Poetic Pilgrimage: Britain’s first Muslim hip-hop duo on 'uniting people' with rap

Since starring in a documentary earlier this year, the pair dubbed the 'hip-hop hijabis' have been performing non-stop

Katie Grant
Saturday 12 December 2015 00:47
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Poetic Pilgrimage's Muneera and Sukina
Poetic Pilgrimage's Muneera and Sukina

Britain’s first Muslim hip-hop duo, Poetic Pilgrimage, have been making music for years but the outfit only recently achieved widespread recognition. Born in Bristol to Jamaican parents, Muneera Williams and Sukina Owen-Douglas converted to Islam in 2005. Since starring in a documentary earlier this year, the London-based pair, dubbed the “hip-hop hijabis”, have been performing non-stop.

“We’ve been doing a lot of performances around the country and abroad too,” said Williams, 35. “We went to Belgium, then America, and did a residency in Chicago. We went to Sweden not too long ago, too.”

In addition to a long line of gigs, the artists have been working on their first album. Williams said she had “no doubt” that the theme of Islamophobia, reports of which spiked following last month’s terror attacks in Paris, would be explored on the record, but “not in an obvious way” so as not to alienate listeners.

“Maybe this is the Caribbean woman in me – I want to push back against the narrative of being a victim. I don’t want to be in a state of being a victim – I want to be a victor,” she said.

Poetic Pilgrimage, who draw on reggae influences, want to “unite people” with their music. “We are Muslim, Caribbean, British, Londoners, Bristolians – we’re a tapestry of things. It will come out in our music,” Williams added. “The hip-hop community has always been supportive of us, especially in Europe and America. There is misogyny in hip hop but no more than in society in general.

“They like anyone who is good – they’re inclusive, not exclusive. We don’t do it for entertainment, but as a form of enrichment for ourselves and our communities.”

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