Published Mar 10, 2020Toronto's Mustafa Ahmed (a.k.a Mustafa the Poet) first captured his city's consciousness from a young age as a poet and spoken word artist. Having since worked with the likes of Drake, Daniel Caesar and Frank Dukes, Ahmed has now released his first-ever solo song.
The Dukes and James Blake-produced "Stay Alive" arrives today alongside a video by King Bee Productions, which turns a lens on Ahmed's Regent Park community. Shots of his close-knit friend group (including Lil Berete), aerials of the neighbourhood and familiar Toronto street signs are set against footage of security cameras, police vehicles and ongoing urban development.
In the face of that juxtaposition, Ahmed's lyrics stress harmony and resiliency, as he gently sings, "And if they take it all away / Our freedom in our hearts, and that glow in your face / I'll remind you who you were before it changed."
"It takes a village, it takes a few lifetimes," Ahmed wrote in sharing the video. "Rest In Peace to the friends I've lost, long life to the ones still living, nothing in vain, Regent Park forever"
Last year, Ahmed contributed to Frank Dukes' Parkscapes, a sample pack made in collaboration with Toronto's Regent Park School of Music. A second volume of the series was announced this year.
In conversation with Complex last year, Ahmed revealed he was at work on a short film with Drake titled Remember Me Toronto, which will feature a score from OVO sonic architect Noah "40" Shebib.
"I had a conversation with Drake about how much violence there is in the city, and I realized when we pass away, people don't remember us in the way that we should be remembered," Ahmed told the site. "And I realized that while we're still here, it's important to account for that memory. So I'm basically interviewing different rappers from across Toronto, and they gave me these really beautiful responses. It just humanizes everyone. When you get lost to gun violence, there's a stigma. There's a narrative in the media that insinuates that the victims deserved to die."