A musician, mentor and entrepreneur, Mustafa is deeply connected to the pulse of the culture. He rounds out his skill set as the business manager of several popular Instagram pages including Real Toronto Newz, Memes for Your Headtop and keep6ixsolid. He is also one of the founding members of 6ixbuzztv.
When he was just six years old, Mustafa immigrated to Canada with his family to escape civil war. Immigrating from Sudan, he lived through multiple wars, and says the trauma he experienced as a child would inform his young adult years.
Drinking a glass of water, from the suburbs outside of Toronto, Mustafa says, “I remember having to tape Xs on our windows,” as he talks about being in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. The tape was to prevent the window from shattering into pieces if there was a nearby explosion.
After moving to Canada, Mustafa and his family began their life as new Canadians. As a fan of rap music, he laughs and remembers his favourite way to learn English: writing out the lyrics to his favourite rap songs when he was seven years old.
“Hip-hop spoke to me differently, because those people looked like me,” he says, adding it’s always been one of the most impactful influences in his life.
His love for hip-hop inspired him to get involved in rap battles with older kids in his neighbourhood. He remembers the energy being infectious and overpowering, starting his love affair with hip-hop, and giving him a sense of community.
Mustafa’s new friends would unfortunately get him involved in crime. He says, “because I was hanging with the ‘cool crowd,’ and the cool crowd at the time were the kids that were getting into trouble,” it was inevitable that he would get caught up in the lifestyle.
When asked if rap and violence are directly related, Mustafa says, “I mean, I’m not going to say [it’s not]—but it’s a matter of perspective.” Hip hop is telling the stories of struggle within certain communities. “It tells what’s going on,” he adds as he reflects on the question.
At 14 years old he would become homeless, fending for himself, and looking for support from a youth homeless shelter to get a roof over his head. One year later, he was signing a record deal with an independent record label. While it felt like he had achieved one of his ultimate goals, he knew he still had work to do.
Today, Mustafa is still very much involved in the hip-hop community. As the founder and CEO of North Block Entertainment (NOBL), he uses his experiences to advance artists from different backgrounds and works very closely with his partner 4x Platinum producer Eestbound and NBA Champion Serge Ibaka.
I love who I am, and I'm glad that I went through what I did...
Mentorship, mindfulness and meditation are three key tools that were able to pull him out of a life of violence and trauma, setting him on the right track. Today he uses these three pillars to inform everything he does.
Mustafa is proud of his work with MyStand, an organization he created to give marginalized youth—especially those who come from immigrant backgrounds—the resources to create real change in their lives. Heavyweights like Murda Beatz and his manager Cory Litwin have seen the value in this program and supported it from day one, being involved in the launch and first provincial grant win.
The organization customizes programs with a holistic approach. Thinking back on his accomplishments and the lives he’s been able to touch, Mustafa talks about Christopher Ambanza who started in MyStand as a mentee, and is currently working as a mentor.
Ambanza grew up in Alexandra Park Toronto, and was wrongfully convicted of a crime. After spending more than two years in prison, he decided to take matters into his own hands. With no access to a law library, he would call his parents and get them to source information. Working closely with a public defense attorney, he was eventually able to prove his innocence.
It’s stories like this that make Mustafa proud, and it’s why he provides the resources for people like Ambanza to tell their stories, inspiring youth in similar situations to think differently.
“I love who I am, and I’m glad that I went through what I did,” Mustafa says, adding that trauma can create resilience. While he wears his experiences as a badge of honour, he hopes that the generation coming up behind him has more opportunities.
Working with his close friends, Danell Adams and music video director, Director X on Operation Prefrontal Cortex, he is committed to bringing mindfulness and meditation to marginalized youth. The program introduces youth to the practices which can alleviate the causes of gun and mass violence.
According to the Operation Prefrontal Cortex website, “studies have shown a connection between violent and aggressive behaviour and the amygdala—the part of the brain that regulates emotions like fear and anxiety—as well as u2028the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, planning, reasoning and decision making.”
A victim of gun violence himself, Director X was shot at an event in Toronto in 2015. This traumatic experience led him to champion radical social change, bringing his friend, Mustafa onboard to help share the message through his channels.
It’s not easy leaving a war-torn country to start a new life in a place where you don’t know the language or the culture, but as Mustafa reflects on his life he says, “I feel rich,” referring to the amount of lives he’s impacted.
A father, mentor, music executive and producer, Mustafa is committed to bringing young people together to shape the music, culture and mindset of tomorrow, and urges others in his position to do the same.