7 Questions – Cozmo El
- What part of the nation do you hail from Moor?
I give praise to the Most High. I give honor our industrious and illustrious forefathers, the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the Noble Drew Ali
I would like to start by saying that I am honored to be featured in your series. I also appreciate the opportunity to reach your readers and others in your sphere of influence.
I was born in Los Angeles, California and in my childhood years raised mostly in Long Beach. Later, when I was in my late teens, I moved to Los Angeles. However, my family is from a little village that is not even on the map called Yellow Springs, Ohio. So I am of the first generation to be born in the big city so to speak.
- How did you become aware of the Moorish Science Temple of America?
Around my home, my mother watched a lot of documentaries and unorthodox programming that, as a young man, I probably would have not otherwise been introduced to. We also talked and debated about many of those programs so I guess I can say that I had an advantage when the time came to be introduced to new types of knowledge. I can honestly say that hip-hop also played a large role. It was Public Enemy that introduced me to El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X). I then read his autobiography and connected with his story like most of the people who I talk to about reading his book do.
The book convinced me that his was the road for me to take. I begin to start trying to seek out knowledge about consciousness in all its forms. In studying Islamic history as instructed by the elders, a rich history regarding our people as Moors was throughout it. It was a little book entitled “The Fallen Moorish Empire.” By D. S. Karim-Bey that began to unfold the depth of Moorish history. It also introduced me to the ancient Moabite presence in America.
I also came in contact with brothers who were teaching Moorish Science in Los Angeles at the age of 14. They were a few positive strong brothers, nothing like the vast numbers of brothers and sisters that are awakened now. Back then, you had “In Preparation” (IP). After completing IP, I did what was required and performed the necessary duties, received my Fez, Nationality Card and have been demonstrating ever since.
These Moors were active and not passive who helped instill in me a sense of activism alongside scholarly achievement and community service.
- What inspired the concept for the compilation project, “Treaty of Beats and Friendship”?
Actually, I was contacted by Grand Shiek Kudjo Adwo El one morning via Facebook. It seemed we had a mutual associate who thought that it would be a good idea for us to link because we both did music. He extended the hand and a treaty. So in the fashion of out ancient forefathers we signed a treaty to collaborate on some songs. I always wanted a compilation of music by Moors from different territories and was in the process of putting together a compilation of Moorish artists in Cali and it just made sense to reach out to others and see if they wanted to collab on some songs as well. Beats for rhymes, and we both can do with the music as we wish. The Treaty of Beats and Kinship came from an important historical document to Moors known as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Whether or not a Moor agrees with what this document means, it is still probably the most referenced and publicized.
So beats traded for rhymes and rhymes traded for beats between Moors, thus The Treaty of Beats and Kinship. There is a lesson in the title of the compilation and in the concept of Moors using their talents and crafts as currency with one another. I had hoped to illustrate that in the over all project.
- You have an impressive versatility in crafting beats. How did you get started creating music?
When I was just 8 years old my older brother used to take me to pop locking and break dancing contests. Eventually, I started to break dance and go to parties myself and get into battles with the local crews in Long Beach. We used to meet on the corner with our broken down cardboard boxes and battle on the corner. We got wise and started putting our hats down and folks would throw money in them.
The Long Beach City Council decided they wanted to make it illegal for us to do that so there was a void for a minute. During that time former breakers and pop lockers began to be pulled into other activities like gang banging and crack was really just hitting the street and that was also a direction for broke youth with time on their hand. However, sports and rapping also started to feel the void. Original rap was just starting to make itself to the radio.
At about 11 years old, I chose my first rap name. It was M.C. Tricky, an overture to the song by Run D.M.C. and set about to make a name by battling everyone in town. We used to go from junior high to junior high in the city battling until the whole city knew your name, at least in junior high. There were not a lot of studios like today. You had one in the city that a 12 year old could go to named Mo Z Star. It was mainly for music but Mo was interested in this new hip-hop music.
Some of the M.C.s who used to hang out there were Domino, Warren G, College Boys, etc. Of course nobody was famous, we were still in junior high. Mo allowed me to record but after a while, it became apparent that if I was to continue to record, I would need my own music equipment. Everything was analog back then, so with a couple of pieces like a sampler and a 4-track porta-studio you could convert your basic stereo and you were in the game. Since 17 years old I have always had some form of studio and recording equipment and I have worked with many underground and some “overground” artists in a mixture of music and activism, which is what hip-hop is truly all about.
- Who are some of the people that you’ve worked with in the music business?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with many artists over the years. Aside from recording and doing music, I also co-owned the Lounge Cafe with my beautiful sister, in Lemeirt Park from 2010 -2014. It was called “Jinga Jinga,” and was located in the old 5th St. Dicks Building 33471/2 43rd place, a historical building in Lemiert Park with a wonderful story as it relates to so-called black music in Los Angeles. Music ranging from jazz and blues to hip-hop and spoken word. Thanks to Urban Voodoo and Tausha Auset, spoken word artists, and hosts of Jinga Jinga’s Spoken Soul Sunday’s.
Music with me has always been a mixture of art and activism which has brought me in contact with many artists such as: The Amin El Collective and Grammy awarded producer X Man, Ferdando Pullum, Ben Caldwell, Aceyalone and Self Jupiter from Free Style Fellowship, Hassan Salaam, Akil The M.C. of Jurassic 5, Yasiin Bey and a host of underground hip hop and spoken word artists. Shout out to my partner Grio Broham and to Osbie Chill and Asad Ill! Look for these budding artists in the near future.
- Brother you appear to be a budding renaissance man…making fezzes, designing garb and slippers with that Moorish aesthetic, publishing books, etc. What is your end game as far as the various artistic mediums that you are exploring?
I’ve always been one to take the old saying “an idle mind is a devil’s workshop,” to heart so I do my best to stay busy. This took on new meaning for me a few years ago when I was hospitalized and was extremely close to changing forms. I was hospitalized for 30 days and finally operated on. I could not eat or even drink for that whole time and was nourished intravenously with the basic minerals and fluids of life. It was basically a fast, that left my system so pure that I pledged to hold on to as much of that as long as I live.
I made it a point to retrace my steps and rehabilitate myself, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Getting back on my holistic living and along with the help of my loving Califa family, I was able to pull through and be the Moor that brothers and sisters know today. Praise be to the Most High!
From the time of my early teens, I started demonstrating and never looked backed but because of my illness, I was forced to pull back from the rigorous activities of the outward struggle and found too much idle time on my hands. So I picked up old literary projects that had been laying around and decided to update and polish them out. Sister Tauheedullah of Califa Media alerted me to some sites for self-publishing that had not existed back when I started many of the projects, and the rest is history.
The fezzes, flags and clothing come from an insatiable need to do for and be self like we are taught in our lessons. I think the words of Marcus Garvey say it best, “God and nature made us what we are and out of our own creative genius we make ourselves into what we want to be.” I follow always that great law. “Let the sky and God be our limit and eternity our measurement.” On a practical level, I hope to help to establish and consolidate our nation’s various media outlets…be it print, audio, visual, internet or otherwise. Also, it seems that skills like sewing and others, are a great way for an emerging nation to begin to produce industrial products to finance our nation, communities, and families. Things like garment production, handmade crafts, and other ornaments sustain whole nations and/or contribute greatly to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Likewise, I think that it is necessary to not only suggest to the people what we should be doing, but to actually act first to demonstrate and illustrate what needs to be done.
We are full of talent and what we lack we have the ability to learn like anyone else. This no one can take away from us. People always want to know how long I have been sewing and are surprised to find out that it has only been months. However, we are taught as Moorish Scientists that “thought is the cause of it all”. I have found this to be true. In the end I am reminded of a saying in Holy Koran of the MST of A that states, “so kindly hath Allah united thy duty to thy nature that obedience to his precepts is happiness to thy heart”. I have always related this to economics. One must be able to make a living and sustain one’s self doing what one is called to do in order to have a balanced and happy life. My personal end game is just that.
- Do you have any links that you would like to share so that ones can access your work?
I am extremely exited about the new line of books that have been recently released entitled “Moor, What They Didn’t Teach You In Black History Class,” Parts I and II. The people have been quite supportive of Part I, so I decided to expand this series into a curriculum, complete with workbooks and video. Part II of the Book series was just released November 28th, 2015. I would like to thank all those who have supported this effort and share the link with your readers:
100% Moorish Apparel is a new company that promotes Moorish culture and heritage through fashion. Only high quality product provided!
In closing I would like to thank you brother for the opportunity to reach your readers and for the wonderful platform that you provide for the Moorish public. Gratitude!