Mona Haydar is a Muslim woman turning the rap game on its head.
“A lot of the work I do, I hope, is about affirming people in the ways that they are, instead of the ways the world tells them that they should be,” she explained.
Haydar grew up in Flint, Michigan, where she said she often struggled with her identity.
“I was definitely othered,” she explained. “I didn’t fit in with the white kids, I didn’t fit in with the Black kids, but I sort of feel like people of color band together in some ways and so it was the Black community that sort of took me in, especially in the poetry scene…”
In 2017, Haydar released her debut song, “Hijab (Wrap my Hijab)” and the music video featured her eight months pregnant. Billboard ranked it one of the “Top 25 Feminist Anthems of All Time.”
Her latest song, “Barbarian,” celebrates diversity while addressing topics like racism, faith, and beauty. She hopes her music inspires other girls to be confident and embrace their natural beauty. She also has a master’s degree in Christian Ethics and works as a chaplain in her community.
“Seeing all these young people really struggling with loneliness and feelings of isolation and lack of community, lack of connection — I just wanted to say to everybody like, you are loved,” she stated.