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Muslim Hip Hop Group Stirs Northern Nigeria Youth


Music is a global language that can reach across all races and religion. That's evident in northern Nigeria - where hip-hop, a music form originally created by a non- Muslim African -Americans - is appealing to Muslim Hausa-speaking youth..

From the northern town of Kano, reporter Isiyaku Ahmed has this profile of a popular hip-pop group, the K-Boys.

The hip hop gropu, The Kano-Boys, or K-Boys, is one of Kano state’s best known musical groups. They're loved by the Hausa speaking fans, including Hausa speaking Christians, in the predominantly Muslim state.

Here is what some people on the street are saying about the K-Boys:

"The K-Boys are a new musical group. I like them and their kind of music especially that song 'Nasiha' which is a song on HIV/AIDS awareness.

"The song accepts the teachings of Christianity and Islam. I actually have seen them performed severally at different occasions in Kano.

"I like this song 'Nasiha' even though I (only) understand Hausa language a little. The song is good.]"

Hassan Mohammed is a young secondary school leaver [graduate], and head of the band. At age 22, he’s the oldest of the group.

"The K-boys are Abba Isiyaku Umar, Ibrahim Ahmed Musa, Hassan Mohammed Sheriff, and Idris Mohammed. We sing Hausa hip-pop. Our inspiration is from the day to day suffering of the people in Kano and the need to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other social vices in Kano."

Every musical track has its own message. Some of K-Boys hit tracks are 'Nasiha' which means 'Caution' in English, and 'Kariya' meaning 'Protection'. Twenty-one-year old Ibrahim is the group's lead vocalist.

Ibrahim Ahmed says the message in their kind of music is not just on HIV/AIDS. They also sing on other meaningful problems of young people.

He says the group practices strict Islamic law, or Sharia -- which does not prevent them from expressing themselves -- and educating fellow Muslims through music.

"I am the rapper for the group. I write most of the songs, Also, I do my best to see that each song has a message. We sing (with) different messages not only on HIV/AIDS but also other bad habits of young people like stealing and drinking of alcohol. And why we are singing Hausa hip-pop is just to move with modern times in music. Talking about sharia, every Muslim practice sharia. We the K-Boys strictly practice sharia. You see, sharia is not against anybody -- Christains or Muslims. It allows you to express yourself in a good manner but does not allow or give room for immoral behaviour, he said.

Here is a sample of one of the K-boys Hausa hip-pop songs with Messages on HIV/AIDS virus in Kano. It’s called Nashia, or “Caution.”

The song stresses faithfulness to one partner, and abstinence from sex before marriage as ways of preventing the spread the virus.

"This song simply says AIDS, we need to know is a dangerous virus. It is important for us to inform you, it is also important for us to explain to you not to stigmatize people with AIDS. We are calling on young people, that is boys and even small children. Stay away from danger, the kind of danger HIV/AIDS has. The song continues like that with a little more flavor containing the HIV/AIDS message," he says.

Hassan Mohammed says the rhythms of their kind of hip-pop is similar to that of American hip-pop but differs in other ways with a change in style.

"Hip-pop music is one all over the world; the lyrics are what are normally different. In American hip-pop, it is all about gangster, but we do our own with simple words in Hausa for a change in the society. As Muslims, we also take into consideration the teachings of the Holy Quran which is about oneness and the ways of life," he said.

The group met while they were in school. Being children from poor peasants, they wanted to have a say in things that happen around them, so they decided to sing hip-pop music in the Hausa language which they believe is appealing to young people in their native town of Kano. The four young boys are indigenes of the northern Nigerian town Kano but from different local governments.

Today, the K-boys only perform in public – but they’re hoping to sign a record deal with a popular label in Nigeria. They say once they become better known throughout the north, they will turn their attention to the rest of the country.

The group is considering to start recording in English so their message will reach a wider audience. As secondary schools graduates the K-boys are hoping to go to the university in the future.