Rapper Tone Trump Puts Projects On Hold To Focus On Ramadan
When you look up the word hustler, a picture of Philadelphia’s Tone Trump should be next to it. The self-proclaimed “Greatest Hustler Alive,” seems to be into everything.
Wearing his passion on his sleeve, Trump continuously builds on those passions, which include, fashion, music and his love for Islam. The “Muslim Don” will be taking a brief hiatus from his hustle to focus on Ramadan, which begins April 12 and lasts 30 days. During that time, he will begin his spiritual, physical, emotional and mental cleansing.
Then, a recharged Trump intends to jump right back into the mix, to create. A joint album with Kevin Gates titled “Tattoo Tears” is in the making, his “Muslim Don” merch is flying off the shelves nationwide and his plans to spread the word of Islam is always top priority. Trips to Africa and abroad further enhanced the importance of fasting for Trump. Ready to provide music for his fans, the focus now is solely on Ramadan.
Trump tells Zenger News why he’s looking forward to spiritual growth during Ramadan, talks about new projects on the way, and why he’s glad the industry is waking up.
Percy Crawford interviewed Tone Trump for Zenger News.
Zenger: We seem to always catch up around Ramadan, and I feel that is important because you always give amazing perspective on exactly what Ramadan is. Would you say it is a mental and physical cleansing?
Trump: That’s a beautiful way to state it. It’s a spiritual, physical and emotional and everything else about it. Scientifically… people can Google the benefits of fasting. They try to make it seem like a punishment. It’s blessings. Yes, it is a trial. It’s not easy to fast because we’re spoiled. Especially in America.
My 4-year-old goes to the refrigerator 15 times a day. I’ve been to Third World countries where they don’t eat 15 times a month. My baby is 4 years old and every time I look up, he’s opening the refrigerator to get a snack or some fruit. And we take for granted the blessing of just having a refrigerator. Having fresh food is a blessing. Why would I complain about fasting for 12 hours, when there are people who haven’t eaten in 12 days.
I feel like that would be very ignorant of me. I feel like it gives me a chance to be humble and detox my mind, my body and my soul to the best of my ability. This is the best time of the year for me. It’s always right on time. It feels like it comes so fast and ends so fast at the same time. I’m excited to get it started, Inshallah. But you described it beautifully, and I thank you for that.
Zenger: Is Ramadan different for kids?
Trump: You’re responsible for your children. You got some people with children who are 5 and already fasting. For me, I’m letting the younger ones kind of ween into it, Inshallah. My big boy is ready to go. He’s excited about fasting another year with his dad.
Zenger: Is Ramadan a gradual progression each year or is the goal the same every year?
Trump: I feel like it’s different each year because I feel like I grow each year. I’m a different person every Ramadan. I’m not the same person I was last year. Last year was the first Ramadan dealing with a pandemic, so it was very different.
For years and years, we spend so much time in the Masjid. Last year we weren’t allowed to go to the Masjid, so it made us appreciate it Masjid more. So, I think this Ramadan, we’re going to walk into the doors of the Masjid for iftar and the last 10 days of praying. I think we’re going to be a lot more grateful, all of us. Not just me. I know I am, and I know that Muslims and the Ummah all over the world is going to feel the same way. You never miss nothing until it’s taken away from you. That’s how we felt last year with the pandemic and everything the world was going through.
Zenger: Do you feel like Muslims are starting to be understood more, and that there is more dialogue about the Muslim religion recently?
Trump: There is still a lot of learning that needs to be done, but a lot of dialogue is going on. I think that was one of the good things about Donald Trump being the president. He was saying so many ignorant things, it forced people to go research some of those things. And one thing people realize is, people think about their Muslim neighbors.
