For those of you unfamiliar with the principal of Ramadan, it's essentially an annual observance of Islam where Muslims worldwide have to fast daily for an entire month between dawn and sunset. It's already a sacrifice most of us would never be willing to make, but imagine having the dedication to stick with it, even amidst a 50-date rap tour? That's what our homie Tajai of Souls of Mischief is currently dealing with, smack-dab in the middle of their 20th anniversary Still Infinity Tour, wrapping August 25.
So how does one go about upholding their religious commitments, regardless of exhaustion, stress, travel restrictions, non-stop parties, creative frustration, and just general hunger? To give you an idea, Tajai agreed to contribute a tour diary to the site, updating us on the daily grind of life on the road, with a twist.
This past couple weeks has been both LIVE and difficult. Still Infinity is steamrolling ahead with no end in close sight, and everyone’s spirits are high. We are at about the All Star Break of the tour, with some of us headed home from Florida (more on that later) and others enjoying the heat that the Southeast has to offer.
Since the last entry, not only has the Holy Month of Ramadan gone into full swing, but we also have borne witness to the Zimmerman Verdict and its subsequent protests, debates and dialogue. These are wild times and I am happy to be sampling people from all over’s responses to the verdict. It truly is a testament to how diverse our country is in opinions, walks of life and perspectives.
First off, many have asked me how I maintain during the fast that is an obligatory part of the observation of Ramadan (roughly 7/8-8/8 this year). As many may know, the Islamic calendar is lunar, so the month of Ramadan moves back 11 days in relation to the calendar we observe in America, which is solar. Thus, the month can be in any season depending on what year it is.
During this Ramadan, we fast in the hours between morning prayer (about 4:30 AM) and evening prayer (about 8:45 PM) or roughly, sunup to sundown. Obviously, these summer days are HARD, as they last long. Not only are you supposed to fast from food, but also from other vices, one of which is ANGER, which, in these current times (and in a Mercedes Sprinter full of Type-A personalities) can be difficult. However, I feel extremely serene and blessed to be fasting during these times.
Not EATING (especially when we are in the Dirty South, home of comfort food – SHOUTOUT SOUL VEG in the A!) has been kind of hard. Let’s just say I have been eating a lot of Waffle House in the middle of the night, and I have a “Blender Bottle” that I have been making Muscle Milk shakes with so I can stay buff (lmao).
Ramadan is my favorite time of year because it gives me a sense of kinship with other Muslims and the poor, and keeps me reflective and positively self-conscious. Tour is hardest because you miss your family (I have beautiful children back home) but the camaraderie amongst Muslims that I meet on the road has made this longing for family easier to bear. It also helps me to see my connection with other people rather than my separation, which, in these trying times, is very important.
As far as the shows go, they have been GREAT. One of my favorite memories since the last entry was hanging with 9th Wonder and CogNito from Mass Influence in Raleigh. 9th started a Zulu Nation chapter in Raleigh and the Zulus represented strong at that show. That brother is an upstanding gentleman, a scholar and someone who really cares about Hip Hop CULTURE. The Raleigh show was the same night as the Zimmerman verdict (I hoped for manslaughter, but hoping is for suckers) but it was good to be able to spread some love and focus on unity on such a divisive, painful night.
My other highlight was hanging with Diamond D in Atlanta. His first album was part of the inspiration behind the creation of 93 til Infinity, so to see him still doing his thing, and us still doing our thing 20+ years later was a true joy. I also picked up some sick artwork in Winston-Salem. Shoutout GUMMY SOUL, they have been keeping it live with classics and ILL blends every night!
Overall, I have felt the entire gamut of emotions during this fast, often at extreme levels. I have seen the senseless destruction of property in my home city through social media and news, and that saddens me. I have also seen the positive, peaceful protests throughout the nation and that gives me hope that dialogue on the poor state of race relations in America is being sparked. Somewhere between these extremes I hope that we all are able to sit back, reflect, and see the beauty of life and how we all can nurture and develop TOGETHER. Hip Hop was created in that spirit.
Be sure to check out The Kitchen, Hiero's new album that just dropped—their first new release in ten years!
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