In a regular series of features, we’re inviting Minnesota artists to introduce themselves to our audience. Today: Huhroon, a Minneapolis-based rapper whose experience as a poet and singer shine in his emotive music. Check out his latest release ICEPACK.
My name is Haroon Rasheed. I got started as an artist by doing slam poetry and spoken word when I was 16, and I joined my school’s spoken word club. I always wanted to make music, but I didn’t have the tools or the resources. I knew that if I was to start making music, I didn’t want to make mid music. I wanted to be around people who could help elevate me and make what I had in my head sound better.
There was no music being played in my household at all when I was growing up. We practically lived at the mosque until I was age 12 or 13. Regular American kids have their weekends to themselves, but in our household, it was like Saturday 8 a.m. dropped off at the mosque, pick-up at 9 p.m.
Since I couldn’t listen to music or have anything playing in the house, I’d go to the library and get a bunch of different albums that I wanted to listen to. 808s & Heartbreak was probably the first hip-hop album I ever listened to. I was just blown away. Like, how was he making his voice sound like that, you know? And then there was T-Pain and Bon Iver and all types of different artists who would make their voice sound as not human as possible. I always thought that was a cool thing. I’m also super inspired by music from different countries.
I went to the Lightbox Showcase event in February of 2018, and Kwey was DJing. At that show I did some spoken word poetry and a capella songs. Afterwards he was like, “Your stuff was really dope, man. Have you ever made any music?” I hadn’t yet, so Kwey invited me to the studio in Ferguson Hall at the University of Minnesota where he made music with Ben Yoshihara. Zak Khan is somebody else who I met in those studio sessions. My first song [“Happy Birthday Haroon”] came from that. I made it with Ben, and Kwey made the beat. We dropped that on my 19th birthday.
I felt like I always could sing. When I was a kid, I used to be super heavy in the mosques, and my mom kept me at the masjid all Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. During that time there was this reciter whose voice I imitated a lot. He would basically almost sing the Quran in a very beautiful, super melodic way.
At the mosque, I would lead prayers and do different competitions to showcase my work. That was the first time I ever realized that I had a good voice. When I started making music, I was only rapping, because of my influences at the time. It was dope, and I love that music and believe there’s still a place for it, but as I’ve been making more stuff and experimenting with different vocal effects, I’ve been mixing it in with the rap music. I hate categorizing it, but I would describe my sound as alternative hip-hop. I just try to be as creative as possible and do whatever it is I feel that day.
I’m almost vulnerable to a fault when it comes to making music. A lot of the different themes that I try to address come from lived experiences. Making music started off as an escape from reality. I’ve used it as a happy escape, a trauma response, all types of different things.
I made a song in 2019 called “Runaway,” and I think it’s probably my best piece of songwriting. I have one lyric where I’m talking to my therapist: “She said I need to let it go/ She said my thoughts is detrimental/ I told her that I f—ing know/ Went toe to toe with hubris, tackle tension with the blow/ Ran away from flaky weather, now nose-deep up in the snow.” At the time I was abusing different substances and just trying to escape my reality. I was doing anything I could to distance myself from anybody who seemed to care about me, because I felt like I was gonna hurt them… The only place I truly felt safe was when I was writing music. I felt like I could say whatever and there would be no judgment. That song is super heavy, and it’s still not done, but it will definitely make it onto my first full-length project.
To be honest, one of the biggest challenges in making music is just myself. Sometimes I struggle with social spaces and just being around other people. The only times I really feel carefree is when I’m around my close friends; it just so happens to be that my close friends are the people who I make all my music with. The challenge is working with other people… That’s something I’ve been trying to do more often. There are a lot of talented artists here: 6RIPS, Magz, Zodiak, and Maki are all artists I’d love to work with.
My first project is still in its infancy. I don’t want to put an expected date on it. Hopefully we can get it done by this year, and it’d end up being an early 2022 project. I’m still brainstorming with my producers and friends… But I think right now we’re in a good place.