Since he was in high school, social studies teacher David Muhammad has wanted to make a hip hop album. He was in a hip hop group with three friends in high school, where he and his friends would record multiple songs. In college, Muhammad wrote and performed spoken word poetry, which is where he got used to performing on a stage.
In his first year of teaching, Muhammad and a friend began working on an album, until his friend unexpectedly passed away, which stopped Muhammad from completing his first album. Since then, he has rapped for fun at coalition concerts and incorporated his rhymes into his classroom with funny, lesson-related rhymes to get his students excited to learn.
But finally, Muhammad is making his first album.
Muhammad announced about a year ago that he was making an album, and opened a GoFundMe page. The idea of the page is for anyone that supports Muhammad as a teacher and a person, to donate to the production costs of his album.
“The production alone costs quite a bit,” Muhammad said. “So I opened up the GoFundMe to anyone that supports me to support the development and production of the album. As a high school teacher with a baby girl, my salary isn’t enough to cover production costs, so every dollar helps and is greatly appreciated.”
For those that donate, Muhammad will invite to a private listening party of the album before its release.
The idea for the album came from Muhammad’s love of the Hunger Games books and movies. He found that the story had a lot of relevance to society today, which is how he came up with the concept for his upcoming debut album.
“After seeing the movies and going through the books, I made sort of a cliff notes to them, but in hip hop form,” Muhammad said. “I took out all the symbolism, I just started making it almost like the outside looking in. How does this relate to society?”
Muhammad has infused teachings of hip hop in his classes since he began teaching, and has considered himself to be an avid fan of the music for as long as he can remember. With everything happening in the news, from racial tensions to the current political election, Muhammad has found the perfect time for his album to come out: summer 2016.
Musically, Muhammad says he approaches the album from an intellectual standpoint. The album will have lots of influence from jazz and orchestra-type music. He will include one live track, in hopes of delivering a “grass roots sound.”
“I’m going to bring in some spoken word artists to do some pieces, there will be interludes with conversations,” Muhammad said. “I have a girl that’s Palestinian whose witnessed war, and has seen refugees so she’s gonna talk on there, so i’m trying to make it a very heavy album musically.”
Muhammad clarifies that it won’t be an album to “dance to at the club,” but instead, an album that makes you really sit down and interpret the lyrics.
“It’s going to be a deep album,” Muhammad said. “It’s going to touch on race, and politics, and inequality with police brutality and revolutions and how they don’t necessarily work all the time. It’s also going to have some darker themes to it.”
One student who has donated to Muhammad’s GoFundMe is senior Charlie Jensen. Jensen is an avid member of Coalition, and has been very close to Muhammad this year especially.
“I think it’s cool what he’s trying to do,” senior Charlie Jensen said. “I have always personally enjoyed songwriting as a form of artistic expression, and I think that he’s got a really cool project going. I’m excited for the release for sure.”
Listen to a taste of what’s to come in Muhammad’s album in his freestyle below: