BYU Muslim rapper aims to spread message of love

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Tala Sisalem created this video for The Daily Universe to show his raps promote a message of love and acceptance to bring Arabs, Palestinians and the the world together. (Video courtesy of Talal Sisalem)

 

Muslim rapper and BYU student Talal Sisalem said he raps to spread the message of love and acceptance to bring Arabs, Palestinians and the world together.

Talal Sisalem raps at The Wall at BYU. Sisalem said he sees himself selling out shows everywhere, as well as helping his people finically and socially. (The Wall, courtesy of Talal Sisalem)

“My passion is for my people and my cause,” Sisalem said. “My drive is to teach people about myself and my people, the Palestinians. I don’t think I can stop making music.”

Sisalem was born in Jordan and lived in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. He never lived in Palestine, but is a second generation refugee. He said his travels led him to find purpose in music.

Sisalem said he tries to bring different elements into his raps such as emotions, experiences and his passion for his people with the motivation to promote positive social change.

Rafael Monteiro, Sisalesm’s roommate, said he believes Sisalem portrays his life and Sisaleam’s message isn’t only for him, but for anyone who listens.

“I believe what he’s portraying is about himself, his struggles and his hunger to make it — not just for himself but for those he believes and loves. He has a lot of different vibes and qualities in his music, and that’s why I’m a fan,” Monteiro said.

Sisalem began writing poetry when he was a child, but it wasn’t until he was 13 when he started listening to rap that his poetry transitioned to rap. Some of his influences are Eminem, Fort Minor and Tupac, according to his Facebook page.

Talal Sisalem, right, as a sophomore in high school at King’s Academy in Jordan, and his friends in Jordan perform a rap. (Courtesy of Talal Sisalem)

Sisalem said when others meet him, they find it interesting that he’s Muslim and going to school at BYU, where it is predominantly LDS.

“People are very supportive and this is a friendly place,” Sisalem said.

Monteiro is LDS and said he and Sisalem share different beliefs but have kept a great relationship.

“We both believe there’s a God, so we talk about that mostly. It’s the love we have for our Gods,” Monteiro said.

Another artist and a producer, Marcus Joseph, said he remembers seeing Sisalem at BYU’s Got Talent in fall of 2013 and was impressed by his talent and the power in Sisalem’s voice.

Sisalem and Joseph have since developed a friendship through their music.

“We both come together with ideas,” Joseph said. “If he is stuck, we talk and figure something out. If I’m stuck, I go to him and we share ideas … He is very driven and knows what he wants.”

Sisalem said he hopes to make a comfortable living off of his music with the aim to have a large platform where he can reach people with his music and spread positive messages everywhere.

“I see myself selling out shows worldwide: the Middle East, Europe, Asia, everywhere,” Sisalem said. “I see myself giving my family everything they deserve and helping out my country/people financially and socially.”

Monteiro said he hopes Sisalem succeeds in his dreams.

Talal Sisalem performs at The Wall on the BYU campus. Talal said he raps to spread the message of love and acceptance. (Photo courtesy of Talal Sisalem)

“I know why he’s doing it for and for whom,” Monteiro said. “He’s not only a great artist, but a brother.”

Sisalem  is currently working with BYU track member Tomi Adegoke and BYU football player Devon Blackmon, among others, on a project called 1Tribe. The project is a collection of artists, videographers and others who share a vision of sharing their art to promote positivity.

“The name 1Tribe symbolizes the unity that we wish to promote amongst ourselves first, and with anyone whom we interact with or touch with our work,” Sisalem said in a text.

Sisalem recently released a music video and is now currently working on an album.

To hear some music by Talal, his Soundcloud is SoundCloud.com/imtalal. He will be releasing an EP and a mixtape this summer.