Anyone with sound knowledge of Gambian hip hop will no doubt be aware of Mo Hawk (the rap khalifa) and the significant role he has played in bringing hip hop to the forefront of Gambian music. Heâ€™s still a rapper, promoter, producer, businessman and now a father.
Mo Hawk is an inspiration to most of the upcoming rappers. Despite all his successes in the music industry, the Pipeline rapper is still humble. In this interview, Whatâ€™s On â€“Gambia â€˜s Alieu Khan chats with him about music, family and future plans. Enjoy!
Whatâ€™s On- Gambia: How did you enter the rap business?
Mo Hawk: Well first and foremost, I love music since I was a child. But it wasnâ€™t easy because Iâ€™m from a very religious family.
I started my career in the late 1996 with the group, Da Fugitivz. Back then, there were only few rap groups like Black Nature and Pencha Bi.
Tazman was the one, who approached me to ask if I wanted to join a new group that he was planning to form. I liked the idea and decided to come on board.
But what happened to the group now?
Da Fugitivz was one of the most successful groups in The Gambia. Well, lot of things happened and we had to take a break. Some of us became parents and also we had few unsettled issues with the label that signed us.
Weâ€™ve been quiet since our last release in 2005. But before the break we recorded a full album at Double Dog Records in Sweden and that is yet to be released. Hopefully, we will come back for a heavy reunion.
You are known for supporting young musicians in The Gambia, can you tell us little about your project with them?
I work with different artists, from hip hop, reggae, mbalax to afro-manding. Some of them are part of The Block entertainment and these artists include Jali Madi, Alpha Omar a.k.a Daddy J, MC Mbye, Big Faa, Maana Oz, Jabel and few others.
What's your opinion about the Gambian music industry?
The artists need to work together and stop hating each other. Itâ€™s not helping the development of the industry.
You are studying to become a sound engineer. Any plans for the future?
Well my studies is more for my career and my future. I will return home inshallah, but not now. I want to explore the music industry in different parts of the world (laughs).
The Gambian music scene is now characterized by too much unnecessary beef. What's your take on that?
Beef is just ART! Is the beauty of hip hop, itâ€™s good for the industry. It can force the artists to work harder both lyrically and technically. Donâ€™t get me wrong; itâ€™s necessary sometimes but not all the time.
It's widely believed that Gambian promoters are only good at exploiting artists. Are you one of them?
HELL NO! Iâ€™m not just a promoter, Iâ€™m also part of those who contributed in shaping the music industry and taking it to the level it is today. I hate it when so called promoters, businessmen, whatever tries to make fortune off Gambian artists.
The thing I hate most is, when they prioritise foreign artists at the expense of own local talent. At least we should try to treat our artists like DIAMONDS. Charity begins at home, if we love and adore our own then its GAMBIAâ€™S PROFIT.
You are obviously a veteran rapper and now a well-respected producer, what direction do you think Gambian hip hop should take?
They rappers should be original and have their own identity!
How does it feel to become a husband and a dad?
Itâ€™s a blessing, to be honest. Iâ€™m enjoying the experience. I have a family that is very supportive and I thank God for that.
Any last words?
I have no last words (laughs). Okay, I want to thank you for the interview. Itâ€™s great that you guys are also contributing to the development of the music industry. Much respect!
My new single for 2013 is coming soon watch out for that RAP KHALIFA - different look, different styleâ€¦.
The block entertainment has also joined forces with a British record label called NEW MONEY RECORDINGS to help Gambian artists. More to comeâ€¦