You go to most beautiful suburban areas, and you go to areas where there is nonviolence, and you go to areas where there’s very successful people, there’s always functioning, praying and striving Muslims in those neighborhoods. People realize those neighbors are some of the best people. I don’t know a neighborhood where Muslims are breaking into homes and doing things like that. We have areas where there is just poverty and crime and stuff like that, but for the most part, Muslims are the most peaceful people in the world.
They are also some of the most loving people in the world. I truly believe we are the best of humanity. So, I feel like with that being said, when you remove the prejudice of everything and learn for yourself, you’ll realize it’s our faith. We love Allah and Allah just means God in Arabic. So, when people say, “I believe in, God. I don’t believe in Allah.” Well, if you believe in God, you believe in Allah. It’s just about dialogue and understanding.
That’s one of the things that I try to do with the merchandise. When people see me put something like ‘Wudu’ on a sweater or hoodie, then somebody have to ask, what’s ‘Wudu?’ And then a person explains that’s the process of us cleaning ourselves off before we pray. Then that person has another question. Or if I have a sweater that says, ‘Fajr,’ hey, what’s ‘Fajr,’ that’s our morning prayer. It creates dialogue.
Zenger: About two years ago, my neighbor asked me to fast for a day with him and his family during Ramadan and I did it. I went into it completely ignorant and without research, so I didn’t know to wake up and eat a meal and things like that, so I literally went like 24 hours without eating, but that taught me a valuable lesson, and it created that dialogue you’re talking about.
Trump: (Laughing). You weren’t fasting, you were on a hunger strike. I have been blessed to visit Africa recently multiple times with an organization named Muslims of the World. My first time visiting Kenya, when I left, I was almost in tears. I was so embarrassed about how spoiled I am. Seeing these people finding so much joy while having so little.
The things that we take so personal, and we think are so important, they don’t have none of those things, and they still were thanking their Lord, still was smiling, and it made me feel like, damn man, I was just begging my Lord to forgive me for every time I have ever complained. I have nothing to complain about because, brother, I am so blessed.
Zenger: Tell us about the “Muslim Don” movement, as it’s taking off in a very global way.
Trump: It’s the biggest movement in the world. It’s the most important movement to me in the hip-hop culture. What other movement is looking fly, looking strong and looking like real men, and encouraging little black and brown boys to pray. Wake up and say prayer is cool.
Even the things that I’m glorying in my music when I talk about the importance of praying in my music. If I’m telling you to get up at 5 a.m. to pray, you clearly can’t be in the club till 3 a.m. We’re creating a lifestyle and a way of life that’s based off Islam. And we take a lot of those virtues and giving a message to the youth.
And to brothers coming off the streets that lived the way we lived that know that Allah’s mercy is greater than any sin ever committed. So, no matter what you did, I don’t care if you sold drugs, God forbid, murdered somebody, whatever you did, Allah will forgive you if you repent. Allah loves those that repent, and that’s what the “Muslim Don” movement is about.
“Don,”’ when you break the acronym down, stands for Din Over Negativity. So, the Din of Islam, the discipline of Islam, is having that and maintaining that over anything negative. It’s tough to raise your child from a prison room visiting floor. I want these brothers out here working and being successful, building businesses and putting other brothers on, Inshallah. The “Muslim Don” family is global, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger every day.
Zenger: How do you respond to people who say your rap career is in direct conflict with your Muslim beliefs?
Trump: Well, whatever I am doing wrong, the only way I’m going to come out of that is by praying. If I’m out here rapping and thuggin,’ I gotta keep praying because that’s the only thing that’s going to get me out of that lifestyle. If I don’t pray, it’s over for me. All of my success comes from Allah. I’m nothing without prayers. The power of prayer. Allah’s mercy saved my life, Percy. So, that’s why I take it so serious.
So, for the people that say I shouldn’t be rapping: I used to shoot people. I used to sell drugs. I used to be involved in a lot of things that could have cost me my life or life in prison, and now I am out here doing things that are very positive. I am striving to do even more things that are positive, rap is one of the things that I am holding on to that the critics may not understand for a praying and a striving Muslim. I get that. But the prophet also says, ignore what does not concern you. Minding your business, so I’m gonna get it together, on my time.
Zenger: You are a huge boxing fan, and last year we lost the most influential Muslim in my life, and he happens to be from Philadelphia, boxing trainer Naazim Richardson. How do you remember Brother Naaz?
Trump: First of all, I always respected him. He would be on such big platforms when I was young coming up, watching him. Even before he was on TV, I would see him in the Philadelphia Daily News with his sons, the twins. His sons were super gifted, man, Rock and Tiger Allen. They were national champions, Golden Glove champions and one of them was an Olympian.
Even his nephew, Karl [Dargan] that’s my bro. Shout out to “Dynamite.” Karl was a Silver Gloves champion. He’s still legit, and he’s trying to get back now. I send nothing but love to Brother Naazim and his family. He was a hero, a Philadelphia giant and a legend, and his name will live on forever. I’m proud to be a brother of his. I formerly met him at a Tevin Farmer fight. I was starstruck, man. He is my people.
The only thing I love more than Philadelphia and boxing is my family and Muslims, and Allah himself. He embodied so many of those things. He’s a Muslim, a black man, he’s from Philly, he was into boxing and he was great at what he did. He is one of my heroes.
Zenger: Tell us about the “Tattoo Tears” project with Kevin Gates, and when can we expect it?
Trump: My twin. Kevin Gates is not only my brother. He’s like a therapist to me, man. He is my little brother. He inspires me and to me, he’s the best artist in this culture. He’s underrated because he’s not a part of the get-along-gang. He’s not no sucka and he don’t wanna play none of those industry sucka games. He don’t even have an Instagram. He dropped an album without having an Instagram. That’s how much he’s about the art, his family and his love for Allah.
I’m dropping “One Foot In One Foot Out,” on June 1. That’s the lead single. I’m going to take off for the month of Ramadan, focus on me, focus on my family, like you said, spiritually and mentally detoxing, and then June first, we gonna run the summer, Inshallah. Tone Trump-Kevin Gates “Tattoo Tears.” I got the “One Foot In One Foot Out” album coming out with a documentary. The whole album is produced by Ali the Greatest. I directed the documentary with Shoot With Haz Films. We got a classic on the way, bro. We’re going to focus on Ramadan and then after Ramadan is over, we’re going to get back to kicking ass and looking good doing it.
Zenger: You pride yourself on being early on things. One thing in particular that you were early on was seeing through [DJ] Vlad and some of his tactics. Now, it seems like everyone is catching on. What about him made you uneasy as far back as seven years ago?
Trump: One thing is, I knew he was a true devil in a human form. He is an evil person. You just look at it like… it’s not normal to make a fortune off of someone else’s culture. Your platform is about interviewing and talking to people, but you never talk about your own culture. He claims to be a Russian Jew, but he doesn’t have any interviews about Russians or Jews, anything good or bad.
But he covers everything about black boys being shot, murdered, raped, kidnapped, record deals lost, drug addiction. He’s giving us 10 videos of that a day, but nothing about his own people. That should be a red flag. I have no respect for him. He’s the lowest. He is a terrible human being. I’m trying to stay positive with Ramadan coming up, but I have nothing good to say about Vlad. When I don’t have nothing good to say, maybe I shouldn’t say nothing at all, but he is a super sucka and I’m glad that the industry is waking up and realizing that.
Zenger: Trump, always a pleasure, have a prosperous Ramadan, my brother. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Trump: I want to end off by saying, shout out to all my comrades locked up. I want to ask Allah to bless all the Muslims locked up, men and women, during Ramadan. Free the AHKs and make sure you visit the Muslim Don Family website, which has exclusive freestyles, all the latest and hottest merch. I have the best halal drip in the game, and thanks Percy for the interview. I got nothing but love and respect for you, bro.
(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff)