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Muslim rapper talks of inner conflict
A teenager wrestling the demands of his strict Muslim upbringing and life as an up-and-coming rapper has spoken of his dilemma.
Jamal Ali was shadowed by an MTV film crew for three months to document his day-to-day experiences.
The 16-year-old is a rapper and DJ with Tiger Troops, a Brighton collective who have performed at various gigs around the city and further afield.
It was after one of those gigs that he was approached by a television producer and last Tuesday a glimpse into his life appeared on air as part of MTV's Bedroom Diaries series.
Originally from Somalia, Jamal moved to Brighton with his parents six years ago.
With strict Muslim parents but a huge group of friends in the city's vibrant hip hop scene, Jamal is charting his own course through life by carefully balancing the two influences.
He respects the Muslim faith and prays five times a day but cannot obey the religion's holy book, the Koran, when it forbids Muslims from performing music with instruments.
For Jamal, giving up music is not an option as it is a huge part of his life.
He said: "I'm a Muslim teenager trying to fit in with the culture in the UK.
"There are a lot of things that happen here that are against my religion such as drinking alcohol, going out with girls and, of course doing music.
"But I can't give it up now because I've put so much work into it and it means so much to me.
"I rap about my religion and what it means to me and I don't think it is that bad."
But girls are one aspect of Jamal's modern life that he has had to give up.
He split from a girlfriend recently because his relationship was causing arguments at home with his mum and dad.
He said: "I don't blame my parents. They were born in a Muslim country and they have lived most of their lives in a Muslim country, it's a different story, it's a different life for me here now."
One Muslim doctrine that Jamal does see sense in following is no sex before marriage and he is saving his virginity for his future wife.
He said: "I don't see the point in having sex with someone that you are going to break up with.
"You might as well marry someone you love and have that moment with them."
Jamal said his parents had heard him rap but never seen him perform on stage.
His mum watched the MTV show - which aired on Tuesday last week -but his dad hasn't seen it.
Trying to marry his two lives into one is a struggle for the teenager but he remains focused and knows what he wants out of life.
He said: "I just want people to understand that it's hard me leading two lives and trying to do my best for myself, my family and my religion."
Source: The Argus