Description: An interview with the x rap star EverLast and his journey to Islam. Part 1.
By Adisa Banjoko (interviewer)
Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006
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> Stories of New Muslims
Rap music has seen more than its share of influence
from the religion of Islam. With groups such as Public Enemy rapping about
their respect for the Nation of Islam, to people such as Q-Tip of a Tribe
Called Quest embracing mainstream Islam, the religion seems to be a recurrent
theme in the genre, both impacting lyrics and lives. One artist more recently
touched by Islam is Eric Schrody, better known in music circles as Everlast.
While Everlast began his musical career as a rap
artist, he has recently shown himself to have much greater depth and diversity.
His current album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues (currently ranked #49 on
billboard’s charts after peaking at #9) exhibits this in its reflective and
somewhat philosophical tone, showing glimpses of the influence Islam has had on
What follows is an interview in which Everlast
discusses his journey to Islam and the challenges he faces as a new Muslim.
AB: Tell me about the first time you learned
E: It was probably around the late 80’s. I was
hangin’ out with Divine Styler (a popular Los Angeles rap artist). He was
basically at the end of his 5% period (referring to the pseudo-Islamic “Nation
of Gods and Earths” sect). He was starting to come into Islam. He lived with
the Bashir family. Abdullah Bashir was sort of his teacher; and mine it wound
up later. As he was making the transition from 5% into Islam, I would just be
around and hear things.
I’m trying to think of the first time I
recognized it as Islam. I think it was when one of Divine’s friends took Shahadah
(the Muslim profession of faith) and I was there. I heard him say, “I bear
witness that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the servant and
messenger.” And I remember me being like, “What is this? I’m white. Can I be
here?” It was outta ignorance, you know? ‘Cause here in America, Islam is considered a “Black thing.” And that’s when someone pointed out to me, “You have no
idea how many white Muslims there are in the world.” I was like, “Really,” and
somebody broke it down. I said, “That’s crazy. I had no clue.”
AB: Do you feel any extra pressure being a white
Muslim in America?
E: I don’t think of it on the grand scale. To
me, Islam is mine. Allah is the God of all the worlds, and all mankind and all
the Aalameen (worlds/universe). Islam is my personal relationship with God. So
nobody can put any more pressure on me than I can put on myself. But as far as
the mosque where I pray, I have never felt more at home or more welcome. And
it’s not just mine. The few mosques that I’ve gone to around the country, I’ve
never ever been made to feel uncomfortable. Like in New York, the mosque is
big and there’s so many people that nobody is lookin’ to notice you. There
were Chinese, Korean, Spanish - everything, which was a good thing for me
because at my mosque I’m the only white male, [although] there are some white
I think at first, I thought about it more than
anybody else the first couple times I went to Jumma (the Friday congregational
prayer). The first time I went to Jumma, I was taken by a friend of mine in New York. It was in Brooklyn in Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvestant). I was nervous about the
neighborhood I was in, not the mosque. But I was just so at ease once I was
there. I was like, “This is great.” I didn’t feel any different than anybody
else in the mosque.
AB: How did your family take your turning to
Islam? Because you were raised Catholic, right?
E: Well, you know my mom is very open minded,
very progressive. My mother lives with me. And I’ve been raised all my life
with not a belief in God, but a knowledge that he exists. I was taught [that]
if [I were to know] anything in the world, [I should] know there’s a God. And
my mom, even though she was Catholic, she was the first person to point out
hypocrisy in the church. My mom really hasn’t attended church in a long time.
But as far as me, my mom is just happy that I have God in my life.
She sees me making prayers. And Divine is one
of her favorite people in the world. She knows how much different we are than
when she first knew us as kids. When me and Divine first hooked up, we were
wild. We were out partyin’, fightin’, doin’ whatever we had to do. We
thought, “Yeah, that’s what being a man is about. We’re gonna go out here and
[But] she has seen how much it’s changed me
and him; and how much peace it’s brought me since I’ve started to really
accomplish something with it. I actually had a long talk with my mother the
other day and we were on the topic of religion. We were actually talking about
life and death, and the future and when she might go (die, pass away). That
won’t be for a long time, inshallah (God willing). But I asked her to do me
one favor. I said, “Mom, when you die there might be some angels who ask you a
question, and I want you to answer it; and I’m not sure exactly how it goes, ‘cause
I ain’t died yet. Remember that there’s only one God, and he’s never been a
She said, “I know what you are trying to tell
me.” [And] I said, “Jesus wasn’t God, Ma.”
Some of what I know has definitely shown up in
my mother. She’s no Muslim, but she knows there’s only one God. And that
makes me very happy. I know guys that have turned towards Islam and their
families have turned them out (i.e. rejected them).