used to invite people to worship God; respect women, and be leaders instead of following gangs and other bad examples.
Jamati: Why this kind of music?
I write songs to praise God. That is the only reason to do music. I sing about God. Praising God is the meaning of life. If you do not know yourself, it may be because you do not know God. You know God by knowing God's Attributes.
Jamati: What inspires you to write your songs?
The fact that one day I may be able to help feed homeless children, God willing. I have an album on ITunes entitled “Let's Talk about It and Change the World”. The money that comes from these albums goes to feed the orphans at Zion Orphanage and Shine on Sierra Leone school.
Jamati: What do you hope to achieve with your music?
I pray to unite Muslims, Christians, and Jews. I pray to help cure homelessness of children. I pray to come to the aid of Orphans. I pray to be an example for people in the ghettos around the world to love God and their brothers instead of gang-banging and hating. I pray to please God and the Prophets that God sent with the music I do God willing. I would like to work with any artist who believes that we can better the world through celebrating God.
Jamati: How did you meet Kanye West?
I knew Kanye before he had his first album. He was actually recording his first album. I introduced Kanye to Nelly and The Game. I thank God for Kanye and pray for him as well. Malik Yusef introduced me to Kanye. Malik Yusef is a Godsend to me and is like a brother.
Jamati: Why the name Kumasi?
I am a pan-African born in Compton. This means that I belong to all of Africa, the entire Diaspora of Africa. My parents named me Kumasi to honour the Ashanti Warriors and all others who are warriors in Africa. I pray to get to Ghana and visit Kumasi and see the people of Ghana. I pray they accept me.
Jamati: Was it tough growing up in Compton?
Yes. It was like, keep to yourself and you will be ok. If you want to gang-bang, be prepared to die. The saying or the motto is 'Kill or be Killed'. You have to kill first or be killed. Like a video game.
Jamati: How does that influence your music?
I do music to help the youth stop being violent; if I write a song about how dangerous it is in the hood, God willing, it will have a positive chorus or hook.
Jamati: Were you ever involved in any crime growing up?
I was never involved in crime. God would not like that. I need God in everything I do. I do not want to upset God.
Jamati: Do you advise Kanye or the Game, who sometimes promote violence in the music? I don't speak to Kanye West, Nelly, Game, Common, the Roots, or any other of my music friends about music. The media asks them enough questions about music. When we are together, it is a time to relax and not think about music. If I was able to speak to them about music, I would say; Music is too serious to be taken lightly. We need to all come together and heal the planet with the money we make. We need to raise money and get grants so we can give to the homeless children, the orphans, the sick, and the poor. This is why we are famous. We are famous to use it for a good purpose, not for the women and nice things.
Jamati: You punched a white referee for passing a racist comment about you some time back. Do you think racism is still an issue in America and what's your opinion on racism?
Justice is what I fight for. We are born with the spirit of warriors. If you are not a warrior, you can not become one. If you do not love justice you can not make yourself love justice. We can not waste time with who is racist. Some of us are racist as well. We should focus on Justice. God is Just. This is an attribute of God.
Jamati: How do you feel about the general opinion that Islam promotes violence?
Islam means Peace, Purity and Submission. Peace can not mean violence. Mad can not mean happy. Islam can not mean violence.
Jamati: What is your wish for black youths in America and around the world?
I pray for us to get to the promise land that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about. I pray that we love each other and not see each other as competition. I pray that we can all serve God and represent God and not gangs and tribes. I pray that we can all share so there will be no more people in need. I pray that we all are graced with Paradise.
Jamati: Do you still play football?
Jamati: Why did you choose a career in music over football?
God is perfect. You can teach the youth in a song better than you can teach them on the football field or as a model of actor. I use music to be a teacher and example by God's permission
Jamati: What have been the highlights of your music career?
When God sent me the song “Amazing Grace”.
Jamati: Are you looking forward to winning any awards with your music?
I want to win the awards that GOD has. Award shows can keep their trophies. I want God to be pleased with me.