Toronto based Muslim poet Mustafa debuted his first single ‘Stay Alive’ on 10 March this year, and although releasing it with very little hype or fanfare, it’s rapidly emerged as one of the year’s defining singles, and a great introduction to him as a new voice in music.
The track was produced by Frank Dukes and James Blake, and is a fine example of inner city folk music. Mustafa first got into music after having lost several friends to gun violence. His song ‘Stay Alive’ is dedicated to those friends, as well to his Toronto neighbourhood of Regent Park. Mustafa’s voice is beautiful; mellifluous; he sings sweetly accompanied by an acoustic guitar in what feels like an old-time protest song.
The music video for ‘Stay Alive’ presents the powerful message along with super emotional footage of the Regent’s Park area and its people. The area was one of the first housing projects in North America, originally built in 1948, and the City began its revitalising in 2005, with the focus on rebuilding the neighbourhood for its 12,500 residents, in a project that should see completion within the next 5 years. Mustafa’s experience of seeing the area transformed from the blocks, community, and culture that he’s known all his life into something unrecognisable, is just a taste of what is going on all over the world. What the City might see as distasteful, and in need of updating, is a place of comfort for those who live there – it’s their own. Change is hard, and sometimes it’s inevitable. Hopefully the new builds will likewise feel their own and the residents will feel at peace again.
Watch the video for ‘Stay Alive’ below. You can find Mustafa online on Twitter